Pam Hayes OAM 15 December 1935 – 18 February 2007

Inaugural Vice President ACMI 1978-1983

President ACMI 1983 – 1985

Pam Hayes was a third generation midwife, following her mother and grandmother into the profession. She trained at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney in 1953 and almost immediately went to the Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania to train as a midwife.

Pam worked night duty in a small private hospital in Arncliffe before going to New York in 1960. For a year she worked as a general/paediatric nurse at St Luke’s Hospital in Manhattan, before traveling for three months across the USA to Canada for three months. She ended up working as a nurse and midwife on a small island off the British Columbian coast, half of which was an Indian Reserve, for 18 months.

Pam travelled across Canada and spent some time in England before returning to Australia, where she took a job working in the labour ward at Wollongong Hospital. She describes getting a job ‘perchance’ at the Women’s Hospital (Crown Street) in Sydney in 1963, where she stayed for 20 years until it was closed down. She left the labour ward in 1969 to become the Midwifery Educator, completing her Diploma in Midwifery Education in 1970.

Pam travelled all over NSW and other states and territories taking education programmes, workshops and seminars to midwives. Always ahead of her time in terms of her vision for the profession and her understanding of social issues, Pam lectured about sexuality and health at a time when this was considered quite outrageous:

I was early in trying to challenge the sphere of midwives’ knowledge, to develop an understanding of a couple’s sexuality as part of the midwifery curriculum. I was also trying to establish an appreciation of varying life-styles, migrant (New Australian), alternative ‘hippy’ and communes. I even was reported, reported to the Matron, in 1975, for showing a very simplistic sexuality film to a group of midwifery students… I remember introducing some new material, fighting for the extent of midwives knowledge, thinking about the curriculum we were presenting. Thinking midwives were badly done by compared with doctors and/or nurses, just as I thought women were badly done by compared with men.

Pam was a key player in the setting up of the organisation that would become the Australian College of Midwives. This process began in 1975, when she travelled to Lausanne to the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) conference. Here, Pam met Margaret Peters, a midwife from Melbourne. Along with other Australian midwives at the conference, they resolved to form a national midwifery organisation. Soon after, Pam and Margaret were contacted by Jenny Cooling, a midwife from South Australia, who had the same vision for bringing midwives together from across Australia in order to form a national midwifery organisation (see Jenny Cooling profile).

The coming together of this trio was an important turning point for Australian midwifery. On March 11th 1978, they became the inaugural office bearers of the National Midwifery Association (NMA): Margaret Peters (President), Pam Hayes (Vice President) and Jenny Cooling (Secretary and Treasurer). The NMA would become the Australian College of Midwives in 1983.

An initial conference of the NMA was held in Adelaide in 1979 and, with all the exuberance of the fledgling organisation and with virtually no capital, the group decided on a financial structure to include a scholarship fund and to bid for the hosting of the 1984 ICM Congress. This hugely successful conference put Australian midwifery on the international map and contributed to an enormous increase in members of the College.

Pam was Head of the Midwifery School at Crown Street from 1975. When it closed in 1983, she worked at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) as a Clinical Nurse Educator (Midwifery) until 1991. Pam led the development of the New South Wales Midwives Association (NSWMA – the NSW branch of the ACM) around this time – ‘We ran it from our bedrooms, boots of cars etc before getting our first premises in 1991.’ Pam left RPAH to establish the Ultimo offices of the NSWMA. This meant purchasing the premises, furnishing and establishing the office and organising business routines. She also conducted some of the early programs established for the continuing education of midwives.

Pam was a historian as well as a midwife. She had a superb grasp of the fraught history of heated arguments and constant debates between doctors, nurses and midwives in Australia, dating back to the 1890s. Some of these are evident in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ pages of the journals of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation and the NSW Nurses Association.

There were these big fights with nurses at every stage about nomenclature. We just kept calling ourselves ‘midwives’ when they insisted that we were ‘midwifery nurses’. We ignored the chattering nurses and in continuing to call ourselves ‘midwives’ gradually there was public acceptance of the term. The battle about nomenclature continued over name badges, employment awards and so forth and it is only really in the last year that we are beginning to see midwifery recognised officially.

Pam was instrumental in setting up and curating the historical archives in the NSWMA office. She brought together other midwifery history enthusiasts to organise and maintain the collection through the NSWMA History and Archives Committee. On her death in 2007, the collection was named after her.

In 1990, Pam received the Order of Australia for her services to childbearing women and midwifery. This is a fitting tribute to one who truly ‘midwifed’ Australian midwifery through to its coming of age.

Pam was made a Distinguished Fellow and Life Member of the Australian College of Midwives in 1995.

A conversation with Pamela Hayes

In 1996, Pam sat down for a wide ranging conversation with an unknown interviewer. The conversation was recorded, and a booklet transcript published which is reproduced here, along with the original audio recordings. The original recordings and booklet are held in the Pam Hayes Midwifery Archive.

Click icon to listen to the audio, part 1


DATE: [unknown]


Interviewer [unknown]: [sounds like “An OAM, Pamois” or “An OAM, Pam, wow.”]

Interviewee – Pam Hayes OAM [PH]: Oh! An OAM. Yes.

Interviewer: It must have been an illustrious career. Does it feel like it’s been illustrious?

PH: Yes and no. I have very mixed feelings on “Why me?” sort of thing. I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. On the other hand, I know I have been able to achieve some goals, that I never set for myself but when I look back, I do with pride. And an OAM was something very special.

Interviewer: Who acknowledges it? How do you get the OAM? Is it a peer group recommendation?

PH: I gather so. I gather it… Although that’s meant to be very secretive. I was a little suspicious that something was going on because people started asking— Strange people started asking me for CVs and things which at that stage was a scrap of paper. I, at the time, had been doing quite a lot in setting up the national organisation but I believe it’s the state Midwives’ Association that decided that it would be appropriate to nominate me. They then have to ask for a number of referees, I gather and so that seemed to all have been… All but one have been state activities I was involved in.

Interviewer: And the Order of Australia was awarded after how many years?

PH: I received it in 1990 and I had been working in nursing and midwifery since ’53. So we’re looking at 30 whatever that is. But in midwifery, I guess ‘63 was when I really started. I had done some training before. And I guess they were activities that had been between 1970 and 1990 that really had led to it.

Interviewer: To set the scene, Pamela, can you give us some background? Born where? Schooled where?

PH: OK. I was born in a private hospital in Summer Hill here in Sydney which had been where my mother had nursed and what was interesting is that my grandmother and my mother were both nurses and I think that influenced some of the developments. I don’t remember them ever trying to influence me that way, but I never wanted to do anything but nursing. And my mother used to tell me that a clairvoyant had told her, before she was married and certainly before she was pregnant, she’d had this large daughter who would achieve some greatness in the nursing world, I guess it was at the time. I think that’s really quite fun. But I don’t feel— Ever felt pressured. At school, I did well but never was the top. I went to a selective, St George Girls’ High School but only went to the Intermediate Certificate because I was going nursing. Nurses made no money. “You better go out there and earn some money.” Again, I did OK but I didn’t… I wasn’t in those top classes that went on to university. Because I was going to nurse. A couple of years of working in a… The AMP in a clerical capacity, I started my training at Prince Alfred in Sydney. That was as much a coincidence because it had a good reputation, but it was on the bus route from home. We lived in Earlwood so, you know, it was no great… North Shore didn’t want me because I didn’t have the father in the right position or the right leaving certificate sort of— Or private school qualifications. And that was important to North Shore Hospital at the time.

Interviewer: And this is the period 1953 to ‘57 when you’re training…

PH: At the Royal—

Interviewer: At the Royal Prince Alfred?

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: As a General Nurse?

PH: General Nurse. Yes. The routine General Nurse training. Likewise, I did well but not top of anything. I applied myself. I was interested. Curious. I don’t want to make myself out as any academic brilliant student, but I progressed through the training, with an interest in nursing.

Interviewer: Yeah, and you found it obviously agreeable.

PH: Sure.

Interviewer: Because you stayed in it.

PH: Sure.

Interviewer: All these years.

PH: I enjoyed what I was doing. I didn’t have the focus on midwifery. Interestingly in those years, you had to get a document from your parents to allow you to see a birth if you were under 21. By today’s standards it seems unreal. But, there was at King George a chance for you to view caesarean sections and I— That fascinated me. This baby arriving. So I witnessed far more caesarean sections than was ever required but I didn’t see a baby born ‘til I did my midwifery training.

Interviewer: But those other experiences [indiscernible] your General Nurse training?

PH: Ah, yes, and I think at that stage, I had per chance, done a lot with Neurosurgical Nursing and I thought, “Oh, this is a field where I can offer something to people…” ‘cause there wasn’t much to be offered at that time in the caring. It was a really troublesome time. And it was… On reflection I think it’s been that, that I also found in midwifery subsequently.

Interviewer: You’re talking to a novice Pam but what’s Neurosurgical Nursing?

PH: OK that’s brain surgery. So, we had quite a lot of things. It’s been a specialty that’s enlarged since then but we had a big Neurosurgical Unit at Prince Alfred and the people were… Oh, really badly done by in terms of health, you know, there were car accidents or brain tumours or there were some spinal injuries in those days. That’s… This— In the ‘50s, there wasn’t a lot being able— There were some gun shots as I recall and aneurisms, bubbles in the vessels that needed to be tied off, those sorts of things. But these were really sick people who really needed some solid care. Unable to move or not conscious, whatever. And, it’s interesting that I never went back to it but at that stage, I thought “Oh yes, these are really people who can’t provide care that is needed themselves”. Does that make sense to you?

Interviewer: What I’m trying to work out is what the connection is to midwifery?


Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: Well, the— What was… The connection was, there was… There was I going to do this high super nursing specialty, Neurosurgery. I never did it again and I think “Why?” But, per chance, and I can talk about how I got into midwifery which was coincidence, with some advised sort of moves. I think I found women in labour were needing specialised care. They were really stressed and needed some special care. This was before husbands were in labour wards and there was no one around and you, the qualities that you could provide in the care, was something that was needed. I’m talking about a time in nursing that doesn’t compute with today’s nursing. I guess it was a sort of intensive care type nursing but that didn’t exist in the 1950’s. We didn’t have intensive care units. We didn’t have recovery wards after theatre. We provided lots of that care just in the general ward. So I guess it was an intensity. While Neurosurgery was a long-term intensive type care, midwifery was just the time of your shift or the length of the labour. A much shorter time but it had an intensity of care and you were able to help someone. And, I s’pose recently I’ve been thinking about what led me up to all of this. Now, I mentioned that I’d never gained, or was never going to be anything but a nurse. And I’ve been thinking about some times when I was at school— Primary school, I’m talking about now. “Well, Pam’s going to be a nurse.” I can remember one… I thought she was an OK teacher, made me clean out a blocked sink where some child had vomited into because “Pamela was going to be a nurse”. And it was repulsive. I was heaving my heart out. But if there was a lost or lonely child, I seemed sometimes to be asked to help out ‘cause I would help and that maybe is something that’s been with me for a long time. I may not be right but I mean that’s— I— Just wondering why, this intention to go into Neurosurgery and why then ending up midwifery. But I know those sorts of needing to be helpful were a big consideration when I changed from clinical practice in labour ward to teaching in the school. And I learnt as I went on that the students in the school needed that sort of care and direction and things that I was able to give. It was just a different way of providing some sort of care.

Interviewer: Right so care is the critical element…

PH: I think so.

Interviewer: It’s not the cleaning aspect of nursing [indiscernible]?

PH: No way was it cleaning up vomit. I was never so pleased as to when I was senior enough in my career to send someone else to [laughs] do some of those dirty jobs.

Interviewer: Well in 1957, you went to Royal Hobart Hospital to do your midwifery training. That was an accident was it?

PH: Yes. It w—

Interviewer: How did that happen?

PH: Well, that wasn’t quite so much the accident. That was a calculated decision. In the ‘50s, to have any control over your career, you needed to be what they called a “DC”. A Double Certificate Sister. And so you needed another year in Midwifery, if you were going to be able to choose management positions, rural positions, a whole lot of things, you needed the skills, both of the nurse and of— What we called then a midwifery nurse. And so, I went down there and I chose to go down to Hobart because at that time, I went to a public hospital. Lots of deliveries. No medical students ‘cause there was no medical school to compete with and I knew from experience at PA, or at King George that the medical students and the midwifery students competed for the available deliveries and therefore the valuable experience. So I went down there. Now, the person in charge, in Hobart at that time, was called Tubby Taylor. She was a short dumpy lady who had a private hospital and was one of those, that I’ve learned that there are quite a lot in midwifery, over the years. I meet them from overseas as well as from here. They were, again, caring, resourceful, sort of people. She ran the ward, or the unit, and she did all the teaching. I started after the class because they were very short of trainees there and I… That was the sort of— I didn’t think I’d ever catch up. I’d missed out on some stuff. But we were given loads of experience because they didn’t have the sisters down there either. And so we were given responsibilities that a Midwifery student today, wouldn’t be given. We were really thrown in at the deep end. There was supervision around, and help, but it was a little bit distant. A little bit remote. And you certainly were able to build up your confidence. So I guess what I’m saying is that, a calculated decision to do Midwifery and to do it in Hobart. But it was a coincidence that the sort of training I got down there was… It led to be as useful as it was. It certainly gave me an excitement about the game. The very first woman I saw deliver— Wasn’t having her first baby. Don’t remember what it was but at— We were witnessing it from the end of the bed. And she said to me afterwards “I thought your eyes would pop out”. And I thought, “She’s had this beautiful experience and she’s watching me!” [laughs] And it was… I guess it was that fascination. The fascination I said that I’d had with the caesarean section babies at King George and then that this… This experience led to this beautiful child and this beautiful relationship. And so that at that time was really great.

Interviewer: Is that the reason for the specialisation?

PH: No. No.

Interviewer: Why you hadn’t gone to other…

PH: No. No.

Interviewer: Aspects of nursing?

PH: No. But that was… That led me into an absolute fascination, about then. No I enjoyed Hobart. It was a quiet city. People were friendly. So it stacked up as a great experience for me but… No, I was still going to do Neurosurgical Nursing, I think.

Interviewer: You weren’t going to rush out and have your own babies—

PH: No!

Interviewer: After this magical experience?

PH: No. No. I, at that stage, really thought that I would meet someone and probably have a baby or two or three but no, it was just part of the career path you went down. And I came back to Sydney to— The time I was down there to my parents’ home. The next step was interesting in that I selected to work at a private hospital in Arncliffe. That was a medical, surgical and midwifery hospital. And I selected to work on night duty. Now, my reasons here were, I wanted to make some decisions, for myself, without other people around making them for me, about management. And I wanted to keep up my nursing skills, as well as my midwifery skills. And I did… Oh, I don’t know, 18 months or so, of night duty at this hospital. And we had, I don’t know, anything, 10 to 15 women who’d had babies. I had… And— Upstairs. And downstairs we had a number of surgical patients. I w— I was asked to make a lot of decisions. We took the calls for the practice. That was interesting. The money was a little better on night duty than it was on day duty. I was getting the experience I needed. And…

Interviewer: Needed— The experience you needed for what? I mean I… Just to back track, I’m getting three… I’m interested in you in three things. One’s neurosurgery; one’s midwifery and the other’s management. You already— You were interested in management? This early in your career? 7 years in?

PH: Management not of other nurses at that stage. Management of cases. Being a good nurse midwife.

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: Keeping up skills all ‘round. Yes. Still no thought about… Still no real thought— I guess neurosurgery ‘cause this was a private hospital, it didn’t have lots of those patients in at that time. Open to what the future held. Not pushing myself in any particular direction. Other than to improve my ability in that role.

Interviewer: So, it was a personal, rather than a career quest. It could be read as a career. A driven career.

PH: Yes. Don’t think it was. Hard to know because my next step, seemed to me, I saw an advertisement and I guess I knew I wanted to move on. Answered the advertisement. Was accepted to go over to New York and then, you know, went on from there which was really quite interesting.

