The Founding of APNA

APNA sits down with Samantha Moses, APNA Founder 

I was hospital trained at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in SA in 1989. When I finished I took a job at the Orange Base Hospital in NSW. I was visiting my GP one day and he asked me if I would like to come and work for him. He had never had a nurse there before and thought it would be great to have one. It was a GP clinic with six doctors.

I attended a RCNA nurses’ information day at the Sofitel in Melbourne. At the conference I asked whether there was a membership organisation I could join as a practice nurse and was told that the RCNA would be keen in hearing from anyone interested in starting one. 

I was very excited and completely pumped. I had told someone from the RCNA about my plan to create a network specifically for nurses working in general practice and they were very supportive of my ideas. 

However, when my excitement settled, I felt that I did not really want to hand this over to a large organisation. I decided I wanted the association to be a group organised and run by practice nurses for practice nurses; nurses who worked with patients in the primary care setting and recognised the needs for primary health care workers. This motto became APNA’s tagline a few years later. 

I went to chat with Dr John Hatfield, with whom I was working at the time. He was very supportive; he gave me the use of an office and wrote a letter of introduction and support to our local member Mr Peter Costello, who was also enthusiastic and supportive of the idea. 

Unbeknown to me at the time, the Howard Government was looking to invest in pilot programs for general practice nursing. There were funds to be allocated to encourage the employment of nurses in general practice. Obviously, the government had realised the value a nurse could bring to general practice and the role that nurses in this setting could have in reducing the number of hospital admissions. 

I wrote to the Department of Health towards the end of 2000 to introduce myself and what I had decided would be the Australian Practice Nurses Association. Soon after, I was invited to a workshop at Albert Park, where I was given a name tag that read, ‘Samantha Moses, Australian Practice Nurses Association’ – it was official! Even at this early stage it was amazing that people had heard about APNA and wanted to know more. During lectures at this event at Albert Park they introduced me, said where I was from and valued my contribution to the topics discussed. 






A little while later, I was invited to speak at the Victorian Rural General Practice Conference in Lorne. 

It was a lecture theatre full of opportunity and a somewhat captive audience. So, I got up and told them why, as GPs, they needed to employ a practice nurse and the many benefits it would bring to their practices. I met Lynne Walker (who later became an APNA President) at this conference. We got talking and she expressed her interest in what I was doing. 

Early support came from the RACGP, and it was through them that I sent an email to invite nurses to the first APNA meeting. At this meeting we formed a committee. 

This committee met fortnightly, and agreed we needed to get funding to get our little Association off the ground. 

Someone from the Department of Health and Ageing approached us, aware of what we were trying to do, and told us there was some funding available. 

Writing submissions to the Government to apply for funding was something none of us had ever done. We all learned so much from this experience. 

It was a funny day the day I went to have APNA incorporated. I drove to the city in August 2001 and stood in a really big queue for ages. After completing the paperwork, standing in line and paying the money, it was finally real. I felt like we really existed and we had the piece of paper to prove it. I turned around and thought I really wanted to share this moment with someone, but instead I faced a room full of strangers with no idea about why I was standing there with a ridiculous grin across my face or the time and effort that had been invested to get to this point. I will never forget the feeling of achievement – it was a very special moment for me. 

The committee communicated with Canberra through roundtable teleconferences. Although our application for funding was good, we had to fight for our independence. There was a lot of pressure directed at the Government from existing organisations for us to ‘merge’, but we maintained our focus and held tight to the benefits of independence and managed to get there in the end. It was all systems go. 

I got talking to a patient of mine who was a freelance journalist. She interviewed me over lunch and as a result we had our first a half page article in The Age in Victoria. 

We spread the word for membership through meetings and support from local divisions and the RACGP and we signed on 200 members fairly rapidly. 

We were designing a map for a website and also designed a T-shirt. I went off to Chadstone Shopping Centre and found a man in a booth and had him design a purple and green logo. Smith & Nephew and, in particular, a fellow named Russell, were really supportive of the whole process, they supplied member diaries, paid for lunches for meetings and paid for the first newsletter, APNA news, which was colour and printed. 

For personal reasons, I stepped down in 2002. Lynne Walker became the President and was an incredible catalyst for the Association. 

Practice nursing is a very dynamic profession, which will continue to evolve and change as the health care needs of the general population grow. Some of the doctors I have worked with have been amazing and would push you to your scope boundaries at which point you would find the motivation to grow your boundaries and they would support this process. Unfortunately, this is not the case with all doctors, but I am hopeful that with some lateral thinking and perseverance this hierarchical structure will crumble and we will be left with a level playing field. However, I think this must begin at university. 

Into the future, I would like to see APNA continue to listen to their members and their needs, and provide support to primary health care nurses in local regions working with the existing infrastructure of other organisations. I would like to see APNA and primary health care embedded into universities so student nurses are fully aware of the potential of primary health care nursing. I would also like to see APNA continue to push the full use of a nurse’s scope of practice eventually giving the patient great choice. 

My most prominent memory of APNA is the enthusiasm that existed among the nurses I met and the speed at which we were accepted as a valid association. We were recognised as something that was needed pretty much straight away. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and a little bit of good luck. 

This is just the beginning. We are building a history of APNA – if you have some memories to share we would love to collect stories, anecdotes, photos, media clippings, anything related to APNA that might contribute to an archive of our Association.



Key members

Founding members

  • Samantha Moses
  • Christine Ash (Liu)
  • Mandy Green
  • Kate Douglas (Greenwood)
  • Marion Jenkins
  • Joanne Humphreys


  • Samantha Moses 2001–2003
  • Lynne Walker March 2003–August 2006
  • Judy Evans August 2006–August 2007
  • Anne Matyear August 2007–August 2010
  • Julianne Badenoch August 2010–2014
  • Karen Booth August 2014–Present

Chief Executive Officers

  • Paul Geyer 2004–2005
  • Belinda Caldwell 2005–2012
  • Matt Hall 2012-2012 *Acting CEO
  • Kathy Bell 2012-2015
  • Matt Hall 2015-2015*Acting CEO
  • Bronwyn Morris-Donovan 2015-2016 *Acting CEO
  • David Malone 2016-2018
  • Darren Carr 2018-2018
  • Ken Griffin 2018-Present

Board, National Executive Committee and Sub Branch Committee members

Carol Forrest, Joanne Humphreys, Kate Greenwood, Mandy Green, Vivienne Pike, Juliet Esmonde, Marion Jenkins, Sue Rayner, Christine Liu, Anne Matyear, Natalie Evans, Marg Gordon, Debbie Skinner-Louis, Vivienne Pike, Genevieve Fitzpatrick, Veronica Zielonka, Rochele Thomas, Julie McSwiggan, Leanne Rich, Julianne Badenoch, Sally Guthrie, Valmai McKenzie, Judy Evans, Nicole Birrell, Lynne Walker, Johanna Engwerda, Deborah Ingram, John Wills, John Douglas, Kevin Pittman, Sharon Kirkham, Maurice Wrightson, Carmen Pearce, Tracey Everett, Jenny Dandeaux, Karen Booth, Susan Halsey, Peter Larter, Cathy Pearson, Anthony Hobbs, Jane Butcher, Jacqui Young, Liz Halcomb, Kathy Godwin, Holly Ransom, Ken Griffith, Denise Lyons, Jane Bollen, Melissa Cromarty, Ros Rolleston.

Source: APNA Annual Report 2011

The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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