Phyllis Davis AM

ACORN is proud and delighted that Phyllis Davis RN of NSW was awarded the Order of Australia in 2018. Phyllis, who is currently the nurse manager of the Randwick Campus operating suites at the Prince of Wales Hospital, the Sydney Children’s Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Women New South Wales, is a committed perioperative nurse dedicated to helping others become active within their profession. Her willingness to give guidance to other nurses, her kind manner and her commitment to fairness and equity are widely appreciated. We congratulate Phyllis for this award in recognition of her work and thank her for the enormous contribution she has made to perioperative nursing at state, national and international level.

Phyllis has been very generous in contributing her time to professional perioperative nursing organisations, including New South Wales Operating Theatre Association (NSW OTA), ACORN, International Federation of Perioperative Nurses (IFPN), Friends of African Nursing (FOaN), Perioperative Project in the Pacific Nursing Group (PPPNG) and Asian Perioperative Nurses Association (ASIORNA), over the past twenty-five years or more. A life-member of NSW OTA since 2012, she is currently an active member of NSW OTA where she has held the roles of conference convenor, zone coordinator, vice-president and president. Phyllis currently represents perioperative nurses on the Surgical Services Taskforce, a high-level NSW Health Department committee where she advises on operating theatre policies, and is still active in the review of operating suites in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania.

Phyllis has also contributed greatly to ACORN in her roles on the ACORN board including a term as president from 2000 to 2002 when she was active in promoting perioperative nursing and addressing issues widely affecting perioperative nurses. In 2005 Phyllis was seconded to the Nursing and Midwifery Office of NSW Health to coordinate the Enrolled Nurses Perioperative Project. Phyllis was awarded fellowship of ACORN in May 2006. She played a major part in ensuring that ACORN became a member of the ASIORNA group and her work culminated with ACORN becoming the first non-Asian member of ASIORNA in 2013. Phyllis has represented Australia at many overseas conferences and in 2003 delivered the prestigious Daisy Ayris Memorial Lecture at the UK’s National Association of Theatre Nurses’ Conference. In 2006, Phyllis was awarded the Nicholas Stenning Education Grant for the best paper presented at the ACORN annual conference held in Canberra. She is still actively involved in ACORN, developing and reviewing ACORN standards.

Phyllis has been an active and passionate advocate for perioperative nursing in developing nations. She is an ambassador for IFPN and one of Phyllis’s most significant achievements has been her work with the perioperative nurses of Papua New Guinea (PNG). During the early 2000s Phyllis made many visits to PNG to educate, support and mentor PNG perioperative nurses, arranging conferences and negotiating sponsorship through Australian-based medical companies to fund her visits and sponsor the attendance of PNG nurses at ACORN conferences in Australia. She helped finance basics such as photocopying and meeting venues by sourcing financial support from medical companies and fundraising though raffles and jumble sales as well as assisting local participants to build relationships with key contacts such as Ministry of Health or chief nursing officers.

Phyllis’s enthusiasm and commitment to PNG perioperative nurses culminated in 2004 when she oversaw the formation of the PNG Perioperative Nurses Society (PNGPNS), with assistance from a UK-based nursing colleague and support from ACORN and IFPN. She mentored PNG perioperative nurse leaders towards the society becoming a member of the IFPN.

As a result of her first-hand experience and her commitment to the PNGPNS, Phyllis collaborated in the development of a tool kit designed to assist developing countries set up their own professional perioperative organisations (see link below). Her approach has been strategic; however, her hands-on work at the coalface is a testament to her dedication at an international level and a big part of the continued success of her work.

Phyllis has used her personal time and finances to attend meetings and educational seminars in PNG and would take extra suitcases full of clothes, cosmetics and other personal items that she knew the local nurses would appreciate. She has been strong in her support of other groups such as FoAN and, most recently, the Perioperative Project in the Pacific Nursing Group with Menna Davis and Sally Sutherland-Fraser. Phyllis participated in a live webinar in August 2016 to discuss the formation of a professional association to connect all the perioperative nurses within the Pacific.

Phyllis continues her dedication to these international groups and to perioperative nurses in NSW and Australia to this day. We congratulate Phyllis on being admitted into the Order of Australia and thank her for her work advocating for perioperative nursing in New South Wales, nationally, and internationally within the Pacific, African and Asian countries.