Interviewer: What was the advertisement?

PH: Well, it was just… They were looking for Australian nurses… Some—

Interviewer: New York hospitals?

PH: Yeah, that’s right.

Interviewer: A New York City hospital was looking for nurses?

PH: That’s right. Something in my c— In me, my makeup, has asked me to do… Have experiences a little off stream. Now in the ‘50s, it was not unusual for Australians in a position to travel to England. But I chose to travel to America, where, at that time… And that just little bit off beat, has really, on small and larger events in my life allowed— You know, pushed me down that direction. This was an advertisement for Australian nurses ’cause they were short of nurses at St Luke’s Hospital in New York. “Oh! This is a good idea. This gives me a reason for going over there.” I had a position where I could save mo— And I really worked at saving money. They would pay you the equivalent of a return fare from New York to England so it was about one way, from Australia over there. And they would pay you a small amount and provide you with board and lodging for 12 months. It was the sort of deal.

Interviewer: Any other Australians going?

PH: Yep!

Interviewer: How different…? How different is your career is really the question I’m asking at this point?

PH: OK. In… Those went for… Those programs went for maybe five years or so. Maybe they built up the numbers of nurses at that hospital. I don’t know. People later went down more into Texas and places like that. But it— It— We weren’t the first group. But we were early in Australians going to New York. We were always working as unregistered nurses. All our response— Because getting your registration over there was not really easy at that time. But we were given quite a lot of responsibility. It was a good 12 months for me, I mean, I’ve got no… It really was a good 12 months. But it did mean that I had to save. Like give up buying the Women’s Weekly at 4 pence a week or something because that 4 pence was really important. Sometimes not catching the bus home and walking and I’m talking from Arncliffe through Bardwell Park and up to Earlwood and I even did it at night sometimes, to save whatever the train fare was. And it was— I don’t know whether you recall it was the times of “The Kingsgrove Slasher”. And that was hi— The area— This was a man who was slashing the clothing of people in bed and around in the Kingsgrove area but— They discovered— I was walking through that area, not really frightened. It was late at night. But I didn’t always do that, you know, it was some of those— But I did work hard at saving money. My parents didn’t have the money to send me across. My grandmother had left me a small amount of money which I left as a return fare should I need it, sort of thing. It was that sort of life.

Interviewer: Pamela, you describe this in your CV as an exchange studentship medical and paediatric nursing at St Luke’s Hospital and you get a certificate. An American Nursing [indiscernible]. Is that the way it worked? You… Is that what nursing was about? Training, on the job. At the end of a given period you were given a certificate?

PH: OK. This was a special set up for them. The woman whose name I can’t recall now. An English woman was over there. She set up this program to try and get some staffing for the hospital. And… The… The lack of a leaving certificate made it difficult for many of us as— An intermediate was all that you needed to get in to nursing in Australia. A lack of a sufficient secondary education was a problem. And the length of your training in Australia was a problem so I would have had to have studied and spent years so, this was a lot… For anyone training under a British system, and Australia’s was based on a British system. You asked me about… Yes, there were other Australians in a group of about, I don’t know how many we had, 10 or 15. About half of them came from Australia. One, from the hospital from PA, that I knew. Another one, now with a senior position at Sydney University in the Nursing Faculty. Others who have come back and married and not worked in nursing much since. There were some people from the British West Indies. And some people from the UK, Ireland— So they were looking for overseas nurses, who had a standard that they could accept, but whom they wouldn’t register. And so to do it they did give us… Provide us with an education program in American nursing methods and therefore we received a certificate at the end of the 12 months. We were allowed to choose two of four placements. And they were medical, surgical, paediatric or operating theatre. And so I chose the medical paediatric as ones. I spent 6 months in the children’s ward. Fascinating to watch American sick children. The hospital is on one side of Columbia University and on the other side of Harlem so I mean you had… We were down on Manhattan. We had the Balliard… No, Julliard School of Music. We had senior academic programs and all sorts of things based around there. But we also had abject poverty on the other side. And that was an interesting time. They were very careful to— ‘Cause they were responsible for us over there. So they were exceptionally careful of where we were accommodated and we just had free meals while we were there. And… I don’t remember the exact amount but more or less pocket money. But pocket money that we were able to save, which eventually took me on a… About a month’s trip up into Canada. Up and down. On what a lot of people were— Almost a backpacking sort of thing but we went on… They were like a Greyhound bus. A Trailways bus. And we travelled— Traversed United States seeing all sorts of things on little money.

Interviewer: So it was a learning, training and life experience. It was… It was all worthwhile?

PH: It certainly was. It was… Yes, it motivated me to see other ways. They… They provided a care— I think they… In some ways, their nurses were given far more responsibility and others far less. And we had, at one stage, in child management, in the children’s ward, they needed a psychologist, psychiatrist to come down and look because the Americans chastised their children far less severely than those from Britain who, if they said that they needed to stay in bed, that’s what they meant. They didn’t sit down and discuss with them. Now, I’m talking about the ‘50s out here but, you know, what the parents said really went. And so we were surrogate parents in that sort of level. And so we had a… A real difference in caring. The 6 months in the medical ward, I had, was… Well, I made great friends with a per— I was two different medical wards. Three month placements. I travelled with the charge nurse of one of those wards for a few years afterwards. They were both very private and I meant very private. They are— These were wealthy people. And people… What I did there was met lots of people who were fascinated by Australia. Lots of people who were ignorant about Australia. Really didn’t know… Like, the usual confusing us with Austria but not really knowing where we were or we weren’t or whether we spoke English or, you know, what really gives—

Interviewer: Hasn’t changed.

PH: No, it hasn’t. No I heard one of the Olympic basketballers saying they didn’t know we played basketball in Australia. So they didn’t grade them. And that was along those lines. But we had people who were exceptionally generous. I got to see a different American from the one that a lot of Australians think of as brash and garish. I found generous, welcoming people who invited us into their homes. Didn’t let us spend high days and holidays on our own. That sort of thing. You know, went to a lot of trouble to make sure we saw them. And we had this mixture around.

Interviewer: You mentioned that the training was different in the United States from Australia. Are you suggesting that their tertiary training, some different system there and, is that link— I’m jumping a little here. Is that linked to the drive you were part of later, to get…

PH: Not sure.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] education and to put the [indiscernible]?

PH: I certainly saw another possibility. But, yes, this was one of the last hospital-based schools. But it was a very elite school. Like, on graduation, each of their trainees received a gold, and I mean a solid gold badge on graduation. We were next door to the Cathedral of Notre Dame I think— Anyway it was a big episcopal cathedral. They had this big graduation there and they had uniforms that [indiscernible] else. They wore them. They had big leg mutton sleeves with little buttons down… They wore, you know, on these high days. They had very— Education centered their life, when they trained rather than, we did a service. Ours was— We got some education and I had no problems with the education of the day at Prince Alfred. But we were there to serve. That was the paying— Pay back, for… You know, we— They got a lot of cheap labour in hospitals in those days. Whereas in the United States they were moving in. Moving in is what they were doing, into all tertiary education. But at that hospital not quite, but a far more in depth education program, than we’d had out here.

Interviewer: Quite big?

PH: Yes. Far more involved. Broader. Deeper.

Interviewer: We’re talking about science here? Involved, in what way? You’re getting more specific training in the medical areas? Or you’re getting more involved in the cases? You were talking about more responsibility?

PH: Yes, I don’t know. I had mixed feelings about their clinical experience. But they would have longer hours, in education. For example, at Prince Alfred in third year when I was doing specialties, it was common for us to be on night duty and have to get up at three thirty in the afternoon or six to go to lect… To a lecture. One hour in duration, at which the person giving the lecture may or may not turn up. Mostly doctors. I certainly did some of my examinations having worked all night ‘til six… Six thirty in the morning and then did an exam from nine ‘til twelve. That sort of thing. Because our clinical service, and, the experience that I might have had on that night, could have been that I was in charge of a ward that had 30 to 50 really sick people.

Interviewer: And how does that differ from the [indiscernible]?

PH: OK. Well that 30 to 50 really sick people, and I mean really sick people, was giving us a lot of on-the-job experience without having lots of formal education by experts in their field. Whereas the American system if they were doing a specialty, probably had four, 6, 8 weeks of lectures and then applied clinical experience in that area. I mean we may well be working with eyes and studying bowels or something, you know, it was really very different. And so they had longer education and more assigned clinical experience, set time. But far more— And I would think they did far more in the sci— Basic sciences than we did in our program. Ours was a job-oriented semi-apprenticeship type education.

Interviewer: What still under the influence of Florence Nightingale [indiscernible]?

PH: I think so, yes. Yes. We hadn’t changed, then, too much in Australia. It had improved. I mean we had a PTS of 6 weeks when we first went in so we weren’t thrown in. Our PTS was a Preliminary Training School where you learned how far to fold the sheets under and what piece of equipment this was or wasn’t. And that was an improvement to what earlier people had had but ours tended to be a one hour lecture every now and then. I mean that continued for quite a while. And I guess I was really pro our altering some of our training methods. I really didn’t think— What they expected of some of those trainee nurses… For example, one of the things that really bugged me was handling death. Now, I guess at this stage I was in second year. Although the first ward I walked in we had someone died each day, each shift you were on in that ward. I remember as I was senior enough to have to lay the person out, I started to have this grin and I didn’t know what it was all about and I put a mask over because I was embarrassed because I was grinning. But I subsequently learned later down the piece that it was a reaction to something I was horrified about. And no one helped you cope with all these horrors that you were having to deal with. I mean, grotesque wounds, grotesque diseases, grotesque smells, behaviour difficulties and certainly mourning relatives and people that you cared for. And you were 17 and that was really hard and so— That — I don’t think that was fair. Whether the current system has improved it a lot I’m not sure. But— I’ve got mixed feelings about that. I really thought that that was not good enough for putting young girls in. Fairly secluded. Well, I mean they acted as loco parentis in hospitals. They locked you in at night and did a whole lot of other things that I don’t think we need to talk about today but that was the training of the day and so we were away for the community but you really didn’t… Other than the group of people who started around you, your peer group in your training days, in which you could go off and beef or carry on about, you know, trau— Cope with some of the horrors as best you could. Nasty people. I mean some of the staff you worked with were pigs. How about that?

Interviewer: But what about in America? Is this— Is it very different, the relationship…

PH: Well…

Interviewer: Of, that you experienced between the nurse and the patient?

PH: What I saw in that hospital, in St Luke’s, at that stage, was trainees I felt were cossetted. In the paediatric ward, we had a little negro girl who’d been badly burned. Badly burned. And she had great behavioural problems. And the negro girls would get a pink flesh regrowth rather than their dark and this girl was terror— She wouldn’t eat. She wouldn’t do anything. Someone must have had that case to manage, and she was being cared for in sterile sheets, which was a practice at the time. And she was, for whatever reason had had a bowel motion in the bed and there she is with all these awful burns. And to punish her this American student, let her lie in all this faeces. [laughs] And I said something to her and then I was hauled up to her supervisor, why did I dare question the management of this. Now, I had a lot more experience than this girl did but that was when I was talking about we had difficulties in handling people and chastising and things and those American trainees were being taken along by a supervisor. Whereas we didn’t ever see our supervisor from time to time. We… We were thrown in at the deep end and they weren’t. They were guided through their learning experiences.

Interviewer: Does it make a lot of difference for the patient?

PH: It’s really hard to know, isn’t it. There came along a British doctor… We were trying to feed this child, I can remember, chocolate sultanas, Chocolate Fins, we used to call them, were the first thing that she’d eat. And they were very good about it but I don’t know, you don’t ever… I mean I was 6 months in that ward but that girl was going to have years— Goodness knows, she might be a terrible child now, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I did see sad situations there right through. Sometimes the American doctors would come and ask us to help where there were breast feeding problems because they really didn’t know too much. They were bottle feeding their babies. So we had some skills that they didn’t have. They had different approaches. I’m not saying they were right and they were wrong. I thought some of the things that they did made sense but…

Interviewer: Are you saying the quality of the nursing in America that you experienced and the nursing in Australia that you experienced was much of a muchness if— Even if the practices were slightly different and the training procedures were slightly [indiscernible]?

PH: Yes. There are good and bad in all fields. And yes, it was a different way of healing a person, I guess.

Interviewer: But the result was the [indiscernible].

PH: Oh, yes I would think so. Yeah.

Interviewer: OK.

PH: Most of them got better and some of them died like they did back at home.

Interviewer: I’d like to proceed with the next 10 years, between St Luke’s when you go to Albert Bay… But it’s not until 1970… 1970’s that you get into actually— Into education type of things.


Interviewer: What’s happening over that period of time?

PH: OK. Alert Bay in Canada off the British Columbia coast, beautiful island, half of it an Indian Reserve. Half of it a business area for the logging, fishing, mining in the area. Again, provided me with general and midwifery. It was an isolated hospital. It was a big hosp— 70-bed hospital. But they had trouble getting trainees. We worked as unregistered nurses but always in charge. We did that because we had midwifery skills. And so I was, again, seeing something different in midwifery. I was looking at North American practices. But I was also looking after general people. I had a very happy time while I was there. But I had kept up both my skills there. A little bit coincidentally, it was a hospital that was taking on unregistered staff. We got a dollar a shift, bless, I think for being unregistered. Silly practice, but anyway, that’s how it happened. And very good. And then I went travelling for a while and came back to Australia. Decided I’d been away for nearly three years and I was a bit sick of the move and the suitcases and those sorts of things but had loved all the travelling. Now by now, I was travelling with that American charge nurse. And she was new in Australia. For an American nurse, it was Shock! Horror! “You’re coming out here to work?” sort of thing. And we went into the Registration Board and they advised that maybe she should go to a hospital that wasn’t too big but was big enough. She had got experience. So that she could see what Australian nursing methods were. And they suggested that maybe Wollongong would be a place like that. So, the two of us went down to Wollongong. And she worked in a recovery room for which she was familiar but was new at the hospital so she had some skills to take there. And I was asked would I like to work in the labour ward, in the maternity unit. Now I didn’t ask to do that. This was one of these series of coincidences that threw me into midwifery. I enjoyed the 6 months I was there. I didn’t leave Wollongong… Or we didn’t leave Wollongong because of the work. It was a difficult area to break into. You really needed to have three generations in Wollongong to break into a Wollongong… And we found ourselves coming up to Sydney quite a bit to go to the dentist or to do whatever. And so, it seemed like we’d come up to Sydney again because that would be… We built a little bit on the outskirts. We were able to communicate with the migrants of the time who also weren’t being accepted but, you know, there was going to be more to life so… And that was the area—

Interviewer: [indiscernible]?

PH: Yes I think so of the time. Yes I do think it was at the time. Not unpleasant when I was on duty. I wasn’t unhappy. But not one in which we settled down. At all. So we came up to Sydney and we got a job at Sydney Hospital. We got a flat at… In Potts Point. I’m not quite sure of the sequence and I got a job at Crown Street. Now that was an add in the paper I answered. It was no more or less. Crown Street Hospital wasn’t a place I knew a lot about. Except that, when you went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, every— The bus came up from Central Railway and drove past it. And at one stage it was painted blue, because that was ex-war paint that was available or something and so I— That’s how I knew it. And then a friend of mine who didn’t, was going to do her— Some training there and… I knew no more or less about it.

Interviewer: And it is a specialist hospital and its… Is its specialty midwifery? Or does it…? Did it do other [indiscernible]?

PH: The only other thing it really did was gynaecology.

Interviewer: So it’s a women’s— OK, it’s a gynaecological [indiscernible].

PH: It was a special women’s health… And of course, later the neo-nates but I mean all those sorts of associated things. I can see the add in The Herald now. And I answered it.

Interviewer: The reason I’m asking you is, it’s coincidence. The ads there and you’ve answered it and you want a job, you take it. Would…? The question I’m… That occurs to me at this point is, did you see your career, up until this point which is the early ’60s, as having been pretty well balanced. It’s not the— It’s not a… It’s not an emphasis on midwifery. There’s a mix of experience and training…

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: That wouldn’t have said midwifery is where I’m going.

