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Take every opportunity this International Women’s Day 


In celebration of International Women’s Day, we sat down with Toni-Maree Henaway, Mater Education Director of Learning and Development to reflect on her career as a nurse, midwife, and educator. 


Toni-Maree joined Mater in 2007 and transitioned to Mater Education in the same year. Before joining Mater, Toni-Maree worked as a nurse, midwife, and educator in various hospitals and in the tertiary education sector, TAFE, and university. 


Upon leaving school Toni-Maree said she knew she wanted to work with children but didn’t know exactly how.  


My very last day of school I was sitting in the Home Economics room wondering what I was going to do and then it hit me… ‘I could be a nurse’.”  I went home and applied that day. 


Toni-Maree is passionate about nursing and midwifery and relished the opportunities and variety available to nurses and midwives throughout their careers. 


“I started my career in paediatrics, before deciding to move to caring for adult patients and looking after critical care patients and then maternity. Along the way, I got a taste for supporting people and facilitating students one on one and that was the start of my education career.” 


“That is the beauty of healthcare. You can be a nurse in different clinical specialties. You can be a nurse educator, researcher, a manager – there really are so many possibilities... I like to take on a new challenge every three years!” 


In 2024, Toni-Maree is challenging herself once again. Now, she is leading the next generation of the nursing workforce through Mater Education’s renowned Diploma of Nursing.  


Throughout her career, Toni-Maree has supported women at their most difficult and challenging times. While working in paediatrics, she advocated for a mother of a patient, who was certain her premature baby needed urgent medical attention. 


My patienta mother of a premature baby, kept saying, ‘something is wrong, something is wrong.’ But there was nothing I could see, and no data to support that anything was wrong with her baby. And the doctors just didn't think she was right.” 


“I knew the mother was right. She knew her child and she knew her baby needed helpI backed the mother to insist the doctors reviewed the baby. The baby had an emergency episode straight afterwards, and because I had supported the mother and insisted, the medical team were there and could provide immediate care.” 


This International Women's Day, celebrations are centered around inspiring inclusion, and the notion that when women themselves are inspired to be included, it generates a sense of belonging, relevance, and empowerment. 


Whether it’s for her students, her colleagues or her younger self, Toni-Maree’s advice to inspire inclusion is the same; back yourself and never be afraid to try something.

“It doesn't matter what anyone says, get in and have a go. Sometimes you can get in your own way and say, ‘I don't know if I can do that.’ You can. You just need to give it a go.” 


“There is no amount of learning that is ever lost – take every opportunity. 

Townsville Open Day - 18 May

Be inspired by students and educators at Mater Private Hospital Townsville and learn more about what a career in healthcare might look like for you!

Register now