St Vincent's Nurses Alumni

Welcome to the St Vincent’s Nurses Alumni website.

The Alumni was originally established by Ida O’Dwyer in 1923. It continues to partner with St Vincent’s Hospital to retain a connectedness amongst past nurses, present nurse employees and adjunct members to:

  • pursue activities that foster nursing excellence including sponsoring scholarships to advance education and practice; facilitate mentoring relationships; and support nursing research
  • provide social opportunities to foster friendships and networks with a focus on support for past and present nurse employees experiencing disadvantage
  • promote recruitment opportunities to past, present and potential future nurse employees
  • contribute to the St Vincent’s Hospital archives
  • promote the philosophy and values of the Sisters of Charity and the mission of St Vincent’s Hospital
  • to raise funds to support Alumni projects and activities highlighted above.

With members from near and far, the Alumni offers friendship, professional networking and opportunities to contribute to advancing nursing leadership and practice at St Vincent’s.

Events and activities

The Alumni Committee emails regular updates to members about upcoming events and items of interest. 

The SVNA Annual General Meeting will be held at 6pm, Monday 9 October 2023, on Level 3, Conference Room, Education and Learning Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital. All welcome.

RSVP by 4 October to

The Alumni Committee emails regular updates to members about upcoming events and items of interest.

SVNA 100th Anniversary Celebratory Lunch 

St Vincent’s Nurses Alumni is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and we will be honouring this momentous milestone on Friday 25 August 2023 at Park Hyatt, Melbourne. We will laugh the afternoon away with live entertainment, a delicious 2-course meal and drinks.

An early bird ticket price of $135 is now available until Friday 21st July when tickets will increase to $150. Please share this email with any friends who may like to join us.

Buy tickets via the St Vincent's Foundation website

If you have any enquiries, please email

Attention all January 1973 Preliminary Training School (PTS) colleagues and Graduates of 1973. Please read the Reunion Section for information about proposed 50-year reunions. 

The Mass for deceased SVHA members

The Alumni Annual Mass honouring our members and commemorating the lives of our colleagues who died in the past year, was held in the Australian Catholic University chapel on Saturday, March 25th. Father Michael Elligate AM was our celebrant, his homily reflected on the understanding and wisdom of women.

About fifty Alumni Members attended the event and enjoyed gathering after the Mass to share memories and catch up with news of friends and colleagues.The names of our nurses who died over the past year - Elizabeth Costello; Ruth Haley; Elizabeth Heath; Vivian Hobson; Carolyn Howard; Kath Kehoe; Mary Kelly; Valmai Johns; Patricia Jones; Anne Mikoljuna; Peg O'Brien; James O'Connell; Dominique Senior and Bernadette Tenni have been beautifully inscribed in the Memorial book by Dr Wendy Brennan. 
Further advice for events celebrating the inaugural meeting of St Vincent’s Hospital past nurses organised by Ida O’Dwyer in 1923 will follow. This meeting was the foundation of the now St Vincent’s Nurses Alumni.


Reunions provide a precious opportunity to catch up with friends and former colleagues, to share stories and network.

When organising events, including celebratory reunions consider booking tables at the SVNA annual luncheon. Please email the St Vincent's Nurses Alumni Committee at for further information. 

A reunion for colleagues who commenced training in the January 1973 PTS.

The fifty-year reunion for colleagues of the January 1973 PTS, will be held at the SVNA Luncheon, Park Hyatt Melbourne on Friday, 25 August 2023. Members of the 1973 PTS will have the opportunity to be seated together to share stories and, in some instances, reconnect. You are encouraged to join the Alumni at no cost, to ensure you are provided updates about this event. Please also reach out to former colleagues to signal this exciting event.

Please monitor this website for more information or email the SVNA at for updates specific to the 1973 PTS reunion. 


The Alumni raises funds to pursue activities that foster nursing excellence and leadership including sponsoring scholarships to advance education, practice, and support nursing research. There is no registration fee for Alumni membership.

The Alumni relies entirely on fundraising and donations.

Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. If you wish to make a financial contribution to support the Alumni’s work please complete the below form. It is important that you reference the donation to SVNA when you lodge the form.

Annually the Alumni is committed currently to providing:

  • $10,000 for Post Graduate scholarships
  • $2,000 for the Ida O’Dwyer Award.

Please consider supporting the Alumni in any way you can. With your support the Alumni can expand its work in advancing nursing leadership and practice.