PH: It helped me with a social life and travel and all those sorts of things. I guess, any position I took at that time was going to get into a specialty, be the speciality medicine or surgery, but it was going to get into a speciality ‘cause they were the jobs that were around. The training, the broad spread of experience is a preparation and you moved around. I… I don’t recall any thought about specialising in midwifery up until that stage.

Interviewer: But that’s where it starts now?

PH: That’s where it starts to happen.

Interviewer: So what is so critical about Crown Street that it leads you into this…?

PH: I didn’t ask to work anywhere in particular. Maybe, because I had a broad experience or I was somewhat confident. Or, I’d been working in labour ward. Labour ward was a specialised— They sent people they liked there, if you know what I mean. That was a sort of a good area, a good job to get. But I didn’t ask for it. And I was se— And then loved it. I really did find that I liked the work. We had five midwives a shift with five pupils a shift at that time. We were delivering 15, average, I s’pose, 10 to 20 a day, babies. I liked the teaching of the students. I liked the caring of the patients. The clients. I loved watching babies arrive. It was a university teaching hospital. All of those things, I enjoyed. I enjoyed the staff I worked with. And in the first year… We had a very hierarchical system where, you know, you were more senior by the ti— The length of time there. Which did become critical in some later decisions but a lot of people above me moved on in the first 12 months so I had a relatively senior position fairly quickly in the time I was in the labour ward. And that I seemed to have enjoyed. But I enjoyed whatev— Wherever I was working, whatever I was doing and as I said some of the peop— There were people there that I didn’t like I must say, and some people who frustrated me. Some people who were more senior to me in years of service there but not in experience in the field, you know, but I’d trained earlier than they had. And so, that was it. There were some other things going on at that time in that I must have felt I was getting into a rut.

Interviewer: What period is this? Are you t—? The late ‘60s?

PH: Ah, between ’63 and ’68, somewhere— I would be— ’65, ’68, something like that. It was also an exciting time if I say ’65. We started to have the advent of outsiders like husbands initially into the delivery room to be with their wives and things. That was an important issue. But the other things that I was a bit anxious about not being in a rut, was because I saw some more senior people who were in a rut and I didn’t like what I saw because, you know, that was just coming to work and doing a job. But also, the woman in charge of the labour ward was going to retire. And there was some competition to improve their academic standing, as some people who were vying for her job and for the first time I thought about doing further education, but I really pushed it out of sight but I saw that happening. I talked a lot and that must have been more back in the ‘65s because I’m just remembering walking to a bus, talking to one of the other people, a person, about “What to do now”. You know, “Where to go now.” So I was started to think about a career. I was also at this stage thinking “I haven’t met a guy that I want to marry. I don’t look like I’m going to have marriage and motherhood as my future. This is going to be your future, then you better shape it a bit more. Not the broad one, you better think about what you’re doing”. So that was also another factor at that time.

Interviewer: So, this rut you’re talking about, was something you observed in others, it’s something you felt was starting to comply to your own life. I’m wondering whether, in 1965 when this was happening, other practices in the hospital, midwifery, and otherwise, much the same as they were in 1953. Has there been a big change in any way? The fathers are coming in…

PH: They were just starting to happen. Just starting to happen.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]

PH: Remembering that, I’d worked in smaller hospitals, less specialised hospitals than Crown Street in the other one, places I’d been at. There was some research going on. There was work being done with neo-nates and things so I found— Always found that a bit exciting. But, there were— There were a lot— This is the start of the era where they educated the woman first and then the couples about pregnancy and labour so they would be more knowledgeable. The woman started to, from necessity, focus on her husband, less than the God Doctor. So there was that. It was also a time when we had lots— So there was the Italian, Greek migrant generation there— Maltese. We had at that stage there. That was interesting…

Interviewer: It made a difference? [indiscernible] about their culture?

PH: There was a lot different in caring for them. Not necessarily understanding their expectations about birth, not always being able to communicate…

Interviewer: You’re talking about the mothers and the fathers to be or just…?

PH: I wouldn’t think Italian, Greek, Maltese fathers came in ‘til much later in the ‘70s and almost the time I was going. Another thing that we did have there at Crown Street were the large number of girls who were entering their babies for adoption. That was something else that I had a compassion for I guess. Or felt— Felt, in hindsight, that I had a compassion for, an understanding, a concern about— I can remember feeling punitive to the father. I wanted, at one stage, in ignorance, to drag all these guys in and put them in the next room and make them listen to these women suffer while they were having babies and they had gone off and weren’t supporting them. I really had a compassion for the situation where those girls found themselves in.

Interviewer: So, Pamela, you’re sa— It seems that in 1965, or thereabouts, it’s… There’s a conjunction of things hap— There’s a soc— There are social changes that are affecting your career, there’s your personal changes that are affecting your career and are there medical and nursing practices that are changing as well? Is this a sort of a lift off or a watershed period when things begin to shift?

PH: May well be. Haven’t identified this. This could be a time when this started. It might have been ’66 or 7, you know, I’m not going to pinpoint a time. When we started to have this, what we called 9 to 5 obstetrics where there started to be far more medical intervention. There started to be far more… The swing from public to private. The early days, as I saw it, there was about a third private and intermediate and two-thirds that were public. Because of medical benefits [?? “and all those” or “and the lows” ??], we started to get less public. Lots of those single or migrant. And more private. And more, with the private doctors there tended to be gradually more inductions, epidural blocks which was a pain relief, although I was, in the early days, exceptionally supportive of that as an intervention. And then, the sequelae comes that there is more forceps deliveries, medical technology, whichever euphemism you want. Medical intervention, medical technology, being applied. That, then, turned around when the women said “Hey, childbirth should be normal and we want it again” but that’s that sort of rise, you know. And it— It’s— It’s like the doctors, who were doing the medical intervention needing to program their life a little bit more and… And some of the work that the midwives were doing was being taken away, as some of their approach to normality. That’s when I started sort of thinking “Oh, midwives are getting a raw deal”. “They’re not getting the deal they got before”.

Interviewer: When you said there’s more medical intervention, is that happening at— In the—  With the private patients, not so much—?

PH: Yeah.

Interviewer: The public patients.

PH: Very much so.

Interviewer: The public patients are left alone.

PH: Yeah.

Interviewer: Left on their own.

PH: It’s a little bit simplistic to say “Let’s blame all obstetricians”. I mean there was a hesitancy in using some medical intervention for the single girls because they would get— End up with a scarred uterus or they would let them labour a bit longer because they wanted a vaginal delivery or, you know, they— Not a punishment, although that’s what people are talking in the press today. It was really… Well, at Crown Street. And I really can’t say for anywhere else. It was a ver— It was a… Something else I really liked. It was a hospital that had charitable overtones. Almost Christian overtones in “OK, we’ve got a lot of people who life has kicked in the face” but they were non-judgmental. They accepted them. They treated them. They didn’t punish them. They did their best for them. And that was right through. The senior medical people, at the time, at Crown Street, were gentlemen. They were far more gentlemen. It was something I noticed, about it, and I was— They used… They were respectful of people. Well, that’s how I saw it anyway. And, I liked all those sorts of things that was happening. I liked research that was going on and gave a reason for things happening. I enjoyed the people I mixed with on duty. I moved into the nursing home because that American girl returned to New York. So I was mixing with them off duty as well. I liked being able to provide compassion and care. And that was to public and private. Everyone who’s— Every woman who’s in labour, is needing understanding and support and a bit of education and a bit of let— Giving her some choices and things. I respected the medical staff that I was working with, I mean I won’t say 100% but generally speaking. And so, I approved of some of the changes that were happening. Had some ups and downs about them but I… I generally approved of them.

Interviewer: You mentioned that the place of the midwife had become more subsidiary to the medical practitioner, is that correct? And how did you feel about that at this point?

PH: Yes I did feel that. I— I felt that— We were allowed to make judgements. Say in Hobart when I was training, profound judgements I made as a trainee. And there were more and more residents wanting experience and wanting to make some of those judgements and there were less clients so less women who were single or migrant is how I saw the public patients. That’s not quite true but I mean that’s how you perhaps perceived them. Whereas in the private labour ward, I did feel that there was some judgements being made that we could have improved on. The next lot really came when I left the labour ward in ’69. “Busy-ness” of Crown Street increased but some more of that intervention increased afterwards and then the women started to protest.

Interviewer: But you didn’t?

PH: No.

Interviewer: I’m trying to place you…

PH: I— OK.

Interviewer: In the hospital. How are you feeling about these changes that are happening?

PH: I left labour ward in 1969 because I was restless and a position was available in school and I had a back injury so I was struggling with the physical load of some of the work in the labour ward so for a number of reasons, it seemed a good career move. It seemed a good personal move at the time.

Interviewer: I guess I’m looking—

PH: Yes. Yes.

Interviewer: For the driving force behind this because—


Interviewer: You become, in the ‘70s, hyperactive. If that’s the right word. Super active. You’re very involved. You’re doing a lot of things.

PH: OK. I think I— Yes, it’s a bit hard to —

Interviewer: Does it come out of this experience?


Interviewer: Are you trying to shape the future of midwifery? Is that what you were doing?

PH: No. No, I wasn’t. Maybe, if I had any influence on it, I did, but no, I wasn’t… I— I wasn’t that driven. At that time. I was personally driven I think. I needed to move things. No, I believe that midwives, generally, supported the women, in the changes and argued with the doctors but I think that it was a woman-led, parent, couple-led protest about it. And midwives, as women, supported that. And I think it was as much the women as their p— Thing. I… I don’t think they were protesting the loss of role at all. And there’s still a lot of midwives very happy for it to be the doctors’ handmaiden. And I haven’t learnt how to cope with them. Yet.

Interviewer: And in 1969 your teaching career commences…

PH: Yes.

Interviewer: And this is a big change because—

PH: Oh, that started…

Interviewer: It leads to lots of different things, doesn’t it?

PH: Yes, lots of things. I was seeking to do something different to, for all the reasons I’ve said before, leave the clinical placement. And I enjoyed teaching. I enjoyed the contact with the students. It was a hurdle like there was no tomorrow. I remember spending a weekend planning a lecture on menstruation and fertilisation and having to… To give it up. It was like… But I gradually learnt to be able to organise my lectures. And students related, I believe, well to me and so that’s… That’s very positive.

Interviewer: Is the education formal at this stage? Is there a curriculum of study? Or do you kind of invent it as you go? You draw on your experience. You— You— You… You give your lectures…

PH: OK. No, there was someone in charge of the school, who told me, you know “This is what you ought to do”. I did a lot of practical teaching at this stage and I had been teaching students how to deliver babies or how to do a lot of clinical things, over the years. I now had to give upfront, for a one-hour class that they would come in from wherever to attend, in 1969. That’s how it was. So, hence the planning. What did they need to know? I didn’t know anything. I was not a trained educationalist. I was a fairly natural teacher because I talk, constantly. And I like making things easy for others to understand so I’ll find a way around that. But that was where I was going at that time. I was giving some formal lectures, in a classroom— Tiered classroom situation. One hour. “Don’t be too late ‘cause some of them have got to go back on duty.” “They’ve got to pass exams on that.” There was a curriculum laid down by the Registration Board but how that was allocated around was someone else not my responsibility. And I enjoyed that year. What happened in ’69, was I— Some people must have noted me around, somehow, because one of the Assistant Directors of Nursing, a Maree Newtown, asked me would I like to go to an oration at the College of Nursing. And this was big time, to me, you know. This was the pinnacle. There was no university education for nurses or midwives to speak of at that time. Certainly not in Nursing or Midwifery. And I went to this oration which is in the Great Hall at Sydney University and it’s all drama and the theatrical interest, you know, with the red coats and the… Whatever. The capes and things. Oh, that was just wonderful. Also, some people who had been to the College and not succeeded but I thought “Well if they can try, I can do it”. This has been— This is how I learned to drive. “If she can drive a car, so can I.” Didn’t crash it too often in learning. So I applied to go to the College and do a Diploma in the “C” Education Midwifery and went off and then learned, well, yes, tertiary education, which that was considered, caused me problems but I learned to cope. Loved the contact and all those sorts of things.

Interviewer: This was during 1969 or…?

PH: No this is ‘70. ‘69 I was doing teaching at Crown Street. However, I also had some other problems at that. 1970, I bent over to straighten a hose and my back went and I— So I was really crawling around for a while in hospital in traction. Real difficulties in moving and a couple of months, I guess, later my mother died. And that meant a whole lot of upheavals that went on in ‘70. Selling the house and I moved in with my brother and sister-in-law and their children. So there were a whole lot of personal situations to cope with. I had a small scholarship but basically I had little money coming in that year so it was a really scrooge sort of time. But I enjoyed the contact and th— That showed me other things could happen. But I did learn. Not so much from the educational educators, the people who were meant to be teaching me how to teach, but from some others there who were natural teachers and I could observe and watch and see how they worked things. And that allowed me then to go back. Now the person in charge of the school, went away with her husband to South Africa for several months and I was able to move the schoo— Oh, I mean, she’d set it up but I moved the school to a new location. Settled it down. And introduced some things that had happened that I’d learnt about in teaching. Some discovery learning and some of those sorts of things. So I was now using my accumulated midwifery knowledge but putting it into education and really focussed on education. But also in that 1970, some gurus of midwifery, international gurus came out. One was a Margaret Miles, who’d written The textbook that would be used for some years. And she came out with a Marjorie Bayes, who was the Head of the International Confederation of Midwives. These were elderly… I’m not quite sure, in their, but I would have thought ‘70s sort of age group, people who’d been around. And they made some things… Or they enabled some things to happen in Australia. When I came back in ’71 then, becau— Having listened to Margaret Miles and Marjorie Bayes, I thought “Oh well, maybe I can learn more about the profession”. Someone said “Why don’t you apply to be on the New South Wales Midwives’ Association”. I don’t know if we called it an Executive then. But that— That’s enough, to say that. And I— I was and that then led me into bigger and better things. Because I was starting to talk to people, learn about things that were happening of an organisation. Up until that time I’d said “Boring. Who wants to go to listen to the Minutes called, listen to—” All that sort of procedural stuff that’s got to get done. And people would say “Oh, but you hear great papers” but I wasn’t missing papers because I could sit in on some of the classes that were happening to the students and… I had this, sort of, moves, people pushing me gently, I guess, into some opportunities. And then again, finding that that was fine so, I haven’t been out of the Midwives’ Association since. But by ’75, Marjorie Bayes had allowed New South Wales to join the International Confederation, as a member state. We didn’t have anything in Australia. But she allowed Melbourne, South Australia and New South Wales to join. And they became members of the international body in Washington, I guess, in ’72. And the first meeting that we could go to and listen to, Executive meetings and Council meetings and things was in ’75. And this was in Lausanne in Switzerland and I went over to that. I listened to some of the Council meetings. There were about 30 Australians there. But we’d been asked to have an Australasian representative on a group called ICM FIGO. That was the International Confederation of Midwives and the International Federation of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, who were putting out a book called “Maternity Care in the World” which was a rundown of how— The practices, across the world. They’d got some money from the States, to do this. And my travel plans allowed me to attend that meeting, officially. We tried some other people and it didn’t work. So, I went off, after the Lausanne conference, to London. Met all these senior people. Someone asked me to give a vote of thanks to one of the groups who was providing hospitality. And they read out an apology from the Queen. I thought “The bloody Que—!” [laughs] You know. Wow-whee! You know, this is really big time. But I also met there another Australian who had decided that it was time that she got involved with this. This was a Margaret Peters. Margaret Peters was from the… She probably was still the Deputy Director of Nursing… Assistant Director of Nursing, I’m not quite sure, at the Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. And so we met and we made some “Oh! We must do, when we get to Australia” sort of suggestions about forming some sort of national organisation. Coincidentally, at the Lausanne meeting, the Australian representative on the Council came from South Australia, a Jenny Cooley. And so, she was the one, then, who got South Australia to come and dialogue with us. And it took a little while. It took ‘til ’78, ’7… ’78, something like that, for us, to start talking about how we could set up a national organisation. Now there’s all sorts of complex things that we had to do in New South Wales. We had had this long-term affiliation or a special interest group, with a group called the ATNA, the Australian Trained Nurses Association. They in turn had been taken over by the New South Wales Nurses’ Association. And so we had become a subgroup of them. That was— In the Victorian, or the Melbourne-Sydney rivalry, we had always been apart. They had a different group. A Royal Australian Nursing Federation then. So we didn’t have any national organisation, that could be the umbrella, for these state organisations. South Australia and Victoria did but not New South Wales.

