Background: This study was the first phase of a larger study which explored the past, present and future of nursing in early parenting services in Australia.

Aim: The aim of this paper is to describe the history of nursing within an early parenting service in Western Australia (WA).

Methods: Triangulation of multiple data sources was used to summarise the nursing role over 120 years. The history was discovered through a document analysis of archives, including oral histories, organisational documents, focus groups, nurses’ diaries and interviews with nurses.

Findings: The nursing role and context is described over three time periods: 1890–1960; 1960–1990 and 1990–2010. Nursing during the 20th century was influenced by societal and policy changes, but the essence of nursing remained the same with a focus on providing support and education to parents during pregnancy and caring for their babies and young children. Nursing within early parenting up to the 1980s was reasonably static until the move from hospital-based training to the university sector, which was the turning point of change to a new era of professionalisation and ultimately working within an interdisciplinary team.

Conclusion: This description of nursing history within one early parenting service has provided insight into this specialist area of nursing.


nursing, history, Ngala, early parenting service, Western Australia


Permission granted by Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses Australia Inc [MCaFHNA] for use on ResearchOnline@ND.

© MCaFHNA 2019 (https://www.mcafhna.org.au/Journal.aspx).

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