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Episode 51 – Bernadette | Consistency of communication helped Australian nurses during the pandemic


In this episode, you will learn how the consistency of communication helped Bernadette to effectively oversee 18,000 nurses in 73 hospitals across Australia during the pandemic. You will also learn 10 FACTS about Bernadette and what she thinks about perfect body image, positive changes and challenges of 45+ women, what is it for her to feel good and look beautiful, and what advice she would give younger women and 30-year-old self!

You can READ the interview transcript HERE


10 Facts About Bernadette

(at the time of the project)

1. 53 years old.

2. Bernadette married her childhood sweetheart when she was 20. So she’s been married for 34 years.

3. And she has three beautiful children who are all grown up to be very successful, but really kind and fabulous people.

4. Bernadette’s youngest daughter lives in the US at the moment, and one of her sons studied in New York, and she has a sister overseas. So she travelled a bit.

5. When Bernadette and her husband were young, they were saving up money to put carpet in their house. One day they had to choose to either go to Paris for two weeks or carpet the house. They went to Paris. And she will remember it forever.

6. Bernadette has worked her entire life as a nurse. She is currently the Chief Nurse and clinical services director for Ramsey healthcare Australia. So, she oversees 18,000 nurses and 73 hospitals.

7. Bernadette really values professional development and education. And while she worked full time, she also did her doctorate and became a Doctor of Nursing PhD. She finished it in the early 2000s and vowed she would never study again. But Bernadette has actually just finished a Master of Health and medical law.

8. At the start of the pandemic Bernadette has taken up running for the first time in her life. She did it for her mental health and well-being just to feel she was doing something out of lockdown away from the computer and the phone.

9. Biggest challenge at this age – “My eyesight. And I find the recovery time if you become unwell takes a lot longer”

10. Positive change with age – “I think you care a whole lot less about what people think of you.”

Watch Bernadette’s VIDEO interview HERE




Hi, you're listening to My Body My Story podcast.

It's funny, I look back on a time when we were saving up money to put carpet in our house and we were like we have this choice we could have gone to Paris for two weeks, or carpet the house and you know we I thought at the time, foolishly we went to Paris for two weeks. But you know, I will remember forever, that trip.

This is the 45 or 45 chapter where we celebrate rule breakers and role models, the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show that sensuality, beauty, soul and true essence. Here we talk about what it's like to be 45 Plus, adjusting to the changes that come with time, and will listen to the stories of our participants. If you have an interesting story to share, we would love you to participate, you can email us on or visit our website, www.

Hi, everyone, and welcome to my body My Story project today with us Bernadette in the studio. And while she's sitting in the makeup chair and Nicole is doing makeup for her. I'll be asking her a few questions. Hi, Bernadette. Welcome to the studio. Welcome to the project.

Hello. Thank you for having me.

And tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 53 years old. It's actually my birthday tomorrow. How are we 54 I married my childhood sweetheart. So we've been married for 34 years. And we have three beautiful children who are all grown up. So definitely an empty nester. And I have worked my entire life as a nurse and I have something I love very much. And I'm currently the Chief Nurse and clinical services director for Ramsey healthcare Australia. So I oversee 18,000 nurses and 73 hospitals. And it's been a very, very busy two years with COVID. But it's a job I love and work that I'm very proud of.

Wow, this is challenging work.

Yes. And the challenging time.

So what are you most passionate about?

I mean, as a mom, of course, you're most passionate about your family and your children. I'm very proud of them. But I'm incredibly passionate about health care, and the high quality care that we provide in Australia. How do we enhance the role of nurses in order to you know, extend their scope of practice to be able to provide care for patients across regional and remote Australia. We've seen people isolated during COVID. And what we're seeing at the moment is a significant nursing workforce shortage. People are exhausted after COVID. They've worked long hours, and we've had high rates of health care worker infection. So I'm very passionate to see Australia continue to be one of the best health systems in the world. But what we what can we do to support that and to really bolster up our sort of somewhat flagging nursing workforce at the moment.