Interviewer: I’d like to ask a question here if I may, the [indiscernible] train of thought. The organisations, the activity… In the telling am I getting the impression just because it’s being told to me that there’s all these organisations and this activity or are they just being formed? In other words, had the Midwives’ Association, the international body, the various state bodies, had they been around for some time? Or is this something that’s starting to happen in the— In the ‘70s? And if it is something that’s starting— It’s not.

PH: No. I can’t give the start of the RANF but basically New South Wales set up the Australian Trained Nurses Association. Some senior nursing people in 1890… Something or other. 7, I think. To establish standards of education and practice. Right? And the New South Wales midwives’ bra— Branch was 1903. The New South Wales Nurses’ Association, became a union, which the ATNA and its structure couldn’t be in 1920 or something. So they’d been around all that time.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]. In different circumstances. Different contexts.

PH: Yeah. New South Wales Midwives’— The Nurses Association was just in New South Wales. But Victoria wouldn’t come in and be part of the old ATNA and they set up the Victorian Nursing Council and somewhere there’s this Royal Australian Nursing Federation set up. And I’m not quite sure of those periods.

Interviewers: There’s lots of bodies.

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: There’s lots of nursing bodies.

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: And you’re talking about another rep— Another one.

PH: I’m—

Interviewer: A national one. What? To pull it all together or…?

PH: We’re talking about just… They were nursing bodies. We’re now talking about midwives’ bodies. And how best to do that. And so, we—

Interviewer: There were state bodies. There were state midwives…?

PH: Three.

Interviewer: Three.

PH: OK. So there were Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. We had… We were small bickies. We had about 40 members. South Australia was the biggest of them and Victoria in the middle. We met in New South Wales, monthly. And the big meetings were when we discussed the State Midwifery Finals so people had reasons to find out what… Why students had or hadn’t done well. I mean that was… And then we had the occasional other meeting and they— We looked at midwifery but… So we met. Now, what is… To cut it just a little bit short, it seemed appropriate for us, in New South Wales, to withdraw from the New South Wales Nurses’ Association as a sub-branch. Which we did. Caused all sort of consternation. And formed under the RANF, which was a smaller body in New South Wales. It was a smaller body. But allowed us then, to form nationally as the National Midwives’ Association, a sub-branch or a… Of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation. And that we did in 1978. We instructed a couple of people who were going to the ICM Congress at that time, in Israe— Jerusalem. And we had our first conference in Adelaide in 1979 because it was convenient.


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DATE: [unknown]


PH: Midwifery was a speciality. PA was sort of nursing. So we’ve got a smaller group with a Head of School. I don’t know, maybe you want to say I’m more pushy. Maybe at— I saw this was the way to go. I—

Interviewer: You’re a woman with a mission. Is that what you are?

PH: Maybe. Haven’t actually ever identified that to myself. But, eventually, yes.

Interviewer: So you stand out because you’re the Head of a school that’s the biggest school… Midwifery school, at the most prestigious women’s hospital…?

PH: Yes.

Interviewer: And that’s why nobody from anywhere else was asked to do the sort of things that you did?

PH: I think it’s not quite as blatant as that. I think there’s a lot of little things that add up to it because I really started before I was Head of School. I mean I went to Lausanne before I was Head of School. I went to those New South Wales Midwives’ Association… Council, Executive, whatever they were, meetings. We followed through with a little bit of research at one stage. Somewhere in there, something happened to start me pushing and speaking and talking and maybe developing a mission. Little things, like if I… Well, it’s later but in ’79 finding out about those Aboriginal babies. “What can we do about that?” “How can we improve the programs to…” To do that. I mean it was someone else’s decision but I would have said that. I can remember making comments to the authorities in the Northern Territory about some conditions in the labour ward that I thought were grotesque. And I— It was almost like “OK Pam, have the courage of your convictions to say something. You think this isn’t right”. Like there was a metal and glass cabinet in the delivery room with all these metal instruments in it which I thought must have been the most off-putting situation for women to labour and saw all these… And it reminded me of something that had happened in my childhood in a doctor’s surgery. And, but— But— I found that was a need for courage but feeling… [laughs] And this is a bit of that Don Quixote of having the courage of your convictions is to fight. Whatever I perceived. They didn’t al— Other people didn’t always perceive it. Of— When I went up to the North Coast area to be accepting of the home birth commune group up there and some of the people and try and help others see that they didn’t have a dead baby under every rose bush and dead mother under every tree. Of trying to right the wrong. Does that make sense?

Interviewer: Yes. Yes.

PH: Of my perceived wrongs. And of being outspoken. Of being an able teacher. Sometimes a lot better than others. Sometimes spontaneously being able to have everyone in stitches but remember what I’d said. And others giving the most boring paper that anyone has ever given. And that’s usually because I’ve over… Tried too hard to give a good paper. It’s been sometimes a spontaneous chat but… Well it’s never been a chat but the point I’m trying to make was in there.

Interviewer: The structure of nursing in the state, in the ‘70s, is it a lot of individuals hospitals following the basic curriculum but perhaps taking a few leads from somewhere like Crown Street and then pulling you in as in the case of that…


Interviewer: Instance in the north of the state? Or, you know, are you being sent out by somebody else? Or do you offer your services?

PH: In the 70’s generally there is change afoot. And that is, putting nursing education initially into Colleges of Advanced Education. And, in midwifery, providing a different education. Giving them time off from their workload to have education. That had nothing to do with me. I supported the move, but it really happened despite me.

Interviewer: And Midwifery is the specialisation after the general training —–

PH: Yes.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] in the Colleges?

PH: Yes, the last of the direct entry, what they called direct entry midwifery training, had stopped by ’70. And so people were looking at the quality of the education, trying to make changes for the better. There were all sorts of— And we were preached some of this at College in the ’70, you know, so that I’d picked up those sorts of ideas and I liked some and I didn’t like others. I did try some fairly innovative programs, some that worked, some that didn’t work in education at Crown Street. People asked me, and I’m not quite sure that I ever questioned them “Why me?” Now, somewhere along the line, they asked me as a Crown Street person, some as an able educator, later some, but this is more into ’80, Nurses Registration Board midwife. Someone may be prepared to make comments or they’d heard me making comments. I think it was all of those. Maybe Hea— President of the Midwives’ Association. I’m not quite sure where the timing all fits into that.

Interviewer: There was a move, do you think, in the ‘70s then to… Perhaps only a small group of you, I don’t know. Perhaps you can help us with that one but to make a national body that culminates in this ‘81 International Conference. Is that the…?

PH: OK. So, the late ‘70s, there was a small group. That was a push to try and say I mean that was me perceiving that we should nationally get together, meeting with some peop— Taking the New South Wales Midwives’ Association along with me. I may have been President of the New South Wales Midwives’ Association around about that time. But in part it had to do with me being at that meeting in London, meeting up with Margaret Peters. In part, I think they came over because I was in Adelaide, because I was President and had an initial chat and asked me over. So, that was a small group of people, wanting to push. The nurses, that we were a subgroup of, never saw that we should have our own organisation and they’ve been opposed it. And that might have made me rear my hackles and oft them. I mean I’ve always belonged to them and I don’t see why they can’t exist and we can’t exist, in combination but they’ve never been excited about us withdrawing from them. But then, we withdrew from the nursing organisation umbrellas because they paid lip service or no service to asking us, consulting us, about our specialty. Not anyone else’s but about our specialty. And so why should we. And we were never so success— From having that 40, 60 people, back then, once we, in New South Wales, withdrew from the two groups, RAN, before that, the Nurses— Our membership rose dramatically. And it rose— It doubled every year, until about 2 or 3 years ago and it’s plateaued out. And that’s not one reason. There’s lots of things that I believe in that I— I’ve argued that you have to offer people something for their money so we offered little things like a badge. And people— Nurses love wearing a badge. Midwives love wearing badges so that did it. Then I set up the first of the newsletters from the state Association “Midwifery Matters” and I tried for ages to get people to do it and no one would. That’s— Sometimes I did it because no one else would do it and so I set up that and it’s come quite a newsletter. 40 page newsletter we send out to our members but I had a belief, yes, I did have mission then. And likewise with the National Journal. I set up a prototype… Oh, not a prototype but a possibility. And got some printed and took it off to a conference and then some other people took that on and that’s grown into a referee Journal but I did have missions that there was something needed to be offered. If you’re asking people for increasing amounts of money you have to offer them something in a service.

Interviewer: Yes.

PH: Newsletter and a Journal became popular so people joined the organisation to be able to get that and they— They’re really very different. The Newsletter is more a chatty format of what’s happening in New South Wales. The Journal is academic papers.

Interviewer: Do you think that the need for Journals, a need for associations, organisations, it’s not… Is it more than setting standards? Is it to do with a sense of professionalism as it’s a career?

PH: Yes, yes of course—

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: It’s a professional growth. We had a great need for something that was Australian. Not just British or American, Canadian or whatever. We had a need for articles about or by Australian midwives. Australian midwifery. What was happening out here. We needed to know that. We needed to know what’s on, so that was another point. And we needed, in this enormous country, we needed to know what was happening all around. So that we needed to compar— Like we went to that Adelaide ‘79 meeting. And one of the papers, talked about beanbags or spoke about beanbags and suddenly every labour ward in Australia seemed to have a beanbag because “What you’ve got, we must have” and so that’s really fairly powerful stuff. And so, everyone was wanting to find out “What are you doing about birth centres?” “What are you doing about early discharge programs?” “What are you doing about…?” And so, what was happening in little isolated areas, then had a national focus.

Interviewer: Yes.

PH: And people became interested in Australian midwifery, telling the world, that we had a pro— What our programs were. So we started… There’s that 30 that went to Lausanne, I think there were… They said 300 in Oslo that we had just recently. Australian midwives are going. People want— And you asked me before about why the papers. People wouldn’t give them, back in the ‘70s. They were— Oh, they weren’t good enough. Oh, they didn’t have anything to say…

Interviewer: Yes. Personal assessments of themselves. Yes. A typical female.

PH: And now there’s no problem. There’s too many of them. Right now they’re also at university so they want to preach their Masters or Doctoral thesis. Now we’ve got 10— We’ve probably got two people, three people with doctorates now. I mean we had no one before. We’ve got maybe 10 doing their doctorates at the moment. And some of those in Midwifery. Need for more and more education, partly is from economic, financial so they can get better positions but we’ve got 70 doing their Masters or whatever, you know, we’ve got all those things. It was almost as though someone needed to show them what and how. Now, I didn’t always dream up the idea. But I— Maybe I am guilty of showing them, that an ordinary dog’s body can give a paper at one of these conferences. We don’t have to just sit down and listen to doctors do them all the time. We can talk about what our profession is about. And yes I did have promoting our profession to ourselves. And so that’s where, you know, it went on from there.

Interviewer: The Journals, the organisations, just to leapfrog a bit, in the ‘70s education’s moving into the institutions, the colleges. What in the ‘80s it becomes degree courses in the universities. Are the organisations, state and national, are the journals, the conferences, are they still relevant in this new educational environment?

PH: Sure. Sure. Nursing, in the early ‘80s went over when Brereton thought it would be cheaper to train nurses in universities. Midwifery, maybe late ‘80s, it started, early ‘90s. Have not— The organisations supported that but are really just serving their members. They’re not really— Oh… They speak to people at— No, if they perceive a wrong. You know, like all associations will. The journals and newsletters are a communication of Australian activities. Whereas everything else that comes in here is overseas, or Australian nursing. So people are now writing books on Australian midwifery. Not just history, you know, but clinical issues. They’re starting to do that so… But the others were ways of people gradually developing a communication system, Australia-wide, of what’s happening.

Interviewer: Yeah so they’re relevant. Yes.

PH: And they’re very relevant, still, and will be for a while. We need more journals. We need a research… People whose midwifery research is published. They have trouble in competing with nursing. It’s just been a bit hard to get up and go along that line but I mean that’s where we need to go.

Interviewer: I’d like to go back to 1981 which is where I interrupted you some time go.

PH: Oh, it’s OK.

Interviewer: You’ve sold enough lamingtons and the conference is about to happen [indiscernible].

PH: Yes. OK. Well… The conference was in ’84. ’81, we… We were awarded it and we had ’81 to ’84 to get ready. OK. It is an international gathering of midwives, to have a three-day conference around Council meetings of the international organisation who meet the Council. One representative from every member country who meet once every three years to talk about difficult financial situations. They’d had trouble getting their money. That— They were reliant on very small bickies from incapacitation fees and profits from conferences. But as I said, the ’81 conference had a big deficit. They’d had trouble getting their money out of Switzerland and Jerusalem. You know, they really were struggling in a cupboard for an office and things. So, it was a sharing. I’m not sure… Personally not sure, that any conference is too much about the papers that are given, but lots about the contacts that are made. Coffee chats. The dinner chats. All those sorts of things. I don’t care whether that’s state, national or international, that’s where I think… But you do get some ideas like the beanbags and whatever I was talking about. And so, we had this conference that we worked our guts out to make financial. I was the Treasurer. And I think that’s where I got some of the extra respect for the OAM. Or that’s what Gen— The Governor said when he award— “Oh, you’re the lady with the money” and I thought “Gee! I thought I’ve done a lot of other things” but anyway. There we were. We really were careful with every penny we spent and I was a little bit dictatorial about it. As to, you know, people get a satchel and they get some inclusions and what we put it in and whether we could afford it and where we got some money and those sorts of things. Victoria were exceptionally careful that the quality of the papers were good. Lots of European, Americans have rellies out here so it was quite good to come out. We had 1,500 people attend the conference. We had an opening ceremony in the Opera House Concert Theatre, at sunset, on a Sunday. Lots of press organised. But it was the S— Father’s Day Massacre Sunday so all the… [laughs] What a bad day. But it was beautiful. And that seemed to set a tone. That went superbly. There they were. We’ve got photos of the sun setting behind the Harbour Bridge and midwives dressed for that opening ceremony in their national dress and they are beautiful and they talked and… We really had a gathering, of people. The rest of the time was spent between the Hilton Hotel and the Sydney Town Hall. And it was just great. It was a financial success. All the states had been gathering contingency funds. Didn’t have to give them because we had money. We were able to give the international body far more than we were liable for. The money that was over, it took a while, but we were able to set up a scholarship fund. The money in the contingency fund in the state, New South Wales set up a scholarship fund there. The people, on that international forum that were there, still talk about it. We had lots of goodwill and… Don’t ask me any of the papers.

Interviewer: [laughs] [indiscernible] it was.

PH: It’s interesting isn’t it. We had a delightful representative from WA, a Judith Davis. She was giving a paper in the Town Hall. We had these beautiful floral decorations and one of those on a big stand. And she’s just introducing her paper… And suddenly from the other side of the stage, there’s a bit of movement with one of the flowers. And then, it gradually fell and went over and she stood there and looked and she said “Well… What about that?” She said “I was anxious about this paper and I asked my friends in Perth to send warm fuzzies to me at 9 o’clock. They’ve sent them to the wrong side of the stage”. [laughs] And the place went into hysterics. The Japanese came out in grand numbers. You know we just really had a great time. That was just wonderful sort of… Opening up and she gave a brilliant paper but I mean that was just brilliant. We had some social occasions that just went off. She organised another one where it was the President’s Dinner. They decided everyone would sing a national song or something and— All the representatives. And they couldn’t get… There was one representative from Lebanon and one from Israel or something and they shook hands while everyone’s crying and… Just wonderful. Gathering. Of camaraderie. Of hail-fellow-well-met. Of— I’m always comfortable in those international midwifery organisations. There’s lots of people, much my size. I think maybe big people are attracted to Midwifery or something. They’re not all fat. And they… It was just great. Tha—

Interviewer: And so the social aspect of it is your strongest recollection of the [indiscernible]?

