The Returned Sisters Memorial Grant

Dana Gray


Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Dana Gray (Image courtesy of Richard Barren)

Dana is employed as an Assistant Director of Nursing in the Office of the Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer, in the Department of Health Tasmania. Dana considers it a privilege to work in a role that contributes to strategic workforce policy to advance the capability and capacity of the Tasmanian nursing and midwifery workforce.

Receiving the Returned Sisters Memorial Grant has provided Dana with an opportunity to invest in her leadership growth through participation in the Australian College of Nursing Nurse Executive Leadership Program. The program curriculum is supporting Dana to develop her leadership acumen and the strategic mindset required to meet the future social, political, and economic challenges in health. Dana is making new professional connections with nurse executive leaders from other jurisdictions and is enjoying the opportunity to step out of her comfort zone.

Dana considers it a career highlight to be awarded the prestigious Returned Sisters Memorial Grant, and says, “The Returned Sisters of Tasmania were brave, courageous, and devoted nurses and receiving an award that honours their legacy is an absolute honour”.

Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Deborah Thompson (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Deborah Thompson


The Returned Sisters Memorial Grant provided Deborah Thompson with the opportunity to organise and run focus groups over a period of six months, as apart of her project: Patient and carer experiences with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma and myelodysplastic syndrome.

For patients, the meetings focused on how they managed and talked about/communicated their symptoms, particularly with health professionals and family, plus how their everyday life had been affected. For carers, the meetings focused on the difficulties and challenges of caring for someone living with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), as well as what was most rewarding.

The groups were extremely successful. Participants mostly spoke freely and were very open with their thoughts and feelings. Fatigue was already a known symptom among patients with RRMM and MDS and this was confirmed repeatedly by participants.

Holding these groups undoubtedly helped patients and carers by talking with one another. They also assisted Deborah, as a practitioner, to have a greater understanding of symptom burden.

Deborah’s Interim Report
Deborah’s Final Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Julie Porter & Dr Kathryn Marsden (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Julie Porter and Kathryn Marsden


Julie Porter and Kathryn Marsden enjoy the support of a collaborative and supportive team of Clinical Nurse Educators, employed by the Nurse Education and Research Unit in Hospitals South. Their role is to equip nurses to meet the complexities of today’s changing and challenging heath care environment.

Tasmanian nurses are facing important emotional stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic. For some, these stressors have caused or exacerbated burnout, depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Support programs relying on self-referral often fail because they require nurses to admit that they need help. Moreover, nurses tend to feel alone in their vulnerability and suffering; this feeling is reinforced by a culture of silence, which convinces nurses that others are successfully handling these stresses. Because of the nature of health care workplace stressors, nurses often want to confide in and receive support from peers rather than from mental health professionals, sharing emotional pain associated with their challenging work.  Emotional stressors are often occupational hazards rather than mental health problems.

This study will provide novel information of the health of Tasmanian nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and track their long-term mental health. Study data will help us understand which healthcare support services are accessed and their efficacy. It will show which groups of nurses are more vulnerable and at which stage healthcare resources are required, assisting the provision of evidence-based support services in the future. Data will assist with the design of future interventions, such as peer-support models thereby reducing the stigma associated with receiving support. Peer support also fosters a sense of camaraderie that is crucial to sustaining joy at work. Seeing that colleagues understand one’s emotional responses and have had similar experiences reduces the feelings of isolation and self-recrimination associated with distress. Information gathered from this study will improve the wellbeing of the nursing workforce.

Kathryn and Julie’s Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Samantha Sargent (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Samantha Sargent


Samantha Sargent is the Clinical Nurse Educator for the Acute Older Person’s Unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital. The Acute Older Person’s Unit provides multi-disciplinary care to people over the age of 65 with acute medical conditions, with a focus on complex conditions including Dementia, Delirium and Parkinson’s Disease. One of the most challenging areas of care that the unit supports people and their families with is the treatment and management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. As the Clinical Nurse Educator for the unit, Samantha is passionate about supporting nursing staff to build capacity to provide excellence in care for people with dementia.

The scholarship will provide Samantha with the opportunity to visit acute gerontology units in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. The units have been selected based on having established nursing models of care, specialised nursing career pathways and education programs in the area of acute care for people with dementia. Following the site visits, Samantha will develop a toolkit for nursing management of acute behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia and design a curriculum for clinical education pathways for nurses working with people with dementia in the acute care setting. The project also aims to develop a nursing model of care framework and to provide recommendations on environmental design to improve the physical environment on the Acute Older Person’s Unit.

