Founding female nurse recognised on WA Women’s Hall of Fame Roll of Honour

One of Silver Chain Group’s founding female pioneers has been inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame Roll of Honour.

Nurse Frances Cherry (1872-1941) was recognised on the Roll of Honour – created to formally acknowledge women who are no longer with us but whose efforts were critical to the state’s social and economic development – as part of WA’s International Women’s Day celebrations on 8 March.

Nurse Cherry joined Silver Chain as Perth’s District Nurse in 1908 and dedicated 33 years of service to the organisation. Under Nurse Cherry’s guidance, Silver Chain went from strength to strength. She was caring, kind and dedicated to the treatment of illness and disease prevention – values that Silver Chain staff continue to embody today. 

Chief Executive Officer Dale Fisher said the Roll of Honour induction was a great tribute to Nurse Cherry and an honour for Silver Chain Group.

“Women have always been great contributors to our success,” Ms Fisher said. “Today, 4,200 people work at Silver Chain Group across five states, 90 per cent of whom are women. The composition of our Group Executive reflects our workforce.”

Frances Cherry IWD 8 March 2021

Nurse Frances Cherry

Ms Fisher said Silver Chain Group had a proud history of female pioneers. In 1894 in Adelaide, the work of a single nurse led to the establishment of the precursor of Royal District Nursing Society (RDNS). 

By 1908, there were 14 branches of the RDNS (then known as the District Trained Nursing Society) across South Australia. These included remote areas such as Marree (650 km from Adelaide), where the nurses’ transport was often by camel. RDNS later merged with Silver Chain to form Silver Chain Group – a stronger, more sustainable organisation. 

Nurse Cherry faced similar geographic challenges in Western Australia. Despite this, she travelled thousands of kilometres by horse and cart to help those who needed her help most. She was a driving force behind the recruitment of the first Maternity Nurse in 1910 – a welcome relief to help combat WA’s high infant mortality rate. In 1911, Nurse Cherry made almost 1900 visits to Perth’s needy, including the aged and sick. 

“Our female pioneers, such as Nurse Cherry, would be so proud to know that our organisation has evolved to become a leader in its field, providing two million hours of care for more than 105,000 people around Australia,” Ms Fisher said.

“The findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care confirm the future of aged care is in the home. As a not-for-profit leading home care provider differentiated by quality, safety and integrity, we are committed to researching new and innovative ways to help our older citizens stay at home for life.”

The WA Women’s Hall of Fame was first established in 2011 in recognition of the Centenary of International Women’s Day held annually on 8th March.

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