A remarkable person, a generous giver, a matriarch, a forward-thinking individual, a ground-breaker and a role model of Catholic faith in action: these are just some of the words used to describe Margaret Hubery.
Mrs Hubery passed away at Hollywood Private Hospital, Perth, on Saturday, 3 January after having led an extraordinary life which profoundly impacted Western Australians from all walks of life and contributed significantly to the aged care and health sectors. Her funeral was celebrated by Rev Fr Vincent Glynn on 9 January at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth.
Mrs Hubery leaves a great legacy of achievements, including being awarded the Order of Australia in 1993 for her meritorious service to nursing and community service in Western Australia. In the same year, she was also inducted into the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and was an active member and strong supporter of its aims and objectives. Mrs Hubery was renowned for her strong faith and commitment to the Catholic Church.
Mrs Hubery was the only daughter of the well-known Foley family and sister of the late Fr Dan Foley, long-standing Parish Priest of Good Shepherd Parish in Lockridge.
She was educated at the Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions, Sacred Heart Primary School and College in Highgate, after which she undertook general nursing training at Royal Perth Hospital and completed her midwifery training at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in Sydney. Mrs Hubery was later awarded a Florence Nightingale Scholarship to study nursing administration at the College of Nursing in Melbourne and developed a deep commitment to aged care in the late 1970s.
In 1978, she was appointed to the position of Director of Nursing at Mt Henry Hospital for the Aged and successfully challenged the Health Department’s “C” classification of the hospital.
Two years later, she was able to take on leadership roles through further studies in industrial psychology. In this time, she was granted the Helen Bailey Scholarship to study the care of the aged and palliative care in the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark.
In the midst of this steep climb in her career, Mrs Hubery was married to Percy Hubery in 1967 and spent seven years on a dairy farm in Bridgetown, WA, where she gave birth to her two daughters, Louise and Liz.
Mrs Hubery managed to keep her nursing interests alive by establishing a Silver Chain District Nursing Service, running a Red Cross First Aid Post and serving on the Bridgetown Hospital Board. She would later become the first female president of Silver Chain and serve as a member of the Silver Chain Board of Management.
Yet it was in the very place where she had been trained, Royal Perth Hospital, where Mrs Hubery took one of the great steps of her career. In 1984, she was appointed as Director of Nursing at RPH and would spend all but ten years of her working life there.
Mrs Hubery also channelled her dedication to looking after the elderly at Southern Cross Care (WA) Pty Ltd, where she became the first female board member, initially consulting to the board from 1990 to 1992, joining the board as Director from 1993 to 2005 and holding the position of Chairperson from 1997 to 1999.
Her significant contribution to Southern Cross Care was acknowledged with the naming of the Margaret Hubery House residential care home and retirement complex in Shelley in the year 2000.
Mrs Hubery spent the last two years of her life living there.
Other notable achievements in Mrs Hubery’s life include her appointment as Vice President of St Anne’s Hospital, her membership of the Divisional Council of Red Cross, her presidency of the Friends of Royal Perth Hospital and selection as Chairperson for the Committee for the Aged Sisters – Our Lady of the Missions.
Mrs Hubery’s legacy of achievements does not speak for other countless, positive traits of her personality.
Aside from describing her as a strong, loyal woman who lived by her Christian principles, daughters Louise and Liz spoke of Mrs Hubery’s love of singing, travel, family gatherings, tennis and football and of her dry, witty sense of humour.
In the words of daughter Louise, Margaret Hubery “was a remarkable woman, who lived an extraordinary life. Her faith was a strong and constant source of guidance, inspiration and comfort throughout her life.”
This view was strengthened by Fr Vincent Glynn, whose homily at Mrs Hubery’s funeral emphasised that “Margaret’s faith wasn’t a pious faith, it wasn’t a faith just about going to Church, it wasn’t a faith just about saying prayers and being a good person. She saw her faith in Christ as something that called her to action, and her life spreads that Christian faith through Christian action. We’ve seen examples of that through her involvement in hospitals, Southern Cross Homes and Silver Chain. Her faith was expressed in a practical application to those who needed help, particularly those who were suffering from illness or those reaching old age. Her faith was faith in action. I think that should be a great example to all of us. That Jesus came not to be served, but to serve. And Margaret, for all the important positions she held, above all saw that her life and work was not about power, not control, but about service to others. Particularly those in need.”
Mrs Hubery’s actions and beliefs will hopefully serve as an inspiration for anyone wishing to orient their career toward nursing and caring for the elderly.
In collaboration with Southern Cross Care (WA) Pty Ltd.