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Pat Tarlinton 1912-2008.

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PAT TARLINTON worked for years, often behind the scenes, for the education, training and professional status of Australian nurses. This was only after she had nursed around the world, in war and peace, so she knew what nurses could and should do.

She and her colleagues were rewarded for their education work in 1973 when, following the recommendations of the 1970 Truskett committee, nurse education was transferred from hospitals to the tertiary sector. Patricia Annie Tarlinton was the fourth of the 12 children of James and Florence Tarlinton at "Woodburn", near Cobargo on the south coast. The family was descended from William Tarlinton, who first settled the Cobargo district in the 1830s and once owned all the land between the Brogo and Tuross rivers. Pat was sent to Cobargo Parish School then on to high school at Monte Sant' Angelo in Sydney.

After school, she started nursing training at St Vincent's Hospital. By the time World War II broke out she had progressed to sister and in 1940 she was one of the first to enlist in the RAAF Nursing Service.

Towards the end of the war she was selected for special training for a medical air evacuation unit. The unit's job was to fly into combat zones in transport planes converted to air ambulances and take wounded soldiers to hospitals or back to Australia.

The nurses became known as the "Flying Angels" for their hard work. At the end of the war, the unit was sent to evacuate prisoners of war from Changi Prison and prisoners from the Japanese camps in Sumatra, Malaya, Burma and other areas.

Tarlinton was the first Australian woman to enter Penang after the Japanese left, just behind two British officers who had been parachuted in. They were so impressed that a woman should arrive so close behind them that they presented her with their parachutes. She also served in Thailand, Sumatra and Morotai, in Indonesia.

After she was demobilised, she travelled for four years, working as a nursing sister in England and Scotland and seeing Europe and South America.

When Tarlinton returned to Sydney, she was offered a position as a teacher in St Vincent's newly established training school. She rose to become head tutor sister and worked tirelessly to improve the educational standards and status of the nurses under her care.

This work made her realise that nursing was a profession, and that it should be accorded that status. From her position she could influence and inspire a few hundred nursing trainees each year but she knew that she needed to change careers if she was to exert a wider influence.

She had been involved in the NSW College of Nursing (now part of the College of Nursing) since soon after it started in 1949, and served on its council for a number of years. In 1966, she took the position of executive secretary of the Australian Trained Nurses Association and the NSW branch of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, where she stayed for 10 years working on her vision of nationally accredited tertiary training for all nurses.

For a lifetime of contribution to the profession, Tarlinton was awarded an MBE in 1978.

Patricia Tarlinton did not marry but she was a much-loved aunt to her many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. "Auntie Pat" was an adviser, a mentor, a role model, a great listener, a sharp wit, a constructive but gentle critic and a great friend. She is survived by four of her sisters, Betty, Madge, Mary and Raechel.

This article is re-printed in the ANJ with the kind permission of the authors Mike Etheridge and Judy Tarlinton. The article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 1 March 2008.
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Title Annotation:OBITUARY
Author:Etheridge, Mike; Tarlinton, Judy
Publication:Australian Nursing Journal
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:623
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