The role and function of remote area nurses at Birdsville 1923-1953 Thesis Jeanette Klotz.pdf (5.4 MB)

The role and function of remote area nurses at Birdsville 1923-1953

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posted on 2023-07-28, 02:12 authored by Jeanette KlotzJeanette Klotz
This dissertation examines the way in which the role and function of remote area nurses (RANs) employed by the Australian Inland Mission (AIM), was established and developed during the years 1923 to 1953 at Birdsville in far south-west Queensland. In a geographically remote and technologically isolated environment, registered trained nurses in the absence of any other on-site medical or allied health personnel, provided the only formal health service to the people of Birdsville and the surrounding district. A unique feature of the AIM'S nursing service is that it was designed to meet the holistic health needs of isolated white people and apart from strictly clinical services, did not include the local indigenous population. In effect, the nurses' role and function developed within a framework of institutional racism. Free of the rigid hierarchical constraints and structures experienced during this time period by their metropolitan colleagues, the RANs at Birdsville developed their role and function within the broader context of this remote community's culture. In such a small community as Birdsville, community dynamics and politics based on the concepts of class, religion and ethnicity were considerably heightened. Within this environment, the ability of the nurses to effectively carry out their role and function for all of the community, was at times severely challenged and restricted. Essentially, the nurses shared with the community harsh climatic and living conditions which were exacerbated at times by the AIM'S inability to raise sufficient funds to adequately support their nursing staff. The nurses' professional isolation although apparent throughout the period under study, was most acute in the first few years prior to the installation of a pedal radio transceiver at Birdsville. During these early years their extended scope of clinical practice was established. However, it is demonstrated within the dissertation that even with improved communication and aviation technology, a high degree of autonomy in their clinical decision-making was maintained and incorporated into a culture of remote area nursing.



Central Queensland University

Additional Rights

I hereby grant to Central Queensland University or its agents the right to archive and to make available my thesis or dissertation in whole or in part through Central Queensland University’s Institutional Repository, ACQUIRE, in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all copyright, including the right to use future works (such as articles or books), all or part of this thesis or dissertation

Open Access

  • Yes

External Author Affiliations

School of Nursing and Health Studies;

Era Eligible

  • No


Dr Denis Cryle ; Dr Amy Zelmer

Thesis Type

  • Doctoral Thesis