A tireless worker for nurses

Lana Donaldson has been many things throughout her life: a mother, a grandmother, a nurse, and a unionist who supported nurses for over 40 years.

Lana Donaldson, a former president of the NSWNA, recently retired from nursing after a stellar professional career and a dedicated life as a trade unionist.

Lana was hospital-trained as a nurse from 1965 to 1969.

She took on night duty as a young working mother – the only way to work and look after her two children.

In those early years her husband worked in the construction industry six or seven days a week and Lana faced many challenges balancing her work and family responsibilities.

After graduation, Lana worked in the OR at Concord Hospital, and after her first child she was back to the wards as a part-timer. During the early 1970s Lana’s formative nursing experience included treating many Vietnam, Korean War and WWII veterans.

By the mid 1970s, Lana returned to the acute respiratory ward on night shift. This memory, she says was one of her most valuable as it was here that she learned the value of listening to strained respirations, the change of the tone and the depth when sleep was not possible.

Lana once remarked that she learnt the value of presence. That is, being seen and visible, when dealing with sick individuals who often expressed their fear of being alone.

An impressive commitment to her union

In the 1980s, following the harmonisation of the Australian Nursing Federation with the NSWNA (which meant that the Repatriation Hospitals could be included in the state organisation), Lana commenced an active participation within the NSWNA’s internal structure.

For many years Lana was Branch Secretary at Concord Hospital and held all positions within the local branch structure. She was employed as the CNC Cardiology and part of that role involved coordinating the Cardiac Rehabilitation Service.

Lana also worked at Concord Repatriation General Hospital as a Nurse Manager.

In 1988 Lana was first elected as an Annual Conference delegate. She continued to be a delegate for a decade from 1989 to 1998.

Lana served as a NSWNA Councillor from 1989 to 2003.

In 1994 she was elected Vice President after being on Council for five years and served in this position until 1998.

In October 1998, Lana became NSWNA State President, a position she would hold for five years until 2003.

During the period from 1997 to 2001, she was an ANF Delegate and served the ANF as its National President.

Throughout her time on Council and as NSWNA President, she worked with three General Secretaries: Patricia Staunton, Sandra Moait and Brett Holmes.

Lana remarked: ‘It is the above-the-call-of-duty activities that makes this union so great’.

Lana’s last clinical position was Clinical Manager, Respiratory and Critical Care Services SSWAHS.

A great nurse

Lana once wrote that ‘nursing leaders should demonstrate equity of access, due process, natural justice and concern for the individuals for whom they are responsible’.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes says Lana was a great nurse and a widely respected nurse manager.

‘As a specialist nurse, Lana supported the closer involvement of the professional specialist nursing associations in the NSWNA’s decision-making processes.’

‘She had boundless energy, juggling her personal and professional life with her NSWNA and ANF responsibilities and yet still managed to find time to act as the President of the Association of Clinical Nurse Consultants and the Treasurer of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Association.’

‘Her contribution to the NSWNA has been exceptional.’

Today Lana continues her involvement in the work of the association as a Life Member of the NSWNA.