Women’s history beyond stereotypes

Friday, March 05, 2021 at 02:00 PM


Zoom Webinar
Melbourne, VIC 3000
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Event contact

Natasha Cantwell

Public Record Office Victoria and Her Place Women's Museum Australia present the online panel talk "Women’s history beyond stereotypes" as part of International Women's Day 2021. #ChoosetoChallenge

Tickets are free but registration is essential.

This year the focus is on nursing and midwifery, an acknowledgement of the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife in 2020, delayed by COVID-19. Penelope Lee, Her Place Board Director and co-curator of 'Unmasked: celebrating Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria and beyond' will be joined by curator Dr Madonna Grehan from The University of Melbourne, a nurse, midwife, and historian, and contributor Professor Odette Best from the University of Southern Queensland, a nurse and historian. They will discuss the surprising breadth and depth of this complex field of women’s history and work, reflected in the exhibition 'Unmasked' and how new interpretations can challenge stereotypical narratives of history.

'Unmasked: celebrating Nursing and Midwifery, Victoria and beyond' runs from 3 March - 1 April 2021 at Her Place Museum and features digital records from the collection of Public Record Office Victoria.


Odette Best is a woman of the Wakun clan of the Gorreng Gorreng, Boonthamurra, and Yugameh Nation. She is Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Southern Queensland. After training as a general nurse at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, Odette undertook clinical practice, then policy work and later moved into academia. One of Odette’s main research areas is Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who completed recognised training in nursing and/or midwifery before 1950.

Dr Madonna Grehan is an independent historian. She worked as a general nurse and midwife before moving into women’s health research. She completed a PhD in nursing and midwifery history at the University of Melbourne. Madonna is an interviewer for the National Library of Australia’s Oral History and Folklore Collection and immediate Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of the History of Medicine.

Penelope Lee is a museum professional, cultural producer, arts manager and artist who has worked across Melbourne’s cultural sector for over 25 years with a focus on community-engaged, interdisciplinary and inclusive arts, education and cultural programming. She is currently a Board Director and previously the General Manager at Her Place Women’s Museum Australia. Penelope has co-curated this exhibition with Madonna and Odette and, like them, is a qualified general and mental health nurse.

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The History Council of Victoria Incorporated (HCV) is the peak body for history in the Australian state of Victoria. Its vision is to connect Victorians with history and to inspire engagement with the past, their identity and the world today. The HCV champions the work of historians and the value of history. It recognises that history can be written about any place, any person, any period. The HCV advocates why history matters.

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The HCV was formed as an advisory body in 2001 and incorporated in 2003. It comprises representatives from cultural and educational institutions and heritage bodies; history teachers and curriculum advisors; academic and professional historians; and local, Indigenous, community and specialist history organisations.

As the peak body for history, the HCV has both ‘outward-looking’ roles (including advocacy and representation to government and the wider community, consultation, community education, and networking with allied interest groups) and ‘inward-looking’ roles (including member support, information dissemination, and networking between members).



The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342