Nurse, lawyer and fighter

Kathy Taylor
28 June 1953 – 19 July 2007

Kathy Taylor had two successful careers, one as a nurse and one as a lawyer hell-bent on serving the nursing profession she loved so much.

One of four daughters to Keith, a butcher, and his wife Norma and schooled at St John’s college in Auburn, Kathy subsequently followed her big sister into nursing at Bankstown Hospital.

After stints at Prince of Wales and Netherleigh Hospitals as a RN, Kathy completed her Associate Diploma in Nursing Education at Cumberland College and spent the next five years putting her education to good practice as a nurse educator at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH).

Kathy steadily moved up the ranks at RPA to Assistant DoN of Ongoing Education and later Acting DoN. At the same time, Kathy was studying part-time at the University of Technology, graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor of Laws (Honours).

It was pure determination that drove Kathy during this time because it was then that she was diagnosed with phaechromocytoma – the disease that was to fracture her career and define her life for many years to come.

Adversity was set aside as Kathy commenced her next career at the NSW Nurses Association, first as an Assistant Industrial Officer doing workers compensation and professional welfare and in 1993 as Industrial Officer.

With her extensive nursing background as a frontline nurse, educator and administrator, and a brand new law degree under her arm, Kathy was perfectly placed to make a big difference to the nursing profession and the union.

Her knack for the written word went well beyond submissions to courts and government. She was instrumental in rolling out a legal resources kit for nurses and spent a lot of time taking her law seminar series to nurses right across NSW.

Her delivery was succinct, informative and nurses usually sat goggle-eyed at her horror stories. They may not have always ‘got the law’ but they certainly ‘got the message’.

Getting the word out also meant writing for the Association’s magazine, The Lamp. Kicking off in 1992 with Workers Compensation, Kathy wrote 35 articles in all, covering a huge range of topics from restraint in residential aged care facilities to the Health Care Complaints Act.

Kathy would always find something to write about for the magazine that would impact on nursing practice. Her day-to-day work brought her many challenges and she was keen to keep the law firmly implanted in the hearts and minds of working nurses.

Her brilliant work at the Nurses’ Association was acknowledged in the late 90s when she was appointed as a Commissioner for the Legal Aid Commission.

In 1999, the doctors finally diagnosed the return of the phaeo and it was back with a vengeance. Resection and debulking of the tumours followed with extensive surgery to the spine, liver and femur.

Though retiring in 2002 from the Nurses’ Association because of her health (she was made a Life Member in 2005), Kathy was commissioned to write the online resources for the 5th edition Nursing and the Law and spent nine weeks labouring over every chapter to deliver the consummate tool for nurses.

Always at Kathy’s side was the love of her life, Sylvana. Her unyielding spirit and optimism through Kathy’s tough times were legendary. Together they chose to live very much in the present and every day they celebrated their 34 years together and their love for each other.

Julie Venamore