A Daring Woman


The story of Sister Jean Henderson, MBE.

by: Susan Sherson

Publish date: 8/7/2018
Pages: 262
Publisher: Morning Star Publishing
Dimensions: 148 x 210 mm
ISBN: 9780648232476

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Jean Henderson was quite a young girl when she determined that she would become a nurse and go to work overseas “to help those poor folk who needed care”.

This ambition led to her training at The Royal Melbourne Hospital in General Nursing, then Midwifery education, working for a time in Bush Nursing hospitals and eventually being called for Missionary service. Jean was posted to Papua New Guinea in January 1946, just months after World War II in the Pacific ended, and found a world still reeling from its effects.

She stayed until after Independence from Australia was celebrated in September 1975. A Daring Woman traces Jean’s story from her earliest days, through those amazing years in Papua New Guinea, to her life as a Nurse Educator and Matron following her return to Australia. There were challenges and adventures in every role she undertook and the way Jean approached them, even in retirement, was both inspiring and sometimes very funny. Like most of us, Jean was not always right but there was always in her actions a deep commitment both to nursing and to her God.

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About the author

Susan Sherson (nee Terry) is a nurse and a nursing historian with a particular interest in clinical ethics. She completed her basic education at the Melbourne School of Nursing in 1962. Susan went with seven other Royal Melbourne Hospital personnel to Long Xuyen, South Vietnam, as part of the first civilian Australian Surgical Team to be sent to that country during the Vietnam war.

On her return to Australia, she wrote House of Love – Life in a Vietnamese Hospital (Lansdowne Press, 1966). Further overseas travel followed, including time in New Guinea. Susan’s book ‘Being There’ Nursing at “The Melbourne’” Victoria’s First Hospital, detailing 157 years of nursing service to Australia, was published in 2005.

2 reviews for A Daring Woman

  1. Graham Brown, AM, Professor Emeritus, University of Melbourne.

    In this highly readable account of the life of Jean Henderson, Susan Sherson provides a glimpse of the enormous contribution of a true servant of the people of PNG as she and her colleagues dealt with everyday challenges of limited resources, complicated medical issues, and enormous distances to each vulnerable community.

  2. June Allen, AM. Former Director of Nursing, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne and first nurse to Chair the Victorian Nurses’ Board.

    A nurse graduating today would find it difficult to imagine the challenges met by Jean Henderson in her nursing practice during her years in New Guinea. She was a visionary, a courageous woman who mostly worked with very little to achieve something quite extraordinary. The nurse of today and those with an interest in true stories of human endeavour and commitment should read this highly engaging book.

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