The City of Ballarat's longest-serving nurse retires after 32 years

Jeanette Dow has always told people she has the best job in the world.

After 32 years of seeing babies develop into loving children and nervous new parents bloom, the City of Ballarat’s longest-serving nurse retired yesterday.

Ms Dow became a maternal and child health nurse with the Borough of Sebastopol in 1982 and joined the City of Ballarat with the amalgamation.

After 10 years in hospitals she wanted to help families after they returned home. 

In three decades she estimates she has been part of the lives of hundreds of babies, if not more than a thousand.

“We see them up until they start school and the school nurse takes over,” Ms Dow said.

“I think what a wonderful present we’ve got to have real input into young families’ lives.”

The veteran has seen many changes to the industry as successive governments moved maternal and child health nursing from the health portfolio to community health and now education. 

Ms Dow said one of the biggest highlights was seeing the joy in families as they matured into their roles as new parents.

“I have seen two or three mums who were babies when I saw them 20 or 30 years ago and now I’m seeing them with their children.”

Under the free and universal council service, the nurses are there to assist people in the role of parenthood while observing and examining the health of their babies.

She has enjoyed forming her own bonds with families and colleagues along the way, and said there was a special camaraderie within the maternal nursing family.

“We’ve all got the same aim: to make strong families,” she said.

Celebrating retirement yesterday, Ms Dow said she would continue to volunteer in the community and hoped to spend more time pursing her passion for writing.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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