PH: No, the financial aspect was my… The success.

Interviewer: Pamela, the associations, the various conferences, did they have a political function? Was there a feed back to governments or to political bodies?

PH: Yes and no. If we look at state conferences, there tends to be a sharing of clinical knowledge. What’s going on within the profession. And there’s sometimes a chance to involve a political push. And that isn’t necessarily from the conference, however, that is now the big organisation that we have here, of the Midwives’ Association. Protesting about changes or planned changes or foreseen changes. Promoting Midwifery as opposed to Nursing. Not getting Midwifery lost in the Nursing stream. Those sorts of things. Are they preparing midwives properly. Whether they are providing continuing education. So at a state level, the communication, the education programs does have a more practical nature. At national level, there has been, always, an attempt to keep politicians informed of needs, of changes, of problem areas. That might be in asking them to speak. And we did at one we had in Sydney last year and he didn’t turn up. It’s a sharing of experiences all ‘round. And is the government in South Australia trying to pull a swifty and can we protest as a national group. Because politicians listen to national groups, not to state groups, in general, and so we might be able to have some influence and I think we’ve made some changes there. At one stage we had a small meeting in Canberra to let them know we existed and we invited them to a… A social function and things with— We often got the heads of, the Humphries of the Canberra world. It was a promotional sort of situation. And also a discovery, learning thing, you know. Who are they? Who do we need to contact? And that makes contacts a little bit more able. Then they know you exist. Then they will ask you to be on whatever committee or a representative to be on whatever committee. And get the message that we don’t think we’re covered by Nursing always so we met… Certainly people who— Ministers for Health or those but there’s more than that, there’s education and funding. We have, but not with a conference as such, made protest about one of the sub— I can’t remember the group. That looked at Medicare-type funding because midwives can’t get any payment back under that and we’ve been fighting that issue for some time. At international level, then, if the conference is in Australia, Canada, there is a big push. There’s lots of publicity that will draw the attention. How successful that always is… British Columbia thought they’d got the legalisation of Midwifery practice in there, three years ago. That’s what was announced at the conference in this big deal but it hasn’t happened. It may happen but… There’s certainly, in the country where the conference is being held— Congress, they are, International… There is a lot of associated publicity and push that benefits the host country. But there’s also a communication with UNICEF and WHO and those sorts of bodies. And looking at what’s happening, what’s not happening and there is a lot of attempt to try and get representatives from Third World countries. The ICM is broken up into regions. We’ve got the Asian Pacific Region and it’s had a couple of brand changes but… We’ve been able to get a midwife sponsor— A midwife to some meetings, initially in Australia, from Vietna— Cambodia. Cambodia. Who has been able to go back and do great things. I mean, I talked about my teaching before but I gave a paper that I didn’t realise I had to give on change and change agents and things. Grabbed some stuff that was in the office on the way down to Melbourne to give it. So I gave a fairly ad-hoc sort of paper. But I obviously met this girl’s need who said “Oh! That was just great! It was just what I needed”. You know, I didn’t know I was going to influence her on that. And she’s been able to do big things in Cambodia and big things… She’s sort of now bordering on the international development… They’ve done much the same in African countries, other Asian— Getting India involved. So on an international level, what they’re trying to do is provide health— Help, assistance, advice. I spoke in Jakarta at one of those early Asian Pacific meetings. That got a lot of political talk for them. I don’t know whether we made big changes. It’s the haves and the have-nots as far as I could see in that part of Indonesia anyway. There are opportunities that a large group of people can bring to the attention, be it at state, you know, if you’re talking from King George or if you’re talking from the New South Wales Midwives’, the bigger group has more power. And if it’s an Australian group, then they have more power and people will listen to them. And it’s not always the politician you need to get the ear of, it’s sometimes the lower down the list.

Interviewer: The bureaucrats [indiscernible].

PH: That’s right. That’s right. And so that’s where I believe we’ve gone with that politically. I was only going to say getting them to hear our point of view.

Interviewer: The 1984… Congress or Conference?

PH: Congress.

Interviewer: Congress that was held here, did that have any lasting effects in the Australian context or in the New South Wales context?

PH: OK. What that did for us in Australia was publicise that we had a national organisation. Very soon after that we changed our name which brought about all sorts of changes I’ll talk about in a minute. But our membership, nationally, went from that 300 up to 3,000. It was letting people know there was, not only a national organisation but one that could conduct something that was respected, that was international, showed people opportunities. International Congress is very attractive to people for travelling, you know, a way, I guess, of getting a tax deduction but it also does allow them to see that other things are happening. So in Australia that one there, gave us some confidence, build an organisation into a much stronger one and I think because of contacts we made then. At that one. The change of the name, from the National Midwives’ Association and RANF Branch was something that I actually did suggest that we start to call ourselves a “College” like you have a College of General Practitioners. We had a College of Midwives. And that change was just astounding in the respect that people gave it. The National Midwives’ Association was nearly as upmarket as an Australian College of Midwives and they’d sit— They’re the same people doing the same thing but certainly they were a group to be thought about, considered, joined. Not just— I don’t mean joined ‘cause it’s really outside organisations. And a lot of that was doctors who start to say “Oh well, they’re…” “There’s something there.”

Interviewer: And what about— It’s a professional profile you’re talking about, isn’t it, that is raises [indiscernible].

PH: It’s an ima—

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: Yes, it’s just a… Yes, I s’pose it is. It’s an imagined importance.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] really. [laughs]

PH: Yes. Yeah. It was brilliant. Brilliant. Took us a while. We had to leave the RANF. As a subgroup. Which we did. That gave us then people asking for our opinion. That is, in itself can be a pain I mean some of those… Some people asked for legal advice, political advice, “What should I do?” “This is happening to our hospital”. “The Minister for Health wants to close down the Mid unit here or there. How can we handle that?” And so we had some of those to be addressed but people will respect it. And generally that’s good, it’s just a bit time consuming sometimes.

Interviewer: What about your personal and professional— Personal and professional life, at that point in 1984? You’d changed…

PH: I was the President of the Austra— The National Midwives’ Association, at that time, speaking from the, you know— Welcoming people in the front of the Opera House, etc. Margaret Peters, that person I met way back, was… She had a more senior position. She was the— I don’t know what we called her. Not coordinator— Something glamourous of the conference. But it was…

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: Yes. And has gone on to all sorts of worldwide developments. Really moved on. If someone’s moved, I mean she really… She really did. But, I was also the Treasurer, for that. And because it was profitable that I got some sort of pseudo respect becau— As I said to you when I got my medal from the Governor, which was one of the last duties that Sir David Martin performed, he was… Weeks before he died. He made a comment “Oh you’re the lady with the finance” and I thought “Oh, I’ve done a lot for Midwifery. I don’t know about the finance but…”. Money… I’d been the Treasurer of the state organisation, from about ’83. And I’ve really done a lot of the finances for them ever since. But to me that’s… The figures have to add up. Across and down and that’s how you do it. You know, that to me isn’t one of the hurdles that I find in sometimes giving another paper. But that’s just a… Doing another jigsaw or a crossword or whatever.

Interviewer: Well where does that come from? I presume it’s not a special qualification or is it just balancing the books —–

PH: No! No! No!

Interviewer: [indiscernible] taught you this [indiscernible] skill.

PH: That’s just… If you’ve got x amount of money in an account— This is where it started. If you’ve got x amount of money, not earning much interest, you put it in y. And I started challenging the Treasurer. And I’m talking about an organisation where we had small numbers. Then you did it. “Well maybe you’d like to be Treasurer?” And I thought “Oh well, if you open your mouth you’ve got to stand by it” sort of thing. And so it went on to this enormous organisation that’s cashflow of maybe quarter of a million dollars or something when then it was a $1,000 or something like that. But it was really a little— My brother and since then my niece are both accountants. My father had a facility for figures although he worked in, you know, sales capacity. My aunt has been Treasurer of this, that and the other. The Garden Society or whatever. And, you know—

Interviewer: It’s a family trait.

PH: On a whole range of things so it’s probably a family trait. Yes.

Interviewer: Watching the pennies.

PH: Wha— Yes, well, making sure, generally speaking, that people are looking after them and it’s one of my current frustrations is that people don’t give them their due respect. If they think “Oh we can buy this” or “We can’t buy that” or something else, “Have they put a budget out?” You know. “Do they know what they’re paying?” And generally I find people don’t. They’re cash [indiscernible].

Interviewer: Was it about this time that Crown Street closed and you moved to RPA?

PH: Yeah, see —–

Interviewer: Was that a big fight [indiscernible]?

PH: Oh, that was a bad time. ’83. It closed.

Interviewer: It closed [indiscernible].

PH: So ’82 and ’83, yes. Fighting, arguing… Disbelief. Trying to run education programs with dwindling clinical resources. Trying to keep sta— Maintain standards for students that were easy to let lapse. Tremendous support from the students in making it go. Joining with people. Really— Sort of understanding why but not accepting why. Marching—

Interviewer: [indiscernible] Why— What was the argument for closing and what was the contrary argument for keeping it open?

PH: OK, you had in Sydney, the Royal in Paddington and St Margaret’s on Burke Street and Crown Street, all in close proximity. We were the biggest but they needed to rationalise the number of beds. That I understood. I really thought at the time, that maybe they could have thought about St Margaret’s and Crown Street together but St Margaret’s was a Catholic hospital and they were busy closing the Martyr, at the time. The government could get their hands on some nice real estate by closing Crown Street, which they did. And the Royal had a benevolent society so they couldn’t get their hands on that. So I understood all of those really hard commercial decisions to make. King George, which was another one people pointed their fingers at, had all the support of Sydney University. It was on campus at PA. And I don’t like all that sort of politics but I can see all those decisions. They broke up something at Crown Street that they never, and won’t, no matter what they do… They break up a team, it never re-joins, in doing that. People who worked together. People who know and trust. Values. All those sorts of things. And then some abysmally rude, thoughtless, nasty practice on behalf of the politicians. I have little, if any respect for Brereton. Even though I know that Brereton, who was the Minister for Health at the time, was being pushed I’m sure by Wran or whoever it was, made nasty statements about the cleanliness and things of the hospital and so… Every one of the— Our cleaners would get ba— Really nastiness in doing it. Those decisions are never looked after well. However, at the same time, I have to wonder, when they’re trying to do the— A similar thing with other hospitals, whether anything succeeds. I mean I just feel sad, it’s something that’s died there, never to be replaced, all those sorts of things. I’m not sure that the government is really wise in backing off at the decis— The cold hard decisions it’s currently making. There isn’t enough money to pay for what everyone wants and the public aren’t really being faced with the practicalities. All the protests, we held— We marched on everywhere. Met up with people. All over the place. They didn’t want to hear us. They were far stronger. Labour party. We didn’t get any support though from the Liberal party or anyone else.

Interviewer: You raise an interesting issue there I… Just from my perception, this current argument about the shifting of resources to where the problem actually is. But the contrary argument was won by a push, it seemed to me, from needing coverage of nurses and doctors who wanted to stay put, and they won, to the detriment of the Outer West, the North and where the population is. Were there any such…?

PH: Oh there— One of the reasons that we lost the public and they won the public was it was “Beds for the West”. And people didn’t… People don’t know what they’re talking about, generally, they didn’t then, about what “Beds for the West” meant. I went to a meeting of all the unions, with Brereton, and we had a guy representing… He was a storeman packer and he was a not very well educated gentleman who said “We’ve got plenty of beds if it’s beds you want”. You know. [laughs] He didn’t understand that it was the funds to run the beds. And people had this vision of beds being pushed along Parramatta Road out to the West and they would open all this up and it is— It was a lot for people to come from Camden, Campbelltown to Crown Street. We had a very wide distribution. They had a good media campaigner who had some good stories that meant a lot to the people. But the beds didn’t really go out to the West. You might ask— Say that maybe some of these from… At Liverpool Hospital but I mean they’re really not opening those beds yet, you know, it’s…

Interviewer: And that’s 10 years ago.

PH: Yes.

Interviewer: This was supposed to be going to happen but—

PH: [indiscernible].

Interviewer: Yes of course. Brereton was publishing a line to soften the public up to the closure but what was the reality within the hospital? Was it, in some way technically deficient or did it need a lot of money spent on it?

PH: OK. The Hospital Board had spent a lot of money in, over the years, always had, in keeping the rooms well decorated, well serviced. They did have a problem with more stringent fire rules of what could or couldn’t be done. Nothing that was difficult. I believe they… They had a hospital that was popular with people. We still had the largest number of births. The people didn’t ch— Go to the hospitals they thought they would go to. I mean people make up their own mind, as to where they go. Doctors who had their— Some of the doctors had their careers destroyed if they’d been in it. They’d set up a practice in Bondi, they’re not going to get a position in Liverpool. Doctors all— Weren’t all given positions on the hospital staff in these new hospitals. The innovations with the neo-natal intensive care, the really little babies… There were doctors who gave up after that. That, really, the fight’s not worth it. There were people whose focus of their careers was lost. People who were distraught, by that— And that’s not going to be any different from the current ones or the past ones. I mean that’s what happens. I read an article in an American Journal, Nursing, on “The Death of a Hospital”. And there are fairly stringent things— There were fairly described things that happened. About the loneliness. The sort of isolation of the staff that worked there because if they defend them maybe their hospital will go too. The need to be a community and to meet together. And then that dwindles apart, you know. There was Granville, suddenly, had everyone doing mourning. There was no attempt, to help with the mourning. No identification from outside. And a feeling of a lot of the staff inside that they were health professionals, they should be able to deal with their own mourning. There— It’s not just a closing of a hospital. It’s a whole way— You have all the volunteers who’ve given money over the years who no longer give money because the government just does “A” and “B”. The money we had raised at Crown Street for facilities for nursing education and things that… As I gather, and I may be wrong, went over to PA and then suddenly got used for all sorts of PA uses. Well, it took them some years to find that money and there is now a biennial Crown Street Commemorative education set up going but there are people who really feel badly done by. People who put their shoulder to the wheel and swept those floors or emptied that garbage or cared for those women who established these careers. I sometimes wonder if the— Some of the complaints now are because the hospital’s dead and there’s no one there to fight it, sort of thing. And there’s no, sort of, real memorial about their— Brereton’s gone on to different things. He doesn’t give a damn and… And so it happens. But, I mean we’re not… That was my experience. We’re not the only ones. There’s lots of places where that happens and it’s really very difficult. I haven’t got an answer, for the problem because… Where once, the extent of the peoples’— Probably the Inner West, Campsie and, you know, P— Oh, I think they came. We had some support groups from Manly and things. But now it’s, you know, out almost to Napean and they’re wanting those things. Well, what… What is the answer? It’s… Britain haven’t solved it. America hasn’t solved it.

Interviewer: Is it—? Are you—? In your career, is that Crown Street experience a unique experience or had there been other occasions when they’ve been situations of confrontation perhaps between a midwife and the doctor, not in an individual ward situation but on a scale, say within a hospital or [indiscernible].

PH: Oh no, so…

Interviewer: Professional confrontation.

PH: An enormous pinnacle. We didn’t have any confrontation with the s— Any of the staff. We all worked, whether we thought we could succeed or not, in stopping the moves but we worked as one. We had this affection, this love, this drive for Crown Street. It all breaks up and I see some of them, still. And we had… We organised a Centenary celebration and we had quite a few people… I’ve forgotten how many— 100, 150 people at a gathering, in ’93. We put together a book about recollections of Crown Street but, I mean, like the death of a… A relative, a parent or something I mean you live on but that doesn’t mean to say you wouldn’t rather still have your parent alive, and healthy, and all those sorts of things.

