Repeating history? Public and community health nursing in Australia

Helen Keleher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the long history in Australia of public and community health nursing, it has never been regarded as important as hospital-based nursing. Notwithstanding the establishment of nursing organisations in the very early years of the 20th century and subsequent efforts to develop the nursing workforce, public and community health nursing has been neglected in terms of policy, research into public health nursing practice and workforce development. Even in the present day, public and community health nurses are marginalised from mainstream nursing interests and there is a lack of conceptualisation about the value of nursing's contribution to the primary health sector. This sector is experiencing a new wave of reforms driven by a combination of managerialism and systems change for improved responses to address health inequalities. Because there is not a strong institutionalised professional policy and support base for public and community health nurses, they are vulnerable in these reforms to increased domination and appropriation of their practice by stronger professional interests. There is an urgent need for professionally organised support from mainstream nursing to ensure that public and community health nurses are positioned as a unified force in efforts to advance the health of the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-265
Number of pages8
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Community health nursing
  • Health reform
  • Illness paradigm
  • Public health nursing
  • Public health paradigm

Cite this