Pioneering Neonatal Physiotherapist farewells Mater after 46 years

08/Jul/2022     HealthMater Group

Her colleagues call her the GOAT — the Greatest of All Time.

Neonatal Physiotherapist Catherine Bagley has quietly changed the world for children with disability not just in Australia, but world-wide, throughout her 50-year career.

“Cath is the personification of the Mater Values. She honours and promotes the dignity of human life and she always strives for excellence, and it’s just incredible to think of all the lives she has touched,” said Jenny Murphy, Physiotherapy Team Leader at Mater Hospital Brisbane.

When Cath first came to Mater Children’s Hospital in 1976, she was just four years out of university, but her dedication and desire to advance the industry had already piqued the interest of some strong influencers in the industry.

“We will be forever grateful that they steered her here to Mater!” she said.

Cath’s list of achievements is awe-inspiring — she was the first Neonatal Respiratory Physiotherapist appointed to a nursery in Australia and one of the nation’s first leaders in the evidence-based management of clubfoot. She went on to become an international trainer in Neonatal Physiotherapy and taught and treated children with neurological conditions in Russia.

Cath also volunteered extensively in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in North Queensland; conducted and published several clinical trials; and shared her extensive knowledge as a highly sought-after mentor, leader and teacher.

And that doesn’t include running her own private practice for several years while ’taking time off’ to have a family of her own!

But Cath said she’s been blessed to stand on the shoulders of giants and has nothing but the greatest praise and love for Mater, as she celebrates her last day before retirement.

“There’s something very, very special about Mater. It’s been my home since ’76, and I’ve stayed here because, wow, I could never have found a better place to spend my time and my career,” Cath said.

“There’s another dimension to the Mater and I know it