TRANSCRIPTION OF INTERVIEW WITH PAM HAYES OAM
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.
Interviewer: Because you stayed in it.
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?
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—
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.
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?
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…
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.
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—
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.
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—?
Interviewer: The public patients.
PH: Very much so.
Interviewer: The public patients are left alone.
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?
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…
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.
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: 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.
[END OF PAM HAYES 1]