Dedicated to nursing and Indigenous health

Geoff Hartmann
30 July 1939 – 23 August 2007

Geoff Hartmann, Registered Psychiatric Nurse, unexpectedly passed away in August, on the evening of his last shift in a successful nursing career that spanned more than 40 years.

A memorial service was held at Rozelle Hospital followed by the funeral in Geoff’s hometown of Narrabri.

Geoff was born in Narrabri and was a proud member of the Kilimaroo tribe. It was always Geoff’s wish to be buried next to his mother for whom he expressed great love and respect. He attributed his completion of secondary schooling to her.

Given the considerable difficulties Indigenous people experienced at that time it is a testament to both Geoff and his mother that he not only finished his schooling but went on to gain nursing registration and later a degree in social science.

Geoff started his psychiatric nurse training in 1963 at the then named Parramatta Psychiatric Hospital. For most of his career he worked in the field of psychiatry and specialised in Aboriginal mental health.

Throughout his career Geoff maintained a strong advocacy for this marginalised group and always displayed a genuine positive regard for his clients.

As well as working in the large psychiatric institutions, Geoff worked in the correctional health system and rural community health. In all the positions he held Geoff became involved in educational and support programs for Aboriginal clients and their communities.

He supported school students, presented segments on local radio, wrote numerous articles for local newspapers and mentored students undertaking Aboriginal health studies. Geoff contributed to the first advanced diploma of health science program (Aboriginal mental health) conducted by the NSW Aboriginal Medical Service.

In February 2005 Geoff started work at the Clarence Valley Mental Health Service. He had fulfilled a dream of returning to the country to live on a farm where he showed a genuine affinity with his dogs and horses.

Aside from his wife, Denise, Geoff’s other great love was his football team the Broncos. He immensely enjoyed sledging other league tragics at every opportunity.

Geoff considered humour to be an important part of his working day and could be counted on to instigate or participate in any lively conversation. He was a treasure trove of mental health history over the past half century.

There was no greater proponent of the value of the mental health nurse in the multi disciplinary team. At the same time he was quite vociferous in promoting his firm belief that nurses are unrivalled in their all round mental health skills and ability.

Geoff’s colleagues and friends express our sincere sympathy to his lovely wife Denise. We are deeply saddened that after such a long fruitful working life of giving to others, Geoff did not have the opportunity to experience the retirement he so richly deserved.
By Acute Care Staff, Clarence Valley Mental Health Service