From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession


Not only was Sir Henry Parkes a Premier of NSW and one of the founders of Australian federation, he was also the man who invited nurse Lucy Osburn to come to Sydney Infirmary (now Sydney Hospital) in 1868, where she set up a Nightingale training school for nurses. So in one sense he was the instigator of the modern nursing profession in Australia.


Dr Georgina Willetts.

It’s fitting then that Parkes’ great-great-granddaughter Georgina Willetts is to deliver the 2015 Parkes Oration, in Tenterfield in the northwest of the state (inland from Lismore). Dr Willetts is currently co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Nursing at Monash University in Melbourne. She will talk on ‘From Nightingale nurses to a modern profession – the journey of nurses in Australia’. As a descendant of Parkes [he had 17 children!] as well as a distinguished nursing educator, Dr Willetts offers a unique perspective on the development and current role of our profession.

The Oration is a memorial to Parkes’ 1889 Tenterfield Oration, where he famously called for the states to combine together into an Australian nation – though this didn’t occur till 1901.

This event is free but RSVPs are recommended: call (02) 6736 6100 or email

parke17 Octs



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