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The politics of nurse education in education in Australia 1961-1984

Henderson, Anthony R. (1988) The politics of nurse education in education in Australia 1961-1984. Masters by Coursework thesis, Murdoch University.

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This paper examines the political activities of nurses in Australia, within the context of interest group theory and, in particular, the work of Gamson (1968) and Zeigler and Peak (1972). It spans 1961 to 1984 and takes into consideration the dynamics of both the nursing profession and the political systems during that time. The specific issue dealt with is the transfer of nurse education, from traditional hospital based schools of nursing to tertiary institutions. This transition involved the co-ordination of a national campaign by nurses in an attempt to influence policy makers at both state and federal level.

The dissertation is an historical and political analysis which required this writer to study the documents of professional nursing organisations, parliamentary debates and the print media. Interviews were also conducted with some of the key people involved in the transfer. In order to validate the information, and ensure its reliability, multiple methods of triangulation were used.

From 1961 to 1984, nursing organisations progressed through a number of stages before finally emerging in 1977 as a fully-fledged pressure group. Until 1983, they were viewed by those in authority as 'alienated' and consequently were unable to achieve any of their goals satisfactorily. However, nurses correctly perceived the political system generally, as being ambivalent to their demands. Gamson terms such ambivalence "neutrality", and hypothesises that when a pressure group identifies neutrality in a political system, it is highly likely to take action. This proved to be the case with nurses. Although their campaign lasted seven long years, it proved ultimately to be fairly successful. However, as will be demonstrated, an 'authority' will only concede to the demands of a particular pressure group to the extent that a counter group is not disadvantaged.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Coursework)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University’s Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Smart, Don
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