So what do you think was the most challenging moment during the COVID? For nurses, for the medical staff?

I definitely think that fear of the unknown. We started early, no one had dealt with a pandemic like this before. And we did see high rates of infection, particularly in Victoria over the first wave in 2020. And you know, I think I was so proud of everyone. We have a footage of an accident that occurred at one of our hospitals years ago, and an older lady was driving up to the front of the hospital. She presumably had some sort of collapse, and her foot hit the accelerator and she slammed into the front of the hospital. And on the CCTV footage, you can see, understandably, people running away and scattering out of harm's way. And in the CCTV footage, you can see three people running directly towards the car. And they're the nurses from the emergency department so they know something's wrong and somebody could need a hand so while everyone scatters they ran straight towards. And I think that's what's been happening in the pandemic with everyone's been running, you know, towards making sure patients are safe looking after each other. But there has been an incredible fear of the unknown. And I think just the relentlessness of You felt the first wave and now the pandemic is over. And then the next wave and the pandemic is over. And, of course, at the moment we're seeing continuing high rates of infection.

What do you think was the biggest lesson you learn?

I think that the, the consistency of communication, I think that if you even if you don't know as a leader, and you know, as I said, I oversee 73 hospitals, so even if I didn't have the answer, at least communicating that to people to say, we're working on it, we'll have the answer will come back to you. Because when they're not getting enough information, people become very fearful and start looking at a whole range of other information that might not be accurate. So for me the absolute importance of providing, you know, timely communication to people keeping people in the loop, making sure that they're understanding what the processes are. Because if you didn't talk to people every day, it was creating a lot of uncertainty. So I think that power of communication and leadership was such a strong lesson.

Definitely, definitely. Great. So everyone knows that with age we change. But what positive changes have you noticed so far with age?

I think you care a whole lot less about what people think of you. You can spend well, particularly your teen years, but 20 years, you know, am I okay? Am I enough? Am I doing this? Right? Is this gonna work? And you're sort of get into your, you know, your 40s and 50s. And think, well, it doesn't matter. I am enough. That's okay. And if somebody doesn't like that, well, it doesn't matter. So I think you tend to hone much more on the the opinions of the people that really matter to you, and not everybody else. So you can, it's much easier to block out those negative voices. If they're there. They don't matter. So I think that confidence really comes with age and you just don't sweat the small stuff.

Yeah. And what is the biggest challenge so far?

Oh, my eyesight? I can’t see a thing without my glasses. So I think, you know, you can still feel that you're the same age as you were 21. But you know, I think physically definitely deteriorating eyesight. And I find the recovery time if you if you become unwell, or I run and you if you have an injury, a slight tweak, you still feel it three weeks later. So I think that recovery time takes a lot longer. The older you get.

What would it be your greatest accomplishment? So far?

Um, well, again, as a mom, my kids, I'm, you know, incredibly proud of they've grown up to be very successful, but actually just really kind and fabulous people, which I'm very proud of. I think too. I really value professional development and education. And while I worked full time, I also did my doctorate, so became a doctor of nursing PhD, which is very challenging. And, yeah, so I finished about 10 or so probably a bit more than that. years ago in the early 2000s. And then I did vowed I would never study again. But I've actually just finished a Master's of health and medical law. I was really always wanted to study law as well. So I've just finished a law Master's. So you know, I'm proud of that, and that focus on development. But without a doubt, the last two and a half years of leading our hospitals through the pandemic is been definitely the most challenging, but certainly the most rewarding experience I've ever had at work and something I'm really proud of.

And it's very inspiring, like, never stop learning whatever age you are, you can do it.


Excellent. And if you could go back in time and meet your 30 year old self what would you tell her? What advice would you give her?

