Historical nursing responses to community health needs in Australia

Helen Keleher

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review


Overview Nurses have responded to the health needs of communities by becoming community-based providers of care and protection since the nursing and public health reforms of the nineteenth century. The terms 'community nurse' and 'district nurse' are commonly used in Australia, while the less familiar term 'public health nurse' was used in Australia and is still widely used in other countries. Nurses' work in community sectors historically has always been a product of the social and medical environments of the day, but a common theme is that nurses have developed models of practice to assist communities and individuals to remain healthy, and reduce the impact of threats to health on people's lives. This chapter provides a background to understanding how both district and early public health nurses were predecessors of contemporary community nurses. Objectives When you have read this chapter, you should be able to: identify paradigms that have guided the development of community nursing in Australia; understand a range of historical influences on the development of various types of community nursing; identify various forms of contemporary community health nursing.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunity Nursing Practice
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, skills and issues
EditorsWinsome St John, Helen Keleher
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000249088, 9781003115229
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020


  • District nursing
  • Hospital-centrism
  • Illness paradigm
  • Nursing organisations
  • Public health nursing in Australia
  • Public health paradigm

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