Jenifer Cooling

In 1960 I became interested in midwifery when, as a second year student nurse, I was seconded for a month to the postnatal ward of the midwifery section of my training hospital.

I joined the South Australian Midwifery Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Royal Australian Nurses Federation (RANF) during my midwifery training in 1962 and never left.

Circa 1890 -1910, my great grandmother made her family home into a ‘Lying-in’ home in the mid-north of South Australia, accommodating the wives of farmers on outlying farms whilst they awaited their baby’s birth. She was taught ‘midwifery’ by the local GP.

In 1977, as President of the SA Midwifery SIG, and encouraged by the SA members I wrote to all other States suggesting a meeting, with the intent of forming an Australian national organisation for midwives. In SA, we were unaware of the ICM Congress in Lausanne, Switzerland and the resolve of Australian midwives who attended to also form a national organisation.

In March 1978, at a meeting in Adelaide, the National Midwives Association was formed. Margaret Peters (Victoria) was the inaugural President, Pam Hayes (NSW) was the inaugural Vice President, and I was the Secretary/Treasurer.

In 1995 I was made a Distinguished Fellow and awarded Life Membership of the Australian College of Midwives. I remained active in the College until retirement in late 1995 and still have a great interest in ACM activities.