Australia’s Controversial Matron: Gwen Burbidge and Nursing Reform

Gwen Burbidge Front Cover “With Australia’s Controversial Matron: Gwen Burbidge and Nursing Reform, Godden has given us a portrait of Burbidge that is compelling and relevant for all who would understand Australian nursing today.  Progressive, intelligent and committed, Gwen Burbidge is a nursing leader for all times.  In this fascinating biography Godden shows us a quintessential leader whose challenges are all too familiar.  This work is a major addition to nursing scholarship and an outstanding contribution to Australian nursing history.”  Professor Sioban Nelson, Dean of The Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada. A review in the Nursing History Review (v.22) by A/Professor Gerard Fealy (University College, Dublin) describes it as a ‘compelling study [which] … achieves all that a biography should …’.


“This is a compelling account of Gwen Burbidge, (1904-2000), one of the first Australian nurses to write a nursing textbook and a controversial nursing reformer. She improved nurses’ working, living and educational conditions and helped introduce visiting hours for infectious patients. She played a major role in implementing Manpower for nurses during World War II and ensuring that Nurses’ Aides were recognised and received training. Her professional life reflected the major struggles of nurses to receive appropriate education and to regulate their various roles. This fascinating biography of her life shows Gwen Burbidge as an exemplary leader, whose challenges are all too familiar to those who nurse today. The book can be regarded as an outstanding contribution to Australian nursing history.” — New South Wales College of Nursing (


ISBN  –  9781921375491,  1921375493 Publisher  – Burwood, NSW, Australia The College of Nursing Published  –  2011 Length  –  360 Pages Notes  –  Includes bibliographical references and index.


Available from the Australian College of Nursing at . Launch of Book The book was launched by the Governor-General on 9th September 2011 during a reception for The College of Nursing at Admiralty House, Sydney. Ms Bryce welcomed guests and congratulated author Dr Judith Godden for her work, describing it as an “outstanding contribution to Australian nursing history”. GovernorGeneral