ACORN History

Conference Committee 1977 with New Zealand representative, Brenda Miles (seated at left), Chairperson and New South Wales representative, Judith Cornell (seated centre), and Treasurer and Victorian representative, Mary Barry (seated at right).

Ten operating room nurses from five states attended the 1975 meeting.


New South Wales:



South Australia:



Judith Cornell

Rita Stahl

Colin Shipton

Lynette Stanley

Ann Swifte

Lyn Root

Marea Fennell

Mary Barry

Sister Mary Felix

Pauline Bennett


A number of operating room nurses from around Australia met in Melbourne at a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and Faculty of Anaesthetists seminar, ‘Safety measures in the operating theatre’. Considerable differences in policies, procedures and practices were apparent.


Mary Barry suggested a national operating room nurses conference and ten operating room nurses from around Australia met to discuss the possibility of organising it. A conference coordinating committee was formed, comprising one representative from each state present.


The coordinating committee met again and were joined by representatives from the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. New Zealand was also represented.


The inaugural Australasian Conference of Operating Room Nurses in Canberra was a resounding success. Delegates attended from all over Australia and from New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom and Malaysia. A unanimous decision was made to form a national organisation and state representatives formulated a constitution, financial guidelines and organisational format.


The first National Council meeting took place in Adelaide in February. Council meetings were set for every six months and the council term was for three years. The first official journal, ACORN News, was published in February.


The second national conference was held in Adelaide. New guidelines for operating room nursing practice, based on reviews of resolutions taken at the 1977 conference, were made available. This was the origin of the ACORN Standards for Perioperative Nursing in Australia.


ACORN News was amalgamated with The New South Wales journal, Forceps, and the Victorian journal, Snippets, to become a national journal, ACORN Journal, which was published in December.


ACORN became incorporated as a company limited by guarantee by the Australian Securities Commission. The six senior councillors became directors of the company and the president became company secretary as well as a director. The seven junior councillors became representatives of the company.


The national conference in Perth celebrated the 21st birthday of the Australian Confederation of Operating Room Nurses. The theme of this national conference was ‘21 years on – Growth, development and diversity’. Hereafter the national conference would be held every two years with a corresponding term of office for the ACORN council.


ACORN became a college – Australian College of Operating Room Nurses. The president and executive were elected from candidates currently serving on the board, rather than appointed by succession. The president was thus independent, rather than state based, and could give greater attention to national issues.


At the Annual General Meeting, members voted to change the College's name to Australian College of Perioperative Nurses while retaining the acronym ACORN.

ACORN was granted deductible gift recipient status by the the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).


The 18th ACORN conference was held concurrently with the 6th conference of the Asian Perioperative Nurses Association (ASIORNA) in Adelaide. The conference welcomed nurses and trade partners from all over Australia, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The acronym 'ACORN' was originally chosen to signify the Australasian Conference of Operating Room Nurses. There was forethought that if an organisation were to be formed it could be changed to the Australian Confederation of Operating Room Nurses.

The ACORN conference logo was designed by Jeanette Waterhouse (Cuttler) of The Geelong Hospital. Subsequently, a badge of the conference logo was manufactured and made available to members on payment of their membership fees to their state or territory organisation.

ACORN presidents

1977–1980 Jill Hughes Jones (SA)

1980–1983 Ruth Gericevich (WA)

1983–1986 Jacqueline Dalzell (Vic)

1986–1989 Heather Moon (Qld)

1989–1992 Pat Eiszele (Tas)

1992–1995 Narelle Hines (NSW)

1995–1998 Carolyn Webster (WA)

1998– 2000 Judith Berry (SA)

2000– 2002 Phyllis Davis (NSW)

2002–2004 James Harrison (Tas)

2004–2006 Kim Hepper (SA)

2006–2008 Jennifer Rabach (Vic)

2008–2010 Cheryl Winter (NT)

2010–2012 Vicky Warwick (WA)

2012–2014 Ruth Melville (Qld)

2014–2016 Jed Duff (NSW)

2016–2018 Sarah Bird

2018– Rebecca East