Joyce Oxenbury – Mercy Place Shepparton (Ave Maria)

Joyce Oxenbury, our oldest resident at Mercy Place Shepparton (Ave Maria), is an admirable woman to be celebrated this International Women’s Day, after a formidable innings of 101 years and still counting.

Born in Euroa in 1922, Joyce started nursing at the young age of 18 at Wangaratta Hospital before transferring to Sydney where working across the road from a brothel was a real eye-opener. “Too many stories to tell…, “says Joyce coyly.

During the war years, 1939-1945, Joyce returned to Wangaratta Hospital to continue her nursing.

In 1943, in nearby Tarrawingee, fires broke out and ‘ambo after ambo’ arrived on the doorstep of the hospital ferrying badly burnt firemen, around 20 of them. Just about to finish her shift, Joyce was forced into emergency action trying to help the injured fellows, but with their clothing stuck to their flesh, it wasn’t an easy task.

Her team of nurses worked all night, and with the help of Aco Emulsion, did their best to remove the clothing and treat the victims. Joyce recalls one gentleman who asked her if he would ever play cricket again. She tried to reassure him that he would, but he unfortunately passed away overnight. Joyce has never forgotten all those men and they are often in her thoughts.

After the second world war ended, Joyce married her partner, Albert, who he himself, fought for three years in the war. They bought a property in Alexandra; had two children; moved to Shepparton where they invested in real estate, buying, building and selling units and houses. Joyce continued her nursing till she was about 70 at Shepparton Hospital in the midwifery section, as she loved working with the mums and their babies.

Notably, Joyce was also a dedicated volunteer at Vinnies which she endured for over 20 years.

She has seen many changes over the years: cars, TV, the introduction of decimal currency in 1966, power, of course, and phones. Joyce adds, “Not all changes have been for the better.”

On International Women’s Day, we thank Joyce and all the amazing women – who work for and receive care and services from Mercy Health – for all your years of service to the community.

You are all truly inspirations to the women of today.