Willetton resident’s life of caring honoured

Jane Butcher has won a prestigious Australian nursing award.
Jane Butcher has won a prestigious Australian nursing award.

A WILLETTON woman’s long-term contribution to primary health care nursing was acknowledged recently when she received a prestigious award.

Jane Butcher, who won the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association’s Rosemary Bryant Award for her 30-year career, is now receiving nursing care herself after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer nearly one year ago.

Mrs Butcher said she decided to be a nurse when she was 14 after working as a volunteer in an aged care facility.

“This was motivated originally to receive a badge as a Girl Guide but I stayed on as it seemed I was being useful,” she said.

In 1979, she began hospital-based training at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, where she made lifelong friends and met Michael, the man who would become her husband.

After completing her training, she and Michael, a GP, set up a solo GP practice in Kalbarri where they lived for 12-and-a-half years.

“I managed the practice and soon found myself doing ambulance escorts to Geraldton. I was also employed at the Silver Chain Bush Nursing Post where I learned such diverse roles as teaching over-55 exercise classes, immunisation, abseiling, X-rays, audiology, diabetes education, wound care, community visiting, rescue and resuscitation and palliative care,” she said.

After leaving Kalbarri in 1999, the Butchers moved to Perth to access resources for their youngest child, who has Asperger’s syndrome.

Mrs Butcher said she started work in a small general practice in Perth.

“Eventually I found myself the senior nurse by dint of having been there longest,” she said.

As well as working in general practice, she became interested and active in supporting general practice nurses, including improving pay rates, continuing professional development and recognition of the role.

She moved on to roles within the Divisions of General Practice/Medicare Locals and eventually became the state program manager for the nursing in general practice program, funded by the Commonwealth Government.

Most recently, Mrs Butcher was nurse liaison officer with WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA).

Mrs Butcher said she enjoyed nursing because it involved helping people.

“There are always sad things happening and there are always good things happening as well. If you can’t change something you just help people through it.”

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