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Kimbra Thomas & Anne Walsh (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Kimbra Thomas and Anne Walsh


Funding from Returned Sisters Memorial Grant in 2018 allowed 8 experienced Neonatal Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (NPICU) nurses to undertake FINE 2 (Family Integrated Neurodevelopmental Education), empowering them to develop leadership and innovation in neurodevelopmental care in NPICU. The FINE 2 graduates are subsequently leading the way in

  • Educating and supporting staff on the floor
  • Supportive ‘four handed care’
  • Understanding behavioural cues and how to respond to them
  • Partnering with parents in the care of their infants.

Without the grant the NPICU would not have been able to support the training which has proven to be invaluable in the unit.

Kimbra & Anne’s Report

Erin McLeod


Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Erin McLeod (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Receiving the Returned Sister’s Memorial Grant gave Erin the opportunity to pursue her professional goals in clinical based education and leadership development for nurses and midwives.

Erin said “The grant supported my application to explore and gain learnings from identified high achieving organisations within Australia and internationally that are recognised for leadership and professional and quality nursing and midwifery practice.”

With the grant Erin was able to travel to Banff, Canada and Baltimore, USA. She says “The experience of learning and working alongside and being immersed with the nurses and midwives in these identified organisations was one that inspired and has led to direct changes.”  Changes now implemented in THS South as a result of this include:

  • Design and implementation a mentoring program with THS South for Nurses and Midwives
  • Review of Transition to Practice education program/framework
  • Integration of leadership into education attributes that shape the development of education programs and outcomes.
Erin’s Full Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Emma Curnin (Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Emma Curnin


Receiving the Returned Sisters Memorial Grant enabled Emma to undertake a study tour to the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY). The tour gave her the opportunity to explore how and why public health nurses in the USA have such a remarkable leadership role in health care reform and policy to bridge health inequity, with the aim being to lay the foundations for a public health nursing network in Tasmania. Emma was able to spend time with and get to know key staff members at the VNSNY and associated centres. She learnt that being open to new ideas and being agile and innovative were key to success and subsequently realised her passion was for in-patient safety and quality healthcare. She says of the experience “This opportunity was instrumental in developing myself as a future leader in public health nursing. The personal growth and insights I obtained were profound.” She has since completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Quality Health Services.

Emma’s Full Report

Renae Grundy


Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Renae Grundy (Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Renae’s research and study focus as a Lung Cancer Nurse Specialist undertaking a Professional Doctorate in Health, was to improve the care that patients with lung cancer receive. The grant allowed her to continue and add to her research on this subject by purchasing group concept mapping software to gather data on patients and their carers. Group concept mapping allowed for easier participation by both patients and carers. Once ethics approval had been granted in 2019 the research and data collection is now underway. The study is designed to firmly place lung cancer patients and their carers at the centre of their nursing care and reflects recognition of the patient as the expert in their care needs.

Renae’s Full Report

Nell Espie Study Grant

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Abi Carter (Image courtesy of Richard Barren)

Abi Carter


Abi works as an Associate Nurse Unit Manager (ANUM) and Clinical Facilitator within the Acute Medical Unit (AMU), LGH. Her role as a Clinical Facilitator is the most rewarding position she has filled to date in her nursing career. Abi’s interest in student learning and development led her to enrol in the Master of Nursing (Clinical Teaching) through Avondale University in 2023. From incorporating educational theory into her teaching practice, to designing qualitative research proposals to make meaningful change to student experience, Abi’s postgraduate study is equipping her to develop the next generation of resilient nurses.

Abi’s postgraduate studies are groundwork to pursue her interest in research. She intends to undertake ethnographic research on the experiences of international students in acute care settings within Australia. Specifically, she intends this exploratory research will describe the experiences of Chinese-born student RNs undertaking placements within Australian settings, and generate discussion on how to promote international student development within the Australian healthcare system.

Abi was honoured to be a recipient of the Nell Espie Study Grant in 2023 and the grant has covered a semester of tuition fees. Abi is sincerely grateful to the Florence Nightingale Grants and Awards Committee for their financial support, interest in her professional goals, and ongoing commitment to the education and research goals of Tasmanian nurses. Abi encourages her peers to avail themselves to the generous support provided through the FNGA Committee.

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Kate Sumner (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Kate Sumner


Kate Sumner is currently an Associate Nurse Unit Manager in Cardiology/Cardiothoracic Inpatient Services at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

Since 2020, Kate has volunteered as a Nurse Educator and Community Engagement Liaison at the Women’s Health Education Network. This volunteer experience has ignited a passion and inspired Kate to pursue a career in continence education. Kate is currently completing the Essentials of Continence delivered by the Continence Foundations.