Interviewer: I do understand that. I was thinking in terms of perhaps the ‘70s and the issue of the home birth and the differences that that created. The differences and debates that happened between the medical profession and the midwives and that are ongoing in fact. Home birthing. And similar. This Crown Street issue stands bigger and above all of that?

PH: Crown Street had initiated, followed, introduced many of the so-called alternative suggestions in management. It had a birth centre. It had increasing education programs, etc. And when we mentioned this— It had interpreters [indiscernible]. There was a lot of things going on that had… What Brereton says “Oh well, you’ve shown them it can be done. Everyone else can follow.” And so… There is a feeling of “Is it worth it?” “For how long are you going to do it?” You might want to look at a whole lot of Western Suburbs hospitals [??sounds like “a piece of flat ground” ??]… Canterbury has got no Maternity Unit at the moment and the staff… The staff there were brought to King George who didn’t have other arrangements. It’s not always a convenient answer. And— So that happened— That— I’m only likening that to what happened to some of the Crown Street staff. And the peo— The people don’t want them there, because they’re pushing them out of jobs. And so— This was an enormous pinnacle. And, I suppose there is a real desire for those people who faced all that and who fought together, who’ve got a camaraderie, even if they don’t meet so often, that it— Can it—? Can they stop it being forgotten? All that was done with so much good will. All of that… Donations. I mean they took— We had an annexe, Canonbury out on Darling Point. It’s just a park I think that Brereton opened in a s— Some super-duper boat bringing his children, I mean, nothing to do with Crown Street. It’s really… It’s on the end of Darling Point Road. You know, all of those sorts of things. There should be some memorial. Some gravestone. I don’t know what you’d call it. But it was an enormous pinnacle in my career. And the people I still meet with. To a point where, when, just this last week, someone was complaining about her… Her management when she surrendered her baby for adoption. “I want to go in there and defend Crown Street.” “I want her memory preserved.” “I don’t want these people saying “Oh well the hospital’s dead and we can fight for this money or whatever”.”


Click icon to listen to the audio, part 3


DATE: [unknown]


PH: Now, over the next little while, we gradually got branches in all the other states formed. Queensland came in. ACT came in. WA came in. It— The cyclone in Darwin so they were a little bit slower coming in and there were some hassles and then… And Tasmania came in. And so that was the National Midwives’ Association, of which I was President, whenever. I guess now I’ve got an interest. This is a re— Maybe a reason for being, you know, that I’m in this organisation and, yes, it made sense and all those. So yes, I did put my shoulder to the wheel to rear this child that we thought was right. And we had this, in Adelaide, I remember suggesting a couple of things that have come through. One that we could consider bidding to have an international conference in Sydney, in ’84. Everyone said that’s good. Here we are! Like, the cheek of, whoever. 40 people in NSW, 300 in this organisation wanting an international conference. And I reckon we did some financial developments in how we used any profits from conferences and things. I think we paid about $1 a member as a capacitation fee to this organisation. I mean it’s ’79. We now pay $55 a member. So that’s where we went. And we established to have biennial conferences and they’d move around the country, from state to state, so we had one in ’81 in Melbourne. ’83 in Canberra. But we went in ’81, to the ICM Congress in Brighton in England. The Centenary of The Royal College of Midwives. 40,000 pound deficit, in running the conference. Remember how few people we’ve got. 300 bloody people in Australia. Didn’t hesitate. No one else bid. And— Oh yes, everyone had a relative in Australia. They wanted to come out and we bid and we won. So there we are in 1981, two years old, are going to host an international conference. So, we had to establish ourselves. We weren’t incorporated. Our houses were on the line if we had this financial failure ‘cause you had big commitments in running an international conference.

Interviewer: You had to mortgage your houses?

PH: We didn’t have to mortgage them. We had to know that if we had a deficit, we had to find the money from somewhere. We didn’t have an organisation. So, we did all sorts of financial things like sausage sizzles and lamington drives and biscuit sales and chocolate sales and… We had all these contingency funds written all over the place. And we had Victoria organising the program and New South Wales organising… Oh, it became New South Wales, it was going to be. And we did some… All the hospitality sort of things and WA put together some history of the area and… Very basic sort of thing and South Aus— We all had a responsibility. Margaret Peters, that I mentioned I met before, she was now the President and I was the Vice President of the National Midwives’ Association and she would come up from Melbourne and we would manipulate how you could get fares and Qantas were useful in some fares because they became a carrier and all this sort of thing so… We proceeded. And so, again, to cut something that was very elaborate short, we had a grand conference that people still talk about.

Interviewer: Before you elaborate on this conference, I have to go back because while you were organising all these things, the two things occurring to me, you’re also teaching and you’ve become the Assistant Director of Nursing, haven’t you?

PH: I was—

Interviewer: You were still a nurse educator [indiscernible]?

PH: I was Nurse Educator at Crown Street in those times. I was Head of School after—

Interviewer: Oh, this happens [indiscernible].

PH: Oh! No, no, no, it isn’t. It was ’75 that I became Head of School so, yes, I was in charge of a school.

Interviewer: Yeah.

PH: I think I was also somewhere along the line on the Registration Board…

Interviewer: You’re very active. In other words you— The second part of my question is there’s two things you’re doing. You’re active in this school, to the point of running it. And you’re active in all these organisations…

PH: Implementing some developments in education—

Interviewer: You have to tell me exactly what you’re doing because you don’t get an OAM for running chook raffles and selling, you know…

PH: Oh no. Other people were doing that.

Interviewer: [laughs]

PH: [laughs] So…

Interviewer: Leading up to the conference, what’s— What are you doing that you…? What’s driving those activities? Was it the need for standards? Is it feeding back into your education as Head of School? Are you…?


Interviewer: Are you modifying the curriculum? What?

PH: Requests for public speaking, opportunities to comment on changes, what was happening, being an accepted speaker, on a number of platforms. Representing the Midwives’ Association therefor. Being elected to the Nurses Registration Board somewhere in the late ‘70s, I think. In Midwifery, marking exam papers, being President somewhere along the line of the New South Wales Midwives’ Association. Making contacts. Meeting people. I’m larger than life in size, you know, I don’t rea— And… So I’m seen. Known. Crown Street had a grand reputation so Head of School at Crown Street meant quite a lot of things. I’m arguing for some of the changes in my public speaking—

Interviewer: So you’re not a representative of the status quo? You’re an instrument of change as well?

PH: Yes. Yes.

Interviewer: What sort of change? What’s happening on the ground [indiscernible]?

PH: Acce— Acceptance of women’s right to choose. Preaching on unnecessary— A need for decline in unnecessary intervention. The interest in history of how we’ve come to here and where we could go, those sorts of fascinations. Having a lot of students at Crown Street who then become mini disciples. I don’t want to make it too strong as to whether they were but they all moved around the country and… So, I was known. I, also was able to direct people where to go, what to find out, who to ask about. So, I guess it was in part my role at Crown Street, was quite an important one. My role with the National Midwives’ Association increased that sort of awareness. The New South Wales and then the National one, I was known for meetings and things like that. And just a feeling. I’m an equal rights for women. I am not necessarily a bra-burning feminist. But somewhere an acknowledgement within myself that women have been badly done by, over the years, if they can’t get the same rates of pay for the same jobs or the same opportunities. Maybe, my brother needing to be guarantor by— At the bank, for a loan, and I was really having more ready cash available to me when I wanted to buy a unit. All of those things were happening in my life and so I— While I didn’t pursue any feminist trait, I certainly argued for equal rights for women and so, for women to have a choice, that made sense to me and I would have argued and supported that. I preached that to my students. I preached it if I was out in public speaking in any of those sorts of roles. My papers were often “This is how we got here” sort of history. “This is how it was in various periods in time.” “This is where we’re going.” “This is what we’ve achieved.” Those sorts of lines there.

Interviewer: Who’s the message to [indiscernible] public speaking and then your conference papers?

PH: Yeah… It—

Interviewer: But you’re not being selected because you [indiscernible].

PH: Oh, and maybe I s— Oh… Well, in part she was.

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: Yes. People have seen you.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]

PH: Oh, because I wasn’t abou— I was an OK educator and… Who’d know.

Interviewer: You’re Head of School…

PH: Yeah.

Interviewer: By, what, means. I mean not skulduggery, surely. It’s on merit [indiscernible].

PH: No, I had the right qualifications. I suspect I had a lot of people who liked me at the hospital, for whatever reason, who might have talked to the Director of Nursing— I don’t know— I find this difficult.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] Did you have to make an application? [indiscernible].

PH: Oh, yes, I did all those things.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]

PH: Oh, no, I… I wanted the position. And I—

Interviewer: You had to go for an interview? There were other [indiscernible]?

PH: Oh yes. Big interviews.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] the position?

PH: Sure, sure, sure, and I was selected. And I sometimes am not sure why because I had some difficulties working with the person who appointed me. And I’m not quite sure why she came to that decision, that was what prompted the other statements that I think I had an—

Interviewer: [indiscernible].

PH: A groundswell support for me, in that sort of line. But people respected what I had achieved even though I say I was in the right place at the right time. For a lot of those. I offered to do a paper early and then I would, you know, do some more papers. I don’t think if I was there today it would be the same route but I was there. And I made myself ready to avail myself of the opportunities that came. OK, if you’re going to go places, then you have to put in a bit of effort and so I suppose it’s what I did.

Interviewer: Doing what?

PH: Doing what?

Interviewer: I mean were there other people? Where there other women? Where there other midwives? Representatives? Who could go to the conferences? Who could make the speeches? Represent [indiscernible]?

PH: Yes, but I don’t think they did at that time.

Interviewer: You were ready to do it.

PH: I think they were reluctant. I was ready to do it. I was in the right place. At the right time. And ready, to try it on. To try something new.

Interviewer: And do you think you were saying what people wanted to hear? Not so much that you—

PH: Maybe.

Interviewer: Were fawning to them, but that you had, in your statements about…

PH: OK. Probably fairly forceful in a presentation. Sometimes a bit innovative in a presentation. Maybe I was saying things that they accepted. Maybe showing a strength, a leadership, maybe that is, that they could follow. Although I don’t know that I set out to do that. I think I was probably outspoken about some of the areas. Don’t know any more than that.

Interviewer: Mm.

PH: That’s where I was. Certainly then, seeing these things that I believe needed to be done. I sometimes used to think along the lines of Don Quixote and fighting windmills and having a trusty… Whatever his name is, coming along with me on the—

Interviewer: Sancho Panza?

PH: Yes. Wondering whether I was out there fighting causes. Enjoyed hearing—

Interviewer: [indiscernible]

PH: Well, there’s a lot of groups coming on outside. And I spoke to those too. I was involved with those. They were Parenting… PCA. Parenting Centres Australia. This is a time when the ABC used to have a Monday conference and these people would be up there and… Where— Oh, out at the Nimbi— Yes, I was also seen. I went up and… I ran programs all over the state so I was known. Now, part of that’s me, Pam Hayes, in the position of Head of School. But it’s also Crown Street. Well known hospital. That allowed me to be there. It may have been different if I’d been Timbuktu Hospital.

Interviewer: Yeah. Giving you credibility.

PH: Yes. And so then, I went up and ran continuing education programs, in the North Coast area. Then around the state, I’d go out and be asked to give papers. I used to think— Something that came through then, was I was reasonably early in trying to get an understanding of peoples’ sexuality. Even got reported in ’75 for showing a very minor film to a group of students. I mean we didn’t talk about sex and pregnancy in the mid ‘70s. And so I suppose I was trying to be innovative in the education process. And I… I remember introducing some things fighting for midwives by then. Again, like, I’m thinking they were badly done by, compared with nurses. Just as I thought women were badly done by compared with men.

Interviewer: Pamela, what’s happening in the state? What are you doing?

PH: OK. So, I guess, if someone hears you speaking, at a conference, and they enjoy hearing it, and some of my papers have been great fun and I’ve had goo— Influenced a great audience and some of them have been not so good. You know, I haven’t really got there. And it’s a little hard to pinpoint why. But then you’d be asked to go and speak somewhere else. But remembering I’m at Crown Street. People came down and asked me, about continuing education for midwives, up in the North Coast health region. That was one. Because of the problems with the communes. And home birth. And antagonism between the hospital and the home birth scene. So, then, they liked what they heard in my discussion and so I went up there.

Interviewer: So what are you saying? What are you saying? You’re talking to the general public? Are you talking to the midwives? [indiscernible]?

PH: I’m talking to a matron and somebody el— An educator, I think, up there. And they take me up to speak to the Head of the Maternity Unit in every hospital in that health region. And so I was… I had a brief to try and get them to look at alternatives. And I suppose I was supporting safe alternatives. And so that’s what I was doing. And getting them I think reasonably successfully. But I also went around in other… Someone spoke to me about going up to Darwin to help them set up their Midwifery education program. I had a number of qualifications. Midwifery representative on the Nurses’ Registration Board; Head of School of a respected hospital and teaching qualifications so I went up there and did that, in Darwin, in Alice Springs. People asked me out— Oh, the [?? sounds like “Coppleson” ??] Institute at Sydney University, asked me to go around. I’d forgotten about that. To speak as a midwife and this is closer to my clinical practice, Went ‘round all over which was a continuing education program. So sometimes I’m speaking to GPs, in a team who went around talking about current practices. Went down to Melbourne, talked to the College of Nursing about… I don’t know. Midwifery…, goodness knows, …in the 20th Century. I’ve just forgotten what I was talking about but I was talking about where we are, where we could be, what was being demanded, those sorts of things. And I guess I was feeling that I should be an advocate for Midwifery. Not necessarily the organisation but Midwifery. I, by now, had some sort of respect for the organisation and its possibilities of getting people to talk, to share, of moving, seeing possibilities and how we could go— Get there. And getting it out around the state and actually around the country so…

Interviewer: Was this a normal activity for a Head of School? Or was there something particular about the ‘70s that resulted in the generation of all this activity?

PH: Well back from Crown Street, this love who’d been a Head of School and the directed… Was asked to speak. She was a very eloquent, fun, directing, sort of speaker. And then a Jocelyn MacIntosh, who replaced her and preceded me. She was asked— I don’t think she was asked as a— Around quite as much but she was married. I was available. I didn’t have any home worries to be a problem. The ‘70s has also got all these big changes that had been occurring from the late ‘60s through. And big changes that were, you know, occurring and heading… Crown Street was being innovative in the… By 1980’s, setting up a birth centre. That attracted people to find out— Competitions between the hospitals. To be in the right place at the right time for funding. All the things that are going on now. Should it be St Vincent’s? Should it be St George? Should it be Manly? Should be it Mona Vale? All of those sort of things happening, were happening back there then. People that I had taught, people who’d heard me speaking, wanting to hear some of those things. But, my recall of all of that is me… Once I got over explaining what we did, in a clinical situation, wasn’t doing any research or anything like that, was talking about how we got where we were and what was being demanded and where sh— Could possibly go and how this was… Trying to make sense for people in all sorts of areas. I mean, that’s as I’ve seen what— The message I was delivering.

Interviewer: It was— It was historic, in a sense. It was—

PH: Yes. Yes.

Interviewer: Setting a context and giving the past, the present and the future.

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: Does this come… Have something to do with the fact that at Crown Street the fathers came in. You were mentioning earlier the fathers came into the birth—

PH: Yeah. Well that—

Interviewer: The delivery and the child was placed on the mother’s abdomen…

PH: Abdomen and all those things, yes.

Interviewer: Is this…? Is this the context you’re talking about? This was the change that was happening in [indiscernible]?

