When Australia got its first case of COVID-19, people were rightly panicked.
To many on the wards of the Canberra Hospital, the virus was still the great unknown - but not to Wendy Beckingham.
Her infection prevention and control team had been prepared for the coronavirus to hit for months.
Registered nurse and team member Farida Kavata said their practices and international connections meant they were ready since late 2019.
"When everyone else was dealing with the fires, we'd already started the preparation for coronavirus to land into Australia," she said.
"We were like, 'OK, we already know what we need to do, let's just get on the floors and try to sort everyone out and prepare everyone for what's coming.'"
Ms Kavata put the team's preparedness down to Ms Beckingham's outstanding leadership skills.
Before COVID-19, Ms Beckingham said people didn't care enough about infection prevention and control. She felt there was a whole generation of people who didn't embrace it.
Just before International Women's Day on Monday, she celebrated 50 years in nursing, and 36 years working at Canberra Hospital.
"Everybody [went], '[The team] are over there', or, 'Yes, that's part of our mantra', but I think now people really grasp why infection prevention and control is so important," Ms Beckingham said.
The theme for International Women's Day in 2021 is "Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world".
The ACT's response to the pandemic has been led by women, with Rachel Stephen-Smith as the ACT's Health Minister, Dr Kerryn Coleman as Canberra's Chief Health Officer, and Bernadette McDonald heading the territory's clinical response as Canberra Health Services' chief executive.
Ms Beckingham hoped she and her team of female nurses had helped pave the way for people to take infection prevention and control more seriously, even after coronavirus hopefully subsided.
"I feel that, maybe at the end of my career, we've been able to embed why we do infection prevention and control," Ms Beckingham said.
"Now we've got little ones coming through and they know how to wash their hands and how to do respiratory hygiene."
Ms Beckingham said while it was important to look to the future for women's improved equality, it was also vital to remember what older generations had already done for women's rights.
She said it was her parents' generation of women who'd decided they should go to work, but few women in her generation completed year 12 and went on to higher education.
Ms Beckingham was among the first in Canberra to complete a shortened two-year nursing course at the old Royal Canberra Hospital.
"I believe that we who went on are the pioneers for [younger] generations," Ms Beckingham said.
"We, in my early days, did a lot of striking as nurses to get equal pay, equal opportunity, equal everything for these people so they had the rights to go on and have a profession."
Canberra Hospital clinical midwifery manager Wendy Alder said Ms Beckingham's generation also paved the way for nursing and midwifery to move from hospital-based to university-based training.
"That saw the recognition of us as professionals in our own right," Ms Alder said.
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