As the recipient of the Nell Espie Study Grant, Kate will be undertaking the Continence Management Program through the Australian College of Nursing.

Kate intends to use this study to develop her education skill set and on completion of the program, Kate hopes to commence facilitating workshops in the Tasmanian Community by June 2022. Kate will deliver preventative education and assist Tasmanian women of all ages who are living with incontinence, to give them hope and practical information to improve their lives.

Kate’s Full Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Helen Gulliver (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Helen Gulliver


The Nell Espie study grant supported her first year of her candidature for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Dementia Studies through the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre. The grant assisted Helen to dedicate time and resources necessary to complete a comprehensive literature review in 2020.

From this literature review, Helen was able to share findings to nursing and midwifery colleagues at The Tasmanian Nursing and Midwifery Conference – 2020 – Inspired for the Future in an oral presentation and poster presentation. Helen said, “involvement in this conference was very gratifying as it presented an opportunity to showcase my work to peers and to connect with colleagues with similar passions for learning and promoting positive change in the workplace”.

Helen added, “I am very thankful to have been a recipient of the Nell Espie Study Grant and encourage all nurses and midwives to apply for these grants and awards to assist in achievement of goals in education and research”.

Helen’s Full Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Sally Gregor (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Sally Gregor


The Nell Espie Study Grant allowed Sally Gregor to continue with her studies towards a Graduate Certificate of Counselling at UTAS. The two units studied in 2018 have provided her with counselling techniques she was able to use in her role as a midwife and childbirth educator at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

In her work since as a Registered Nurse at the Dover Residential Care Facility, further study has given her valuable information about how to approach sensitive issues with palliative patients, their relatives and friends.

Sally says ‘the course has enabled me to adjust to working a new and challenging field of nursing’ and she hopes to continue her studies in 2021.

Sally’s Full Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Dr Claire Morley (Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Claire Morley


The Nell Espie Study Grant enabled Claire to attend the 6th Annual Worldwide Nursing Conference and present a research paper as part of her PhD.

Her research saw her investigating the factors driving emergency department (ED) presentations in Tasmania. Her research identified a link between increased ED utilisation by the elderly in the South of Tasmania and patient-perceived access to care in the community for the management of chronic conditions.

Her attendance and presentation at the conference benefited her and her research in many ways. The presentation was very well received, with a number of international experts offering advice on how she could improve the next stages of her research project. She also made a number of connections with Australian and international nursing academics that she remains in contact with today.

Claire said: “Being a successful award recipient made a huge difference to me and my studies. Thank you.”

Claire’s Full Report.docx

The Leonie Sidebottom Study Grant

Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Gillian Course
(Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Gillian Course


Gillian Course is an Emergency Nurse at the Royal Hobart Hospital, a Lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Tasmania and a full-time PhD candidate at Menzies and the School of Medicine.

After graduating from nursing in 2001, Gill has worked as a nurse and midwife in hospitals around Australia and in Aboriginal communities, before finally calling Tasmania home more than 15 years ago. She is committed to clinical nursing and education and has teaching roles in Emergency and undergraduate nursing.  She is a longstanding Tasmanian branch committee member and education officer for the peak body of Emergency Nurses Australasia.

Gill completed a Masters of Public Health and subsequently collaborated with the University and the Royal Hobart Hospital to implement the international award-winning injury prevention program called the PARTY program, aimed at preventing alcohol-related youth trauma.

Gill’s PhD research combines her professional interest in Emergency Care and Public Health with her personal enjoyment of mountain biking. Her aim is to optimize timely emergency care for severe mountain bike trauma in Tasmania and reduce the health service impacts by determining how we can best address risk factors for injury.

Gill’s Report

Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Rupa Gurung
(Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Rupa Gurung


Rupa used the Leonie Sidebottom Study Grant to complete her Graduate Diploma of Nursing (Emergency Stream) through the University of Tasmania.

Completing her Graduate Diploma assisted in consolidating Rupa’s knowledge and skills in her professional specialty and motivated her to undertake a Master of Clinical Nursing (Emergency Stream), which she is looking forward to completing by the end of 2022.

Additionally, Rupa has also had an opportunity to undertake the Clinical Coach role in the Emergency Department in the Launceston General Hospital, which was one of her objectives prior to undertaking the Graduate Diploma of Nursing and applying for the Leonie Sidebottom Study Grant

Rupa’s Full Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Cindy Weatherburn (Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

Cindy Weatherburn


Cindy used the Leonie Sidebottom Study Grant to attend the Foundations of Qualitative Methodologies, Data Collection and Analysis course run by The Australian Consortium for Social & Political Research Inc.