I think that you know, enjoy the ride. It goes so quickly. It's funny, I was thinking about myself at 30 and it doesn't seem that long ago, but you know, as I said, I'll be 54 tomorrow, I think that's almost another 30 years on top of that, and I feel like I'm exactly the same person. So I think, you know, slow down and enjoy the things. You know, don't stress so much about getting somewhere and getting somewhere quickly, whether that's career wise, or, you know, what's happening with your children. Because, you know, if you love them, they grow up well, and work’s always there. So, you know, take time to travel or spend more time with friends and family, because it is very precious. And yeah, just go so quickly.

Did you traveled a lot?

You know, when I got married very young, I got married when I was 20. And we had our kids pretty early in my early 20s. And, you know, we were pretty broke for a long time I was working part time, hobby was full time. And, you know, the mortgage. And at the time, I look back now the interest rates back then were about 18%. So it was, you know, it was a different time. But when, certainly is the kids who grew up and changing jobs, we had the opportunity to travel. So I've been really fortunate to travel for work. My youngest daughter lives in the US at the moment, and one of my sons studied in New York. So we travelled a bit, and I have a sister overseas. So yeah, I find it's funny. I look back on a time when we were saving up money to put carpet in our house. And we were like, we had this choice. We could have gone to Paris for two weeks, or carpet the house and you know, we I thought at the time, foolishly we went to Paris for two weeks. But you know, I will remember forever. That trip. I don't remember when we got the carpet. It might have been a year later. But I certainly don't remember that year without carpet. So I think you know, sometimes that go for the experience, not the not don't pick the carpet.

It's a good one. And what advice would you give younger women who will eventually undergo the age changes and reach this age? Where at so what would you tell them?

I think it is definitely you know that that look after yourself get into good habits early. I know sometimes it's funny I where I live near the beach, and they have this swimming competition every year. And I had seen these women and they would have been well into their 70s and 80s. And it's just a one kilometre this short race is a one kilometre ocean swim, and they'd get out and I think, man, I hope I'm doing that when I'm 80. And then I think, Well, I'm not doing that when I'm 50. So maybe I should start to, you know, focus towards that. So I think, you know, getting into really good habits early, whether that's, you know, exercise to look after yourself, whether that's meditation, something I can't do, I fall asleep every time I try and meditate. And, you know, physically, I think that just any small bit of exercise, look after your skin look after your teeth. Look after your neck, don't forget your neck when you put your face cream on. So I think it is that, you know, get into good habits early. And I think also really understand the things. I think we're much more focused on mental health and things that make you stressed things that you know, trigger anxiety in you, that a lot of people are experiencing at the moment during the pandemic. So understand those things about yourself, what do you need to focus on for your own well being, and don't just, you know, worry about your hair and your skin worry about your, your mental health as well. It's just as important and it's got to get you through the hard times.

Yeah. Interesting. So I'd like to touch a bit of the subject of body image, and where do you think the idea of perfect body image comes from? And what is it for you? Your perfect body?

I mean, it's easy to say it's definitely you know, the media and beauty companies that will promote a, you know, a particular look as being beautiful, and we've all seen those, you know, Photoshop fails, where you can see very clearly that images on front covers of magazines are edited and photoshopped and you know, is that the ideal, but I think it starts you know, a lot earlier I see, you know, little kids and even then, you know, whether it's parents or others saying, you know, come on buddy don't do that or it almost starts really young in terms of, you know, and it just worries me they As Twain's that have to look a certain way, and I think that they're exposed on you know, now tick tock, I'm too old for tick tock, I'm sure I'll join at some point. But the, you know, all of those, those images. So I think the, you know, unfortunately, you can't just blame the, you know, mainstream media and social media. I think it is ingrained as parents, you know, as teachers, educators at sport. Those comments are often made to children, whether they're overweight, you know, whether they look a certain way, they're a certain race, you know, there's labels for all of those things. And those labels have not been created by the media. They've been created by other people. So yeah, I think as a society, it is something that we, you know, we definitely need to focus on.

