October 17, 2019

Debra Bourne: What were you doing in the 80’s?

In the lead up to this year’s 80’s themed Northern Health Foundation Dinner, we sat down with Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Debra Bourne, to find out what she was doing in the 80’s! To purchase your tickets to the Dinner, please click here. 

What were you doing in the 80’s?

The 80’s was a time in which I was transitioning from high school to general nursing training at The Alfred Hospital – firstly as a student nurse then as a ‘Sister’ in the burns ward and then ICU. I remember my first day as a Sister…blue uniform and a big red cape…I was so proud to be wearing that cape. Moving into the nurses home in June 1984 was a significant event for me.

At the age of 18 leaving home and moving into the nurses home with 50 other young women was momentous. Despite the midnight curfew at the nurses home, there was ample opportunity to enjoy new experiences that Prahran and inner city Melbourne brought.

Tell us if you were travelling somewhere exciting. What made it so exciting?

I went to Bali for the first time at the age of 19 with 20 other student nurses. This was my first trip ever overseas and Bali in the 80’s was very different to what Bali is like now. Too much sun, too little food and too much of the local drink taught me a very early lesson of the importance of looking after ones health. In 1988, I travelled around Europe for five months initially as part of a tour and then backpacking with little money and sleeping in parks when no cheap accommodation was found. My fondest memory of this time was renting a room in a small white washed house on Mykonos in Greece for three weeks at $10 a week.

What’s your best memory from the 80’s? 

My days in the nurses home. After 10 weeks of pre training school, we worked in the wards as a student nurse and would have up to 7 – 10 patients each. But after our shifts finished, the social life and the friendship with my nursing friends made for some great times.

Did you go to any concerts or festivals? 

Dire Straits came to Melbourne in the late 80’s….I had tickets for the stand-up area only and arrived 10 hours before the concert to get a place right down the front. I can clearly remember when they sang Romeo and Juliet and I think I shed a tear or two. Also, Australian Crawl at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl – we often went to the Myer Music Bowl for outdoor concerts.

What were you listening to in the 80’s? 

By far my favourite band was Crowded House…I had their first self-titled album which I played over and over again in the car. And weirdly my other favourite tape was the soundtrack to ‘The Man From Snowy River’.

What was your favourite thing to do on a Friday/Saturday night?

I was working shift work so Friday or Saturday was not often a set night…generally a night out was at one of the night clubs…the Chevron or the Butter Factory…or the local pub.

What was the daggiest 80s outfit you wore? Do you have a photo?

Yes…but I didn’t think I looked daggy at the time.

Did you own a boom box?

No, but had the cassette player with head phones which I thought was just so modern.

Did you used to watch RAGE on Saturday mornings?

Only occasionally…we had a shared TV room on each floor of the nurses home and therefore watched very little TV. What I  do remember was the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di…I was still at home then and our whole family sat around the TV to watch this.

Was there anything that made your heart stop in the 80’s?

I met my husband when I had just turned 19, I suppose we were both very young but he certainly made my heart stop.