Marilyn Austin

466 South Street, corner of South Street and Maitland Street


My name is Marilyn Austin. I’m a graduate of the Victoria Hospital School of Nursing, 1967.

It was commonplace for those who were of age, which was twenty-one, to go down to the Vic House, and there were a bunch of us who went down, there were intermediate students and there were senior students. Now, the senior students, maybe some of them were twenty one, but the majority of the people there would be underage.  Well someone called the authorities and the police came and four of us were caught without identification. Obviously, we were all underage. We were not inebriated. And some managed to escape, we did not.

In those days, there was not a way out of the basement. There was only one way in and one way out, and we saw people running and then we were stuck. And they called the School of Nursing. And the next day I was working on the wards and was called to one of the senior instructors. And if you got called to Ms. Erskine’s office, you knew there was, something was wrong.  And when I walked through the door through the Residence, into the School of Nursing, there were the other three. So there were many tears and saying you’re sorry and you know, these people would never accept that young ladies in fine standing ruining the name of Victoria Hospital and the legend and sort of community opinion of the hospital and the standard with which they wanted to portray to the community, which you’ve ruined, you know, the reputation.

We had twenty-four hours to notify our parents of what had happened, we would not be charged. And our parents then had to call the school of nursing, “Yes, my daughter has told me.” If we did not do that, we would be out. So my parents were quite accepting, you have to learn that sometimes you do these things and you get caught. It was a pretty scary time for us. And we all lost our late leaves for six months but I think you had to be in your room by nine or nine thirty and a late leave was to stay out till eleven.