She did not like a fuss, but when Alison Bush is laid to rest next week she is going to get one.
The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, the NSW Governor, Marie Bashir, and the Premier, Kristina Keneally, will attend her funeral, to honour the woman known as the "giant of midwifery", and the first face seen by more than 1000 newborns over four decades.
Sister Bush, as she was known, died from pancreatic cancer at Royal Prince Alfred hospital last weekend – her workplace and second home since 1969.
"She was a giant in the midwifery profession – and among her own people. A most remarkable midwife just adored by everyone," the director-general of NSW Health, Debora Picone, said.
The first Aboriginal nurse to be based at a major metropolitan hospital in NSW, Sister Bush, was known as a "cultural broker" between Aboriginal women and the health system, ensuring they were cared for in a respectful, safe and secure way.
"She was determined to make sure the hospital was a welcoming environment . . . and was a place that recognised their culture and needs," Professor Picone said.
"Her clinical and cultural expertise was widely respected and will be dearly missed, but above all Alison will be missed as a person. [She] never wavered from her pursuit of better health care for Aboriginal mums and their babies, and the hundreds born into her care are living proof of what a difference she made."
Sister Bush, who was 68, began her career at Marrickville Hospital in 1960, became a midwife in 1966 while at Canterbury Hospital, and moved to RPA in 1969.
She was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the NSW Health Aboriginal Health Awards, was the first midwife to be made an honorary fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists, was made an Officer of the Order of Australia and received the Centenary of Federation medal.
... Sister Bush's funeral will be held at St Brigid's in Marrickville on Wednesday. Her ashes will be placed in her twin sister's grave in Darwin.