Early 100th birthday present for inspirational Joan 

12 May 2022

A new scholarship, supporting established or emerging nurses and midwives to enhance their leadership skills, is honouring a pioneering South Australian, only days before her 100th birthday.

The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (SA Branch) scholarship has been named after Dr Joan Durdin AM, with the announcement celebrated at an International Nurses Day afternoon tea for the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Registered Nurse Association.

“I’m still getting used to it but I think it is a great honour,” Dr Durdin said.

“I can think of other cases, other people I have known who had a similar recognition but I never thought of aspiring to it myself.

“But I suppose gratitude and appreciation are feelings I would have about it and an appreciation of people who have seen fit to put my name forward.”

Dr Durdin has been an inspirational nurse throughout and beyond her extensive career in nursing, midwifery, and nurse education.

Born in Adelaide in 1922 and educated at the Methodist Ladies College, her distinguished career began when she completed her general nurse training in 1945 at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. 

She completed her midwifery course in Melbourne and then infant welfare at Torrens House in Adelaide. 

In 1949, Joan was awarded a Florence Nightingale Scholarship to study at the Royal College of Nursing in London. 

Upon her return to Adelaide, she was a Senior Sister Tutor at the Royal Adelaide Hospital from 1955 until 1964, when she left Australia for six years to teach nurses in Papua New Guinea in an Anglican Mission Hospital.

Returning to Adelaide again in 1972, Joan worked for many years in nurse education including in the development of a first basic nursing course at the tertiary level. In 1985 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for services to nursing education. 

The 99-year-old has been instrumental in the advancement of nurse education, with her passion for writing evident in the publication of They Became Nurses in 1991 and Eleven Thousand Nurses in 1999, along with numerous journal articles.

Dr Durdin joined the ANMF as a newly graduated nurse and has remained a member over the years.

“I still eagerly see the postman bringing my copy of the ANMF journals and they are still important reading material for me,” she said.

“All power to the ANMF, for the all the things that you do for nurses and for all the challenges you are required to meet.”

The ANMF (SA Branch) Dr Joan Durdin Scholarship will be an award of $20,000 to support an established or emerging nurse or midwifery leader to enhance their leadership skills.


The scholarships will be two awards of $10,000 to support an established or emerging nurse or midwifery leader to enhance their leadership skills.


  • Must demonstrate they are emerging or established leaders who are focused on meaningful change across the nursing and midwifery workforce
  • Must be a financial member of the ANMF (SA Branch) for a minimum of twelve months at the time of application
  • Have a minimum of three years’ experience relevant to their current role 
  • Must be an Australian citizen or permanent resident 
  • Must currently be employed in South Australia in either the public or private sector, and be employed in a permanent role, either full-time or part-time
  • Successful applicant(s) will need to submit a written report and an article for publication in the ANMF journal regarding the scholarship and the outcomes and must agree to present at our next professional conference if required

Applicants will be expected to provide a written statement of 500 words detailing their careers, their interest in leadership, and how the grant will help them achieve their goals

Applications will open later this year and successful applicants will be announced on International Nurses Day in 2023. 

“I have immense pleasure in thanking Joan for her distinguished career in nursing and we would like to say a very big 100th birthday to you,” ANMF (SA Branch) CEO/Secretary Adj Associate Professor Elizabeth Dabars said.