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| PANDDA History


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In 1983 with a move towards nurse education in Colleges of Advance Education and later Universities, a group of nurses came together to ensure the professional interest and standards of nurses supporting people with intellectual disability would be maintained. They formed a Working Party, at the suggestion of Meryl Caldwell-Smith AM, Chief Nursing Officer for the New South Wales Department of Health. Their task was to produce ‘exit competencies’ showcasing the skills, knowledge and expertise that nurses graduating from colleges and universities would need in order to support people with an intellectual disability. The Working Party was made up of Dr Chris Atkins PhD, Diana Dalley, Ross Fear, Elisabeth van Leeuwen, Bob Weaver OAM and Carol Welsh.


‘Meryl was looking out for us, when she suggested we needed to do something about nurse education. It took a year of work to produce the core elements/’exit competencies’ document, to ensure that the clinical skills of nurses would be maintained. (Bob Weaver OAM, 2014. Dawn to Dusk: Celebrating 200 Years of Service at Rydalmere).


From this undertaking, the Working Party saw a need for a professional organisation in order to have a greater advocacy voice, to represent and maintain the professional interest skills and knowledge of nurses caring for and supporting people with intellectual disability. 


In 1989 the Professional Association of Nurses in Developmental Disability Australia (PANDDA) was established, led by nurses originally from Rydalmere, Marsden Centre, Grosvenor and Riverside along with staff from other residential centres, and university academics. Many nurses originally from Rydalmere and Marsden were foundation members; some like Norma Cloonan, Catharine Hulst, Penny Kearney, Russell Jones, Chris Atkins and Bob Weaver remain active committee members today. One of the early committee members Chris Laurie came up with the original name for PANDDA, The Professional Association for Nurses working in Developmental Disability Areas. Later changed to The Professional Association of Nurses supporting people with Developmental Disability Australia. PANDDA Inc.


Through PANDDA, Nurses supporting people with a developmental disability were able to liaise with universities and government departments to ensure professional standards in developmental disability nursing were maintained, and the rights and self-determination of people with an intellectual disability were upheld and protected.


| History of Disability Nursing in Australia


In Australia developmental disability nursing can trace its history concurrently with legislative change, social and human rights movements, and from its early days along side that of mental health nursing.


During the 1960s the underpinning philosophies of care included: the medical model of care, disability, impairment and handicap, as classified by the World Health Organisation.


In 1969 Nurse Training commenced in (Mental Retardation) Developmental Disabilities, and a separate nurse register was established.


During the 1970s the underpinning philosophies of care included: Lifespan and holistic approach to client care, client rights, normalisation, least restrictive alternative, nursing care plans, behaviour modification and habilitation to name a few. During this decade the first group homes were also opened.


During the 1980s the underpinning philosophies of care included: social role valorisation, parent movements, individual service plans, individual programme plans, Intellectual Disability, nurse client relationships, partnerships, independence and advocacy. Nurse training moves to the Higher Education sector, the International year of Disabled Person was held, the Richmond Report was released, and the Disability Discrimination Act and Guardianship Act were enacted. In the latter 80s and early 90s Deinstitutionalisation began. PANDDA is formed, Challenging Behaviors, Barclay Report and Community Living. Client services were transferred from the Health portfolio to the Welfare portfolio.


During the 1990s underpinning philosophies of care included: Disability Service Act and Community Services Act were introduced. Other major reports and documents informing service delivery were the Commonwealth Disability Strategy, the Lachlan Report, a new department of Ageing and Disability was established, client focused outcomes, client centred services, consumers and community living. There was to be self-determination, decision-making, stakeholders and choices.

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PANDDA Standards for Nursing Practice (1st Edition 2002)

Standards for Developmental Disability Nursing

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