President's Message

Greetings to you all,

In response to a request regarding the origin of our Alumni, I include this brief outline taken from our webpage

‘In 1923, St Vincent’s nurse Ida O Dwyer laid the foundations for who we are today. She became the first president of St Vincents Graduate Nurses Association (now the Alumni) in response to the needs of disadvantaged nurses at the time. The Association:

1) Endowed a St Vincent’s Hospital Nurses bed

2) Established an annual scholarship ‘gold badge’ award to a selected graduate nurse for her excellence in nursing and also a textbook to  encourage further learning.

3) Coordinated gatherings to bring nurses together in a social context. Many nurses were from the country and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to catch up with old friends to share life stories and SVH Memories.

Our Alumni continues to pursue this ideal today with the Ida O’Dwyer Award of $2,000 for nursing excellence awarded to a nurse on completion of their Graduate Nurse Program at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. The successful recipient exhibits the behaviours and patient care which mirror the ideals of Ida O’Dwyer.  The Alumni also grants an additional ten $1,000 scholarships annually. Social events are organised and support is offered to disadvantaged colleagues where possible.’

I am pleased to report that our membership continues to gently flourish following a concerted recruitment drive by our committee. Introductory visits to most of St Vincent’s public hospital campuses and St Vincent’s Private hospital have been made and we were warmly welcomed on each occasion. Our committee invites you to play a part in recruitment by promoting the Alumni to any potential new member. The criteria covers all Div 1 and Div 2 nurses employed by St Vincent’s (past and present). There is no joining fee, but fund-raising, pledges and other donations are integral to achieving the Alumni’s objectives. The registration form for Alumni membership is on our website  or on application to our email          

The Annual Mass to remember the lives of Members deceased during the past year and honoring our current members was celebrated on Saturday March 25th at the Australian Catholic University chapel. Click on the ‘EVENTS’ drop down box on our website for further information about this event.

Our annual luncheon at the Park Hyatt is being held on August 25th, a great opportunity to get together for those celebrating 50 years of either commencement or graduation. A ‘save the date’ email will be sent closer to booking time.

is anticipated that an SVNA Scholarship will be launched at an event later this year (watch this space!).

The focus of this SVNA scholarship is to offer support for SVH nurses across all specialties in order to broaden their professional knowledge through post graduate education in their particular area of practice.

Nurse education has changed dramatically over the past 40 years since the transition from apprentice style training to academic degrees. This shift in the realm of nursing education and move from hospital-based training has implications for recruitment of    new members for our Alumni.

Secondly, the increasing complexity in technology and need for rapid application of new knowledge challenges your committee who aim to fulfil the Alumni’s economic and social expectations.

In addition, we acknowledge that the effect of the Covid pandemic on our nurses - the continuing anxiety; emotional input; workplace stress; understaffing and exhaustion won’t go away soon and our support is still needed.          

We rely on you, our members, to support us in recruitment of new members, ideas for social activities and commitment to a strong, viable future for the Alumni.

’s time to sign off, but can I share this with you - your SVNA Committee continues to plan the Alumni’s future. We have an agreed understanding/definition of the Alumni. Who we are and what we want to achieve is reflected in our purpose, - it is mandatory to our success.

Your feedback is appreciated and encouraged.

Best wishes and stay well until our next chat.

Wishing you a joyous Easter,

Clare Dyer

President St Vincent's Nurses Alumni

Clare Dyer

Sharing our memories

Fancy a trip down memory lane? We all have stories that we can remember and share. If you would like to add your story or memories to this page, email

An extract is below from the handbook given to all new arrivals at the historical Preliminary Training School.

A Nurse must be:
Obedient and loyal to all rules, as the foundation of her work;
Active, yet quiet;
Methodical, reliable, careful, clean and neat;
Observant, intelligent and economical;
Capable of self-control, persevering gentleness, tact, sympathy and common sense;
Careful to pay attention to professional etiquette, remembering what is due to those in authority;
Careful in manner and attention to Visitors or Patients’ friends, a duty Nurses in the pressure of their work are apt to overlook;
Careful to wear her uniform with spotless cleanliness, neatness, and simplicity; hair tidy, and general bearing that of military smartness;
Careful to be always guarded in her behaviour towards Doctors and Students.

Join the Alumni

Catch up with friends and former colleagues, share news, enjoy annual events and reunions, and keep up with what’s happening at the hospital. The St Vincent’s Nurses Alumni Committee invites you to become a member and help the Alumni achieve its goals.

Membership is open to:

  • nursing graduates
  • enrolled and registered nurse employees (current and past) from St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne)
  • those invited by the St Vincent’s Nurses Alumni Committee to participate.


There is no joining fee.

To join, please email

Your name
Your email address
Mobile number
Year of graduation
Current or previous St Vincent’s employee
Any other information you wish to share