The course consisted of a 5 day program that included practical sessions that focused on qualitative research styles and design, data collection techniques such as interviewing and conducting focus groups, data analysis and management, interpretation and display of data.

Cindy says “The knowledge and practical skills gained by attending this course have consolidated my knowledge in this area and have assisted me to conduct my research project on the Role of the Intensive Care Nurse in the Medical Emergency Team (MET).”

She added “I am grateful to the Committee for supporting me to undertake this course and look forward to completing my own research project by the end of 2020.”

Cindy’s Full Report

The Robyn Whitworth Study Grant

Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Deirdre McGowan (Image courtesy of Richard Barren)

Deirdre McGowan


Deirdre McGowan (RN, BN, BNurs(Hons) is a registered nurse with a background in general practice nursing and a PhD Candidate at Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania. Deirdre’s mixed-methods doctoral research will explore the potential for intensive primary care to reduce health service use and improve health outcomes for people with frequent hospital admissions in Northern Tasmania.

Her Excellency the Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania & Ailsa Jones (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrison)

Ailsa Jones


Ailsa has been a renal nurse for the last fifteen years, she completed university studies at the University of Tasmania and undertook an exchange with Malmo University in Sweden. Ailsa worked in intensive care at the North West Regional Hospital before transitioning to the renal unit. She has worked in haemodialysis, peritoneal dialysis and, for the last five years, in chronic kidney disease education.

Ailsa is passionate about improving outcomes for patients living with kidney disease on the North West coast and have been instrumental in setting up and running the renal supportive care program in conjunction with the Launceston General Hospital team, for patients who choose not to undertake dialysis. This role has brought Ailsa deep satisfaction, particularly working with patients and their families, often for many years, allowing her to build strong relationships. The provision of person centred care is always at the forefront of any clinical care that Ailsa provides.

Ailsa is currently studying a Masters in Nursing, specialising in Leadership in Practice, with the goal to become a nurse practitioner.

Ailsa’s Report

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Monique Johnson (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrison)

Monique Johnson


The Robyn Whitworth Study Grant made it possible for Monique to complete her Bachelor of Nursing with Professional Honours (Primary Health) in December 2020. A huge challenge as a single mother working full time in a management role in rural community nursing.

Monique is passionate about the holistic approach of primary health and as part of her study chose to focus on palliative care and wound care as these are core services offered in community nursing.

She says, “My health special interest project was to identify the barriers to community palliative care nursing in order to develop a set of guidelines as a strategy to improve the delivery of palliative care in the community. I have been able to use these guidelines in my practice to assist new graduate nurses and new community nurses when approaching palliative care.”

Monique is now looking forward to completing her Master of Clinical Nursing (Primary Health) in 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced her passion for the delivery of health care.

Monique’s Full Report

The Margaret Allwright Award
for Achievement in Nursing Practice

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Carolyn Salter (Image courtesy of Geoff Harrisson)

Carolyn Salter


The Margaret Allwright Award for Achievement in Nursing Practice allowed Carolyn to make a video celebrating and highlighting the achievement of all nurses and midwives during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Storytelling is recognised as a powerful medium used to emotionalise information and to touch people in a unique way. The authentic and heartfelt experiences of patients and clients was captured beautifully in the video Carolyn produced. Their genuine gratitude for the nurses and midwives who cared for them was overwhelming and humbling.

Carolyn said, “watching the finished product provided a huge swell of professional pride and I knew that all nurses and midwives needed this message now more than ever”.

You can view the short version here Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020 – YouTube or the full video here Year of the Nurse and Midwife – Extended version – 11 minutes duration – YouTube

Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner AC, Governor of Tasmania & Oncology Group (Image courtesy of Roger Lovell)

RHH Oncology Outpatient Service


The Oncology Outpatient Service at the Royal Hobart Hospital were recognised for their innovative work in caring for oncology patients by being awarded the Margaret Allwright Award for Achievement in Nursing Practice in 2017.

Since receiving the award the oncology service has presented findings from the Nurse Led Oncology Triage Service to several meetings. This included the oncology workforce at the Royal Hobart Hospital in June 2018 and following on in September an oral presentation at the International Council of Cancer Nurses Conference in New Zealand.

The award funds were shared between the two outpatient oncology units at the Royal Hobart Hospital and have contributed towards nursing staff development.

The oncology nurse triage system remains in place, with an average of ten calls being received from patients each day by the oncology nurse. The oncology nursing service are exploring options to develop and train a workforce which supports the long term sustainability of the oncology nurse triage model.

RHH Oncology Outpatient Service Full Report