But why they create that? Is it coming from their own insecurity? Or, I'm always wondering, like, why small kids are teasing each other? Yes, of course, like, You fatty thing or like you to slim too fast. You know, why? Because the person is different?

You know, that exactly, as you say, the body shaming starts so early, so it's seen fat is bad, thin is good. White is better, like this terrible images and comments that things, you know, are made about people. So I think it does come from that, that sense of insecurity. And children learn from their parents, from their teachers from influence, you know, that sort of influence as well. So, yeah, it I don't know what the answer is. But I think there, that acceptance is just so important. Because it really does start so young.

Yeah. And what would be for you a perfect body.

I think you know, it is that you are able or not able to do everything that you can and I'm really conscious, I've got a very good friend who has a disability. And, you know, I think we, you know, we'd love to be able to do certain things and calm, but I think it's that you maximise your potential. So I've taken up running late in life, it's something I've never been able to do. And, you know, I love it, I took it up at the start of the pandemic, really, for my mental health and well being just to feel I was out doing something out of lockdown away from the computer away from the phone. So for me, my perfect body is that I am able to recover from injury, I'm able to push myself to a limit. And then I feel healthy, within myself. So I think that you're the perfect body is one that's capable of doing everything you need it to do for you.

And what does it mean to you feeling good and looking good? What comes first?

Definitely feeling good. Because I think if maybe I'm someone who who wears either emotion or, you know, my physical state of my face, because there's nothing, you know, I think I'm looking great. I'm feeling terrible. I'm stressed. I'm worried about work. I haven't seen my kids. You know, as I said, I've got a daughter who lives in LA. I haven't didn't get to see her for two years during the pandemic and then you think, Oh, I'm looking alright, because Oh, are you tired? Are you stressed? And so I do think that you carry your anxiety, whether it's in the way you hold your shoulders, your head, all of those things, so definitely feeling good. For me comes first and you know, feeling good is you know, feeling safe, feeling happy. Reducing my stress, particularly with work. And yeah, and then they're looking good. comes after that clearly I'm sitting in a chair getting makeup done. So I you know, always feel great when you get pampered and you know, and look great, but if you don't feel great, I think that shows very much

Yeah, that's true. And what makes you feel the most beautiful?

I definitely think it's you know, probably as I said, I've been with my husband since I was 16. So you know if he's he'll Wow, you look great or those sorts of things. I mean, I do love dressing up. But you know, sometimes you can feel your most beautiful you know, I've gone from really early run I'm on a red hot mess and I live near the beach and jump in the ocean have a swim and I'm a bit bedraggled but I feel that you know, I've achieved something that morning. I'm looking forward to the day ahead and you know, that makes me feel beautiful.

Do you have any favourite quotes about being a woman?

This is a hard question. I think, I think for me the sisterhood, really important and I think It was Madeleine Albright have said that, you know, “There's a special place in hell reserved for women who don't help other women”. But I think it is that, you know, Women Helping Women can achieve amazing things. And I love that saying around, you know, “Be the woman that helps another woman adjust to craft your her crown without telling everyone else that it was crooked in the first place”. And I think that's just a really nice way of supporting someone else without making a fanfare or making the other person feel bad about it, that you've helped them. But I think united and we've certainly seen that in a political landscape the last few weeks in Australia that you know, the power of women working together is incredibly awesome.

Thank you, Bernadette. Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. And thank you for joining our project. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the day and your photoshoot, and welcome again to the project.

Thank you so much, Alexandra, I'm very excited. Thank you.

If you have an interesting story to share would love for you to participate. You can email us at or visit our website, www.





This is the 45 over 45 chapter of MY BODY MY STORY podcast, where we celebrate rule breakers and role models - the women who inspire us to live life our way and to show their SENSUALITY, BEAUTY, SOUL, and TRUE ESSENCE.

For more information about the project visit:

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