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Head on wins! ANMF (Vic Branch) members’ pandemic book highly commended at design awards

Head on wins! ANMF (Vic Branch) members’ pandemic book highly commended at design awards

Head on: how Victorian nurses and midwives confronted COVID has been highly commended in the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards. It is the second official award given to the book.

ANMF (Vic Branch) published this hardcover book of members’ stories in 2023. It features 76 first-person accounts capturing the courage, creativity and commitment of members as they met the challenges of a once-in-a-generation pandemic. A companion website features an additional 18 member stories.

The Branch commissioned Multiple Studio to design the book, with a brief to produce an enduring historical record that would tell the stories of nurses and midwives in their own words, and preserve their individual and collective experiences for posterity.

Both the book and website were produced in three months (traditional multi-author book publishing often takes years, not months – factoring in time to commission, write, edit and proof the content in addition to designing, marketing, publishing and distributing the book).

‘We are really proud to have received a Highly Commended award (one of only two awarded) in the Communication Design category at the Premiers’ Design awards,’ said Andie Froutzis, Multiple Studio’s creative director and one of the book’s designers.

‘The success is the result of an extraordinary collaborative effort, and in our humble opinion a dream team. It’s an accolade worth celebrating, but the most important [one is] getting eyes on the enduring stories from ANMF members.’

Behind the design

To capture the authentic experience of Victorian nurses and midwives through the COVID-19 pandemic, every design decision was made with the emotional, physical and psychological experience of nurses and midwives front of mind.

The book and website draw directly from the muted colour palette of PPE equipment. On the website, the titles blur on interaction as a reference to the obscured vision that nurses and midwives experienced when wearing glasses, masks and face shields.

The designers took great care to give each story the space, reverence and individual voice it deserved. In so doing, the stories became both written and visual elements, with each page designed to emphasise the story’s unique theme – highlighting the repetitive donning and doffing of PPE, the overwhelming fear, the sense of loss, the great compassion, the joy in new ways of working or the deep sense of pride in a job well done.

The design deliberately creates quiet moments, segmenting chapters with photography and creating visual rest so that readers can gather their thoughts before entering a new chapter. It concludes with an image of a midwife holding a newborn baby, an offer of hope and a demonstration that despite the trauma, work and life go on.

‘I am honoured to have my story told. It is history in the making.’ – Dianna (contributing author)

Second design award

The book was entered into the Communications Design category of the Victorian Premier’s Design Awards. There were 16 other finalists in this category. Head on shared the Highly Commended recognition with one other finalist.

The award, which was announced on 13 March 2024, is the second such accolade for the book: in December 2023, Head on received an Australian Graphic Design Association Merit Award.

About the book

Head on: how Victorian nurses and midwives confronted COVID was commissioned by ANMF (Vic Branch) to ensure that the experiences of Victoria’s nurses, midwives and carers are preserved for future generations to understand exactly what you and your colleagues went through, and to honour the pandemic contributions of all our 100,000 members.

The book will be important reading for future public health and health policymakers so they understand how their decisions played out and why we need a fully integrated health system. It will also help the community understand what it was like during the pandemic to be a nurse, midwife or a nursing and/or midwifery student and why it was so important to protect our precious health system.

It was launched by the then Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton at the 2023 ANMF (Vic Branch) delegates conference.

‘The stories in this book are at once haunting and inspirational,’ Professor Sutton said. ‘Haunting because the struggles, the pain, the loss and grief, the fear and anxiety are all too real and still too close. Yet inspirational because one cannot help but see the deep commitment to care, the dedication in the face of overwhelming circumstances, and the profoundly human responses to the devastating events that played out over months and then years.’

To read the stories online or purchase the book visit

‘I was astounded at just how wonderful the book is and in hardcover! What a treat!’ – Amy (contributing author)