In Our Own Right: Black Australian Nurses' Stories

Reviews of In Our Own Right

Review by: Webster, A, James Cook University Campus Newspaper - Bullsheet, 10 October 2005

One of my favourite ways to receive historical information is from the stories of people who lived in that time period and experienced those events. As the 23 people (there is a male nurse interviewed) range in age from 22 - 75, a large chunk of time is covered. 'In Our Own Right' is a great example of this genre as it is not only a series of personal histories but also a history of events that have shaped the Australian nation: assimilation policy, Stolen Children, segregation in hospitals and other forms of institutionalized racism. Currently indigenous nurses account for only 0.05% of Australian registered nurses. The struggle to be accepted by both patients and colleagues that these nurses experienced demonstrates why this statistic may be a long time changing.

There is much food for thought in this book. One of the recurring themes is the way in which nursing training opened up academic possibilities in general. Although a few had been good students, most had received poor marks at school or left school early, and were able to learn how to study through the regimental nature of nursing training. Many of these women went on to complete Bachelors in Nursing and some did Masters and PhDs in a variety of fields, despite being told as youngsters that they "weren't smart enough" to succeed at study. Nursing was an accessible profession because the training was primarily practical. As the trend is away from hospital-based training, I wonder what outcomes this will have on people who would make good nurses but are intimidated by the prospect of 3 years of tertiary study.

An essential text for all health professionals and academics and anyone else interested in the history of our health system.

More Reviews »

Dr Sally Goold OAM
Senior Australian of the Year 2006

Book Launch
By Peter Beattie MP
4 December 2005

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