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Celebrating nursing and midwifery in a pandemic shadow

Celebrating nursing and midwifery in a pandemic shadow

Nurses and midwives know life can change in an instant.

The professional lives of 111,235 registered and enrolled nurses, 7960 dual registered nurse/midwives and 1644 midwives across Victoria changed significantly last year.

And while Victoria is free of community COVID-19 transmission, our brutal experience of this pandemic tells us the situation can rapidly change.

Last year ANMF and our New Zealand colleagues marked the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife with an online vigil to those nurses overseas who had lost their lives after caring for patients with COVID-19.

This year foremost in our thoughts are with Indian nurses and midwives who are under unthinkable stress in the midst of an explosion of COVID-19 infections. We are investigating how to best ANMF can support our Indian colleagues and the community in their care.

On 4 May, India reported 357,229 new daily cases. Since the end of April more than 3000 deaths are being reported every day.

Media reports describe a health system under unimaginable strain with people unable to access hospital care. Even if they can, there is not enough life-saving oxygen.

This unfolding crisis means our own usually celebratory approach to International Midwives Day (5 May) and International Nurses Day (12 May) continues to be more sombre.

Members are encouraged to visit Unmasked: celebrating nursing and midwifery, Victoria and beyond which has been extended at the Her Place Women’s Museum Australia in East Melbourne.

The exhibition, funded by the Andrews Government, was created to mark the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020. The exhibition was postponed until early this year as a result of the Victorian COVID-19 outbreak.

Members will be able to visit the exhibition on Saturdays during May (see dates below). Special June opening dates on Saturday 26 June and Monday 28 June may provide an additional opportunity to see the exhibition for regional Job Reps and HSRs who are attending the Annual Delegates Conference this year. The exhibition will be preserved in a digital format for nurses and midwives unable to visit the Melbourne venue.

Special event

Through the looking glass
Dr Madonna Grehan
Saturday 8 May 2021, 2pm

Her Place Women’s Museum Australia
210 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne

Through the looking glass is a lecture about using material culture to illustrate a realistic, nuanced, and diverse history while avoiding the nostalgia usually applied to nursing and midwifery’s past.

Dr Madonna Grehan is an independent historian. She worked as a general nurse and midwife before moving into women’s health research. She completed a PhD in nursing and midwifery history at the University of Melbourne. Madonna is an interviewer for the National Library of Australia’s Oral History and Folklore Collection and immediate Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine.


Her Place Women’s Museum Australia
210 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne
10am-4pm, extended days
Bookings (not essential)


Saturday 8 May*
(2pm, Through the looking glass
exhibition lecture by Dr Madonna Grehan)
Saturday 15 May*
Saturday 22 May
Saturday 29 May


Saturday 26 June
Monday 28 June

*open as part of the Australian Heritage Festival