PH: No, I’d always talked about— Because I… At the age of, oh, 7 or 8, I wrote an essay for school on “When I Was Young”. [laughs] And I think— [laughs] And the st— The teachers went into hysterics at this little kid writing when she was young. A fascination from way back about what used to happen and how things had gone, you know. I don’t… I wasn’t fascinated with English History and who won what war and things. But social history, I’ve always been fascinated with through school. Social living conditions in French, but never the French language, if you know what I mean. So that… I guess it’s always been: Where it was? Why is it so? What used to happen? Where did it happen? Why did it—? You know. Why did changes happen? Why was what my grandmother experienced different to my mother’s? You know. How did it differ? Why haven’t we written down what we used to practice, those sorts of things. And maybe… Maybe I have engineered papers I’ve been asked to give around to have some of that— They— I think I gave a paper at that ’79 conference in Adelaide on the Australian child in the ‘80s because there was no one else around to give it. Remember I’m in the right place at the right time, ready to do it. But I remember doing it, quite a bit of history. I can also remember discovering and then preaching about the terrible mortality, morbidity statistics out of the Territory for the Aboriginal babies so… Little bit of social justice again is going along there.

Interviewer: [indiscernible] in some way try to differentiate from the Head of another large school. You’re the Head at this time point in time, of Crown Street’s. There’s a Head at RPA. Or Director of Nursing or— There are big school— Teaching schools where there’s a Head. Now, why isn’t that Head of midwifery or that Head of School, or was she, or whoev— He. Out there and giving all these speeches. In other words, why is it you that gets the OAM and not, you know, Beryl Smith or Oliver Smith or…?

PH: Yeah.


Click icon to listen to the audio, part 4


DATE: [unknown]


Interviewer: And with this being such a big pinnacle, your career subsequently— Your career subsequently at RPA…

PH: It was difficult.

Interviewer: It was a difficult transition?

PH: Yes. Yes. Not a lot of people wanted me. Because PA wasn’t the only place. In fact I think I put down three hospitals but no one wanted me. Because I was known to be outspoken and all those sorts of things. Yvonne Winter, who was the Director of Nursing knew me there. She said “Well, if you’ve got no—” You know. “If you would like to come to us, we would love to have you.” That was great. But I had a lot of emotional baggage to get rid of after Crown Street closed. And the position that I had there, I mean, they didn’t really want me in the School. I was used by some educators. I’ve got some anger about some of the things that happened from there. I was ready to give up basic Midwifery education. I’d been doing that since ‘6— You know, for nearly 15 years. I needed a new career direction. Continuing education and having to face continuing education of nurses, to feel that I had to promote myself, for my association, the past with PA, you know, to establish ground base. And also to learn of all the changes that had happened in nursing, really hadn’t happened in Midwifery. Was difficult. Everyone was great. People… No. Most people were great. I was able to maintain my salary scale and that’s always important. I was able to… I had to do some direction… Oh, out of Midwifery. Away from Midwifery but I didn’t lose my contact with Midwifery, in the continuing education. But I— I guess I wasn’t teaching Midwifery as I was teaching management or cardiac— CPR or updates or whatever. Some of those things were… And I felt accepted. And wanted. But I still had, even when I was writing the book about King George, some midwives on staff who were really very rude. Inappropriately rude about Crown Street and… We’d had the single girls, the drug addicts and things and people would say to me “Oh, well, when we had to accept the Crown Street patients it lowered the tone of the whole hospital”. That sort of really nastiness, you know. I don’t like all my colleagues. But anyway. There were others who were just great and helpful and… Went that direction but I— I— I sought to find some other… I mean I— I— I’ve not got any criticism of Prince Alfred as a whole. Of individuals within that whole. And a loss of… Of having a job but not necessarily one that… It challenged me. I won’t say it didn’t challenge me—


Interviewer: It’s Tape 3 Side 2. The job didn’t challenge you?

PH: OK, so the position there at PA, there were— No, it challenged me ‘cause I had to learn new things. I had to read up new things. I had to think about different directions. But it didn’t have always the Midwifery focus and didn’t excite me, I guess. Didn’t motivate me to go on. It was a job to be done.

Interviewer: Were y—? Was there another ave—? Outlet for Midwifery…?

PH: Oh, sure. So…

Interviewer: Interests. I mean did you continue and did the various state [indiscernible]?

PH: Oh, of course I did. I am President of the Australian College of Midwives, the Treasurer of the Congress in ’84. I took on the Treasurer of the New South Wales Association about ’84, ’85. I went up to Darwin somewhere in that early time to help them with their program. I was still going around speaking about Midwifery activities and the organisation. And the organisation grew and grew and grew so we were having this… To learn new ways of directing it, trying to get— And I’m— This is both state and national level. Trying to think about where we wanted to take this organisation that was growing. What to do about the funds, the finance, the… What were the aims, the goals. All of those sorts of things because we had had some success and we were now… I mean from— Once you’re standing on ground, on the basement level and you’re going up but now we could see which way to grow up, you know. Where you went. And so, yes, I was very involved in all those things. In ’83, ’84, the ’84 conference, we had assembled the “With Courage and Devotion” which the New South Wales Association published. That was a great excitement and looking at it. And that group continued to meet because as Crown Street had closed, an amount of material, I’m a great collector… I think I described to you before, a hunter-gatherer of artefacts and what have you and… So we gathered all sorts of things that no one else would want. I mean that was a difficult thing with Crown Street closing was the casting of the raiments, I like to say, at the foot of the cross, of the people coming in for their cut of what was left over from Crown Street. But we— There were some things that other people didn’t want. There were photographs and… Like I went up to the photographers’ and there were just a whole lot of negatives. Whole pile of negatives just thrown out for the garbage, to collect that sort of thing and to have a look and to do some printing of that afterwards. And so tha— That was a big focus for that time and, I guess in that early time, at Crown Street [?? perhaps Pam meant to say “PA” here ??] I had some time to be doing that sort of thinking, anyway, at PA, while I was working there. Then later on, I was involved, in ’90, preparing a history of King George, of meeting up with the historian of the nurses’ section, of the archivist from…

Interviewer: And with…


PH: It’s always fascinating of finding some other avenues and so Midwifery at King George. And, as I’d had an in— An attachment to King George, as a general trainee, back in the ‘50s that was exciting. And I was on the Executive of the Midwives’ Association, you know, looking after their funds. All the time, from that… Around ’83, ’84. So I was looking at what we could do with that money and what we could establish.

Interviewer: The closure of Crown Street also meant the closure of the hospital there. The School rather. The Midwifery School. Where did the education of midwives move to after that point?

PH: OK, well just to the hospitals already open. And the last of those hospital schools is just in the process of closing. The one at Paddington has a graduation any time. Eventually, about the ’90— Early ‘90s, it went into universities as Graduate Diploma in Midwifery. And then it’s… There’s Masters in Midwifery and there’s a number of avenues that are settling down, in that way.

Interviewer: Did you have any part in its move into the tertiary institution, into the university environment?

PH: No. I wouldn’t’ve opposed it. I would have spoken for it in some of our position statements. I might have designed one or two of those, for the Midwives’ Association but not personally. It was really a natural follow on of people doing what was initially a Diploma in Nursing and then became a Degree in Nursing. It was natural to give them a Midwifery opportunity in the universities. A little bit of university is bums on seats, sort of thing—

Interviewer: Yeah.

PH: You know, so that… They were looking at ways of providing con— Additional education, at that sort of level, in universities but… So the— The system changed. It suited the… It suited the government who has to provide… If you’ve got a student training in a hospital, they had to be… They were paid. And they had to be given x amount of time off, for their studies. Well if they’re a university student, they get, generally time that… While they’re working in the hospital, you know. A two-year part time Graduate Diploma, they don’t work in Midwifery in the first year, necessarily or often don’t. And in the second year they do but they’ll be paid for what they work. But their— They have to pay HECs fees and all those sorts of things. It’s a really different ball game to what the Hospital Certificate Program was.

Interviewer: Yes so they would have got the job, as undergraduates or whatever and [indiscernible]?

PH: Well they get— No, they get experience. They have to do the same sort of clinical experience and they get paid for that but they don’t get, as I understand it, they don’t get time off. Paid time off to study.

Interviewer: Are there substantial differences in the nature of the education, now, given that it’s no longer the apprenticeship system?

PH: That’s a real toss of the coin. The students that come in here to use our library facilities, are good, and bad, and mediocre in their interest in Midwifery. In their application to their studies, in what they’re doing. The ones that I meet out, if I go and lecture in the universities are the same. And we had good, bad and indifferent students in Midwifery in the hospital system. I— I sometimes question the education program they’re being provided with. But, I mean, I guess you could’ve done that about our hospital school ones too. You know, I think they are… Some of it is maybe better and some of it, who knows.

Interviewer: The quality of the nurse?

PH: Midwive—

Interviewer: Not very different?

PH: OK. The only thing that I would be anxious about, of the current preparation, is that they may have less clinical— You remember way back, one of the things that I was doing in my very early training was trying to get experience, trying to make decisions, on my own back. I’m not sure that the students are being allowed that time, and they almost need an intern, a resident sort of period. And the positions in Midwifery, as they’re cutting down the numbers of people who are paid to work in Midwifery, you know, they’re discharging people earlier and things. The positions in Midwifery at the moment are in the rural hospitals and the rural want experienced people but you don’t get an experienced midwife, out of a university program.

Interviewer: Aren’t they also expected to have more responsibility [indiscernible]?

PH: Well, to accept more responsibility and who’s going to give them that. Come on. This is something we do, discuss with the… Miss [indiscernible] and the Nursing Branch at the Department of Health. Who’s going to allow them to get that experience? The people who get paid to be in charge don’t want to step down while some newcomer gets the experience. It’s a— It’s a… One of those difficult decisions to be made. But… If… If the work of the midwife… I mean no— They will be allow— Have talked to, make observations and know right from wrong and when to call other people. To have some of the fine skills, to time a doctor’s arrival if you’re in a rural area or to determine that “Gee, this isn’t quite right”. Those skills are a bit hard learned. And that’s difficult to provide that experience, you know, we need a Jumbo jet simulator for the pilots. We need a woman who delivers, on the hour and provides different complications for them to have to make judgements about. It’s not really… No one wants their birth practiced on.

Interviewer: Are they doing the same job as they did 20, 30 years ago, when you [indiscernible]?

PH: Yeah. I there— There’s… Some— Some of the jobs they’re doing is better and some… Yes, there— There’s some—

Interviewer: Not the quality of the work Pam so much as the nature of it. Is it the same job still?

PH: Yeah. Yeah. No there is some… No. OK. There is a little bit more… Like there are midwives’ clinics and there are team midwifery projects. There’s more— Some more independence in some areas. There aren’t the women hospitalised for such long periods in the antenatal period. And they don’t spend a week to 10 days in the postnatal period in there, they tend to go home. But then that allows an early discharge, midwife to work more independently and, you know, I think it’s great. The work they do in the independent midwives, a very small number but they’re working a little bit more frequently than they were in the ‘50s. That’s… But that’s a sort of low proportion. The normal childbirth, which requires a midwife to assess wellbeing, to determine progress, to determine if there’s a deviation from the normal, those sorts of skills which, whether it’s in an antenatal or a labour or a postnatal, whether they’re… To provide some education programs for them. Those skills haven’t changed too much. If you look at some of the… Like no one had infertility management in  the ‘50s when I was training. None of that sort of existed. They are more likely, if they do something wrong to be sued. They are using more complex— I never thought of a patient suing me, when I trained unless I really did something that was wrong. You know, I dropped a baby or something I’d have been anxious about that but I mean… Whereas today, they are more likely to be challenged about the quality of their care. I believe there are less people, providing the care, and I think that is because, they’re dearer. We were students getting pittance. And now people demand salaries of a professional worker. And so they’re dearer. So, how does the government generally cope with that? Well it provides less of them. So, they’re— They’re having to do more with less, I think.

Interviewer: What role does the Midwives’ Association play, now, with the new teaching?

PH: Midwives’ Association in the ‘90s is dramatically different to what it was before that, in that we ran out of room in our spare bedrooms, our car boots. We had to have some sort of headquarters because we had grown. We had grown from an organisation with 40, 50, 60 people up into one that had 1,000, 1,100. And so, we needed to provide some sort of a position which could be at the end of a phone for people. We couldn’t accept that our employers would allow us to spend all day on the phone to people. So in 1991, we found some premises in Ultimo that seemed to allow people from the North, from Newcastle, people up from the South, people in from the West, to meet in a fairly central spot. And having these headquarters and someone to act in an Executive role. What were they to do? What services would they provide? ‘Cause it’s a bit expensive to do that. Car boots are much cheaper but… [laughs] So, we moved into the premises in Ultimo and gradually bought some furniture and acquired some skills. And so the services that we can now offer that are different to the ones we offered before, is advice to colleagues, member colleagues but we’re not really that fussed about that they’re members or not. If they’re a midwife and they’re in need of some sort of advice. So the questions come in here from midwives about “What should I do?” “This is happening to me.” “This is the difficulty I’m in.” These are sometimes legal sort of problems. They need some direction. And so we’ve got an opportunity to do that. We’ve got an opportunity for them to do a little bit more research by trying to establish a specialised library. Journal and text library which people can access if they can’t get the same material elsewhere. We do get quite a number of questions and enquiries from people. Where to train. Who to contact overseas. What can— Where can they find out about… Have you got material— One of the things that our library is able to do is usually give conference papers which sometimes is giving what is current at the time and not published in a Journal or anywhere else. And so there are some papers that are fairly frequently asked for or done like that. We can, sometimes, be a point where people will question about “This is going on and I don’t think it’s right. What can we do about that?” And so it’s a sorting out house as to where to go. It provides a meeting place for the Executive who meet once a month but as small sub-committees will meet here. And so they’ve got a location and then everyone generally knows where it is. And it has almost run out of space, you know, it’s almost an area… But what we discovered before if you have a space with a lot of people you have to worry about are there enough toilets in the vicinity, what about the car parks, all those sort of things. And so it’s… It’s worked well over the last five years that it’s been open. We were unable to get a midwife to replace me and so at the moment we have a secretary who’s great. Working the same parttime. What I found is that we had enough money to pay me parttime but I’ve more or less been working fulltime over the past five years since setting up the area ‘cause I was interested and wanted to, I guess, I mean no one demanded this. It’s really hard to know what you want to do. We join up members, we send them out their membership packages, we organise for their newsletters to be sent out, we liaise with the other branches in other states, we conduct all those sorts of things that I rejected so many years ago where the procedure of a meeting— The procedural meetings and things. But we are at the end of a telephone. One of the things that I always tried to do at the end of a telephone, be it a patient who’s wanting, or a relative who’s wanting advice or a midwife who’s needing s— Is to provide an attachment which they could call in if they needed to. “I’m here. Don’t hesitate to ring”. I occasionally give them my number at home if I think they’re really stressed on the other end of the phone because I think that… I don’t often hear that second call unless— I sometimes do— And the calls. You can’t believe the calls. So their addressing what to do about a professional person ‘cause you can’t expect a secretary to be able to answer complex problems.

Interviewer: That was the thought that was actually occurring to me, how complex the questions must be. I mean given the instances recently of some of what you’ve cited, I mean, legal suits and things like that. What do you do when somebody rings in for that sort of advice and they’re about to be sued for something?

PH: OK. At the moment, Claudia who’s the secretary, will put— Try and get the caller on to someone ‘cause they really don’t want to ring back in three or four days or wait for a call from someone ‘cause they’re stressed at the moment. If she has a fair idea that I’m at home she might put the call through to me “Can you deal with this?” or “Can you ring these people back?” Or she’ll try with one of the others. But all the others are volunteers and all the others have fulltime jobs in a hospital and aren’t in a position. The caller I happened to have this morning which was a midwife who’s got a legal situation pending and wasn’t sure what we could offer. Was to be able to say “Look these are the things that I think you can do”. “These are what you need to consider.” “This is what we can do.” We can’t provide them a lawyer to take them through 6 weeks of court hearings or anything. But we can give them, even something simple like someone to go to court with them but we can also tell them these are the— Your avenues to get some assistance. These are calls where I happen to be in the office and this woman started with about how much insurance midwives— Independent midwives have and are suing them. And that was a matter of really trying to calm her down and find out what the problem was. And she was the grandmother of the baby, the mother of the girl giving birth to the baby. And the daughter was really rejected her by turning the phone off the hook. She didn’t want her. And there was this distressed grandmother crying her eyes out up in the Blue Mountains, not knowing what to do. And it was a matter of talking to her. Just letting her hear that someone had an opinion on the subject. Nothing really had gone wrong but she didn’t think the girl should have had the baby in the hospital but the girl didn’t want Mum telling her what to do, sort of thing. It was, you know, one of those. So in the long run she said “Alright I’ve stopped crying now and I think I can go and do some of my gardening”, you know. Which, is sorting out someone’s problem and I… My home phone number happens to be in some pregnancy advice book that I can’t get it— I can’t find it to get it out of but… 11 o’clock the other night I had a phone call at home and, half awake and half asleep answered it and it was girl who just discovered she was pregnant— So home pregnancy test which was a big change to what happened before. Had had a caesarean section 21 months ago and I think she thought her uterus would rupture instantly and what should she do. And it was matter of really letting her talk and listening to her so… I am able to give her some of that medical advice, to point her where to… To go if… And supp— Or the others to tell her what their chances are in that. I mean, nicely, where to go, you know…

Interviewer: [laughs]

PH: [laughs] And tell her what opportunities they can get some additional help from.

Interviewer: Is it your perception Pam that the life of the midwives is becoming more complex and that it might be difficult. Might be more difficult for these sorts of legal complications or …?

PH: Well as the midwife fights for acceptance of her role, acceptance that she has a place, her fighting with the doctors, and that seems to be going up and down. A few years ago we were fighting with the physios over who ran pre— Prenatal education classes. Whether it was the people who did exercises or the people who taught mother— The providing of care, the clinical skills they need in the situation, it’s more complex in that they’ve got more to do with less resources. Not that they’ve changed their role too much but they have to care for greater numbers of acute patients and if you’re going to send home afterwards, all the people who are well enough to care for them with minor supervision at home, the ones that are left behind are all going to be the ones who’ve had a difficult delivery or who aren’t well, the numbers of staff left in the labour ward to care for them and if you’re going to have more profoundly… Like we’re keeping little babies alive from earlier times. It’s going to be more complex care. I think they accept the complexity of the care. They’re well prepared for all the complexity of the care. They want a bit more security about their role. Rather than to think they’re going to close this hospital down in five minutes. And they don’t want to have to think that every blink of an eye may be sued. Liable… Liability acceptance of their role can loom overhead a bit I mean the girl that I spoke to this morning said “I haven’t done “A” since this case came up because I’m anxious about what people…”. Until they determine what the responsibilities are. The midwives are generally competent, capable, down to earth people. There are some with more sophisticated roles than others. There are some who really want to be a mother hen, you know, to let someone come under their wing. They don’t need some of the outside pressures that ex— Occur today.

Interviewer: I’m wondering whether it might have been better to leave it as a caring hobby that the neighbour undertook.

PH: [laughs] Yes. You didn’t sue the neighbour and wonder what the neighbour did. I’d love to know because I’ve got a lovely little story from a mother who… Who got a neighbour in. The woman who came in, I don’t think she was— The midwife was busy with another delivery and so they got the next door neighbour and she sat out by the fire with Dad, having a grand old gossip and she said “I think the baby’s coming”. “Well I’ve just got to finish this story love”, you know. [laugh] So you don’t really think that they did all that much in that and sometimes it was getting the other children out of the way or doing a bit of washing or something like that but… She wouldn’t have been held responsible for the observations. They wouldn’t’ve had some of the equipment to do that. They wouldn’t have known what was right and wrong. They’d just what experience had told them. Those early, early midwives in Australia who weren’t on the job and they came out on the early fleets, really could only learn from… In supporting, caring. Like that’s what a lot of people when they’re not well, not just people having babies but they want someone there to be there and to talk to them and listen to them and provide them with succour.

Interviewer: Yes that’s a big change, isn’t it, in the profession like have you seen in your car— Change in the expectation from the clients, as it were, or the patient [indiscernible]?

PH: Oh, sure. Sure. Well, they throw it all up and down. I mean they were patients when I started to train. They’re more often clients today but the couples do have more demands on their provider of care than they did in the past. Some people would allow you… There used to be an expression “Cut of their head and sew it on the other way around and they wouldn’t complain”. There are some people who would never complain and think you were wonderful. But there isn’t that, quite that amount of assurance today. And people, seem, because they’re having limited numbers in their family and they’re very planned families, they want one boy, one girl, in that order, preferably. Don’t have it the other way around. They want a child who’s going to top the HSC. Tough that they mightn’t have ever going to do that and sometimes if they don’t get what they expect, the Adonis of the world, the person who’s going to win an Olympic medal, then they get very critical and we’re in a sue mentality world. The first thing you ask if someone has an accident “Was it your fault?” You know, “Can you sue someone?” “Can you get some money out of this?” And sometimes that happens if you lose a baby and babies have been stillborn forever. If you have a less than brilliant outcome to the pregnan— Some people will say “I wasn’t happy”. “I was frightened.” “People didn’t meet my needs.” And so, that can be a real difference [indiscernible]. I felt really good ‘cause I felt most people liked me. Appreciated me, you know, in my training days. My work days.

Interviewer: Would you say there was a big difference between those early days and the last days, in the wards. I’m feeling that dealing with people, there was a big change in the attitudes and expectations.

PH: OK. In my experience, I was only seeing the beginning of husband and family involvement, taking away from the aura that was put on the person giving them care. I only saw the beginning of that. I think it’s different to today. Some of them get that. I mean people still love working in a labour ward. Why? You know it can be all sorts of threats to it depending on where you’re working. To me, watching that baby arrive, watching the change in the mother as she accepts her baby, watching that love that pours out from the husband when the woman gives baby, would make me still work in that area.

Interviewer: Pam, overview time. I wonder what your impressions are of these 40-odd years and the changes that have occurred. Things that have happened to you.

PH: A career where you thought of doing little else but to nurse, which coincidentally got into Midwifery which has brought you profound satisfaction, opportunities that you never dreamt about. Honours, that you never dreamt about. It gave you an opportuni— It gave me an opportunity— I was talking to myself. It gave me an opportunity to feel well prepared for a Nursing and Midwifery career. Well educated, [indiscernible] of the day. Of opportunities to travel, to observe practices overseas. To talk to people from overseas and think about what they were doing. To really enjoy working at one hospital for 20 years’ duration which was just an enormous cloud when the hospital was closed by the government. Even if you sort of understood the theory behind the decision. And since then, to have felt generally appreciated. My inferiority complexes say that the appreciation is greater than the merit. However, if I, talking about it today, there have been quite a number of achievements and there— I have a joy of seeing people who’ve gone on to proceed, some of which I’ve been able to stimulate their thinking somewhere along the line. The changes in Midwifery. I haven’t got over the woman who said to me “I thought your eyes’d pop out” when she gave birth… My eyes never ceased being fascinated with— Well certainly normal childbirth. Some of the assisted deliveries can get a bit grotesque but to watch where there’s a happy outcome afterwards is just a joy to participate in, to be there when some people are having this grand experience in their life. And that might be having their first one or it might be having their 10th or 15th one. The practices have changed since the ‘50s when I was training. There is a lot more in Midwifery, I’ll leave Nursing alone. But in Midwifery the women are being given far more opportunities to express their feelings. Their opinions. Their desires. And a more likelihood of having that listened to. The childbirth is no more natural – in parenthesis – in the ‘90s, than it was in the ‘50s but it probably is safer, slightly, for the women, in morbidity anyway and mortality to a small degree. But it is for the baby. We… We save more babies to healthy childhood and adulthood than we were able to do in the past. There is far more family involvement and family orientation that I can’t perceive any of those things have— Being available or possible in the ‘50s that are available in the ‘90s. There are opportunities to help those people. I mean one big change is that— Of course we no longer have all the babies for adoption because bab— Girls are given chances to keep their baby for themselves. There’s more pressure on infertility. There are more ethical problems now being put forward of who can be helped, how they can be helped. The pill wasn’t thought of, wasn’t available, certainly when I trained and… It’s made— You know they have been big changes. The opportunity to more readily be able to give blood, to control some of the diseases that were terrible, to give better social conditions, they’re all far different now than they were in the past. I don’t know whether life’s better or worse for people because of these improvements. For the individual it might be. For the midwife, in her career, it’s hard. If I look at my career, I felt good about what I was expected to do. And able to do, in those early years. And I think midwives today are a little more challenged. I sure didn’t have the concern about the legal difficulties. The ethical difficulties. I never considered arguing with the doctors about who had control over the birth process and surely that’s the woman anyway. There are profound changes and there are no changes all in one which is almost a stupid statement but I mean it’s, in part, generally babies still arrive through the vagina, as they did in the ‘50s. Sure there are more interventions. Some of which have just been a godsend, over the years, that weren’t available then. Woman probably are a little healthier now setting out in pregnancy and you don’t have the woman having big numbers unless they really want them. You know there are all those sorts of changes. What worries me in some of this is OK, one of the changes is that we send people home early. Some of those women didn’t mind staying in hospital, being pampered, having people come to visit them, provide them with flowers, take away some of the drudgery from them. And while I would argue that early discharge allows women not to die from clots in their legs or whatever they got from not moving around. On the other hand I think they’re thrown in, back into the workforce, very early. There’s not always the support. Where once the neighbour was likely to be at home next door when they went home, or the mother available. It’s likely that the neighbour’s out at work, the mother may well be out at work too today. And so that some of those stresses— My mother had a milkman who called, a baker who called, a greengrocer who called, a… Etc. And so those women now have to get themselves, sometimes quite large distances, with young families, to do the shopping, in a supermarket, which might be bright and shiny and clear and all that but also needs the shopping carried home and all of those sorts of things not just delivered in a box at home. So that the women are expected to get up and go to the baby health clinic almost before they feel… You know, some of them. Some of them think this is good. I also know that the government hasn’t got bottomless pits of money or I’m… I believe that. To be paying for people to have a rest in hospital… And, so you sometimes think “Well, gee…” Private hospitals are offering postnatal services for those that can afford it. So we’ve still got a… The rich get one of life’s opportunities and the poor get another. I’m not always sure whether the social pressures of smoking, drinking of my age or promiscuity haven’t been replaced by drug taking and drinking and smoking still and all those sorts of things which is right. Where the social pressures had some use or not I don’t know. So, I suppose if I sum up my career, I’m… I would do the same again. I believe that even if I didn’t make all the decisions that led to my career steps, they served me well and I feel well appreciated by my colleagues.

Interviewer: If I remember correctly you said that it was the 20 years prior to ’90, ’91, when the OAM was awarded, you thought those were the critical years. Is there a stand out initiative that you took, or an event or something that happened, that you feel would have brought you to peoples’ attention or that you feel particularly pleased about? A directive that might have, might not have happened had you not been there as [indiscernible]?

PH: OK. I chose 1970 to 1990 as the time that I started teaching, had my awareness of educational possibilities such as the College and what other people were thinking and joining of organisations. That was really what I was thinking, you know, of going down that route. Up until that time, I really didn’t think that I had done anything that was monstrously different to anyone else. I, again, believe I was in the right place at the right time but ready to pick up, perc— Something I perceived as should be happening. But at the same time I was in a time of great growth and development and challenge and change in the childbearing scene. Sometimes I think my contributions could be overly emphasised. I only think, and I’m not quite sure this is right but I only think that I perceived some things that could benefit Midwifery or childbirth and set about making opportunities for those to develop but other people might argue very well with me that maybe you should have left well eno— Enough alone. That was, I guess an enjoyment of opening the eyes of students, to development, changes, opportunities. What do I think? To what Midwifery could be, of giving them a pride, I think I— In that. And I extended that out into midwives around the state and to a degree around the country, in getting them to feel good about themselves, good about what they could do. To see what others could do. I s’pose I always was believing that I needed someone to point me in a direction, and if I could see the direction I was going that I could follow it and it a) would happen or b) would happen. And this I was trying to get other midwives around the place to have similar opportunities. I don’t know that I did anything outstanding. Maybe as the Governor said, I looked after the finances well. That, to me was almost a side issue. Wanting to care for the profession, I guess. Wanting to protect the midwifery profession from inroads from other professions, wanting their piece of the cake.

Interviewer: Is there anything that you perceive might have been substantially different had you not taken up your mission? Your role?

PH: Generally speaking no. Someone else would have stepped into my shoes and done it. But I guess because I was there. I think I helped midwives see what women were asking for. But I don’t know whether I’m a bit insular about that. I know I’ve tried to protect… Tried to keep us together. Tried to keep the midwives in dialogue so that we didn’t have independent midwives out there and hospital midwives over there or whether we didn’t have country here and rural there. That we were all talking. That we were all a congenial group, despite our differences. And I think I’m successful in those areas where I try. What I’m proud of was that in the ‘70s where I probably started to talk to large groups of midwives, that having again showed people that Joe Blow or Joan Blow, can do this. They can too. And then finding they all rushed in behind. It was taking the first step that… So that people suddenly volunteered to write papers, give papers, do further education, all sorts of things. But it might be taking a bit much on myself but I think that that might have had some opportunity but maybe it was going to happen anyway. I mean that’s where I run from.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]. Isn’t… You don’t know the answer.

PH: I kept my ears open to requests for change. I mean little things like will we let a mother see her still born baby after it was born. That was just not thought of— Considered. And I’m not saying that I started that. But I certainly had arguments in— With people about letting that happen and why. Of defending a case for it. And I don’t want to claim that as my initiative but I want to claim that I facilitated it being more widely practiced.

Interviewer: So you could go, wherever you went and say on your various consultancies and put a word in favour of that sort of practice.

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: And change would occur?

PH: Sure. Sure. One— [laughs] One of the things that… I don’t know a lot of people might clai— Was that I… In going up to the North Coast, I went up to the see the Byron Bay Hospital where the Matron there had really prettied up the areas with wallpaper and curtains— Curtains were what really I think I felt softened it. And so going around talking about wallpaper then suddenly seeing that wallpaper was important. That was really just making the delivery areas more homelike. So now there’s— Some of them have got clouds but— Painted on the ceiling or whatever. But I don’t know how anyone can say “I, made that happen”. I mean, discovery of penicillin or insulin, there’s people vying for who found that. Who made that happen? Were there other people listening, doing the same sort of work? I tend to believe that. I wouldn’t want— I know that at Crown Street I spoke to the Director of Nursing about birth centres which she’d never heard of because I saw them coming through the American Journals. But I’m sure she would think that she was the one who initiated the birth centre at Crown Street, if you know what I mean. And yet I recall some other stories. And it’s all in a perspective. I didn’t initiate them not doing some things. Not having to supply all the things that they brought into hospital when they came in in the ‘50s and ’60s. I didn’t initiate children being allowed to visit their mothers in hospital and not have to wait out on the other side of the street. That wasn’t something that I initiated but I sure smuggled the occasional baby in and supported the concept and argued in its defence.

Interviewer: Yes. Yes, that’s the role, isn’t it, that’s coming through that you’re actually taking the message around.

PH: That’s right.

Interviewer: Rather than it being your original idea or it might have been.

PH: Advocate. Advocacy of some changes, yes.

Interviewer: Pam, I’ve run out of questions. Is there anything…?

PH: [laughs]

Interviewer: That you’d like to have [indiscernible]?

PH: I feel that I’ve exposed the marrow of my bones. There’s not really anything other. All sorts of things that happened because we established a College of Midwives, nationally, but we have talked about that too.

Interviewer: [indiscernible]. You don’t want to let go ahead or you [indiscernible]?

PH: It’s time for them. Margaret Peters used to say, early, when we set up the national body. “If we can’t step out and let the others take it on to succeed, then we haven’t given it a good foundation.” And that’s where it is. But that’s not easy to step out of.