The Hobart

Frances Donaldson

by Lily Whiting
Frances Donaldson

Dr Frances Donaldson is the Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year for 2023, after a rewarding 64 years of working in the Tasmanian healthcare system. From a junior nurse to studying medicine, 12 years in prison health and now leading the COVID@home service, those scrubs aren’t getting hung up anytime soon.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m from Cygnet and I now live in Hobart.

Why Hobart? Hobart is where I work and where most of my loved ones live.

Tell us a little about your work? I have spent some 20 years as a nurse, rising to Director of Nursing before finishing my medicine study in 1982 and working as a GP since. I worked for 12 years as a Correction Health Practitioner in Tasmania’s prison system, and at the moment work/lead as a virtual COVID doctor in the state wide COVID@HOME PLUS programme treating people in the comfort and safety of their homes.

Since mid December 2021, we have treated more than 27,000 adults and children. This programme is an excellent Tasmanian nurse-led programme and I’ve very much enjoyed working in it for the past three years.

Congratulations on being Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year for 2023. Was being nominated a pleasant surprise? Being nominated and then chosen to be the 2023 Senior Tasmanian Australian of the Year was a great honor! I look forward to continuing to advocate for better health outcomes for the elderly and those who are in the prison system.

As the first female nurse accepted into medicine in Tasmania, what drives you? Yes it was such a privilege to be the first Tasmanian female nurse selected to study Medicine at UTAS and I will never stop working hard to improve the health of Tasmanians.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in healthcare? There have been so many changes in the 64 years since I first started nursing but a few developments stand out to me. Advances in antibiotic therapy, vaccinations and pharmaceutical therapies have been particularly outstanding to witness while radiology techniques like ultrasound, CT and MRI and treatments like endoscopy, laparoscopy, transplantation and antivirals have made our work as a nurse far easier and much more enjoyable for the patients we think!

What do you love doing outside work? Gardening, patchwork, reading and crosswords.

Who do you admire? Medical profes­sionals such as Victor Chan and Richard “Harry” Harris.

Favourite podcast or tv show? British Crime Drama Vera.

Secret vice? Salted caramel ice-cream.

What are you reading now? Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson.

What gets your goat? People who are rude on the telephone.

What are your daily news/social media habits? ABC News, Facebook and Twitter.

Your favourite place for…

Breakfast: A breakfast at home – can’t beat it.

Lunch: The Den.

Dinner: Peppina.

Favourite team? West Coast Eagles.

Parting words? Be vigilant about your health, stay COVID safe and vaccinate.

Love this

Cold Water Wake Up Call
It seems everywhere I turn someone is talking about or participating in cold water swimming right now.
A Short Geelong Getaway
Since the Spirit of Tasmania terminal moved from Melbourne to Geelong late last year, a visit to Geelong has been on the radar.
27 Hobart Friends Get Snipping For One Off Wine
The borders were declared shut in Tasmania on the 30th of March, 2020; the first stare to do so amid the COVID- 19 pandemic and hard lockdown of Hobart followed.
Danphe Nepalese and Indian Food + Peppermint Bay Bar and Bistro
Nepalese food is a comfort in our house. Having spent much time trekking and mountain climbing in Nepal as a younger man, Nepalese food is something I always love to go back to.
That’s DR Hannah Gadsby To You
From Smithton to Netflix and the Emmys stage, Tasmanian stand up comic Hannah Gadsby has forged an unlikely path. Following on from the massive success of her shows Nanette and Douglas, Hannah brings her new show Body of Work to Hobart this month.
PODCAST: Incat founder Robert Clifford on why electric boats are the future
Robert Clifford is the founder of Incat, a Hobart company building fast ferries for the world. Always looking to future opportunities, he has identified where Hobart sits in the next wave of transportation. For more of this interview listen to The Hobart Magazine podcast.
Is Tourism Ready For More Forestry Wars?
Tasmanian forests are special. They’re home to centuries-old trees, including the tallest flowering trees on the planet, and support unique native species. Yet not everyone agrees on how these forests should be managed.
Hobart Chefs: When The Obsession Becomes Real
Tasmania’s brand as a foodie haven is cemented. But within the local hospitality industry there are those who love to use local produce...and those who are next-level obsessed with it. We spoke to a bunch of Hobart chefs who are top of the game when it comes to fostering relationships with local farmers and growers.
Did You Know Australia’s First Female Doctor Was Hobartian?
Tasmania, despite its small size and population in comparison to the mainland, has produced more than its proportionally predicted percentage of significant figures and heroes of Australian history. 
Return Travellers Adding Pressure to Hobart Housing
For all of us 2020 was a year like no other, punctuated by rapid change and plenty of new challenges. For vulnerable people in Tasmania, including people facing homelessness, those on low incomes and those facing increasingly higher rents, it was very challenging. We are seeing a growing demand for homes in Tassie from international travellers returning home, people moving for work and others seeking the lifestyle that our Apple Isle has to offer.
AboutContributeAdvertiseNewsletter Sign UpContact
February 2024

Stay up to date with everything happening at the Hobart Magazine.

Thank you to Luke Brokensha for mobilising his friends and local residents recently to host two rubbish clean ups along the Hobart Rivulet after heavy rains.
The warm weather returns...hello summer.
Need a laugh? Check out @theinspiredunemployed feed on Instagram.
Moto Vecchia Cafe in Bellerive and Czegs Cafe in Richmond have joined the Clarence City Council dementia program, creating dementia-friendly spaces for all patrons.
It’s hard to believe it’s not standard practice to have a working phone in every aged care room - shared phones make private conversations impossible and increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Tacks on the tracks. Mountain bikers beware of tacks being left on certain tracks on the mountain.
Just when you think your cousins are alright. NZ Opposition Leader Judith Collins took aim at Tassie during her recent (unsuccessful) campaign, calling us Australia’s “poor cousin.” She also seems worried about us nabbing tech businesses, “It’s a lovely part of the world but do you necessarily want to go there with your high- tech business? Possibly not,” she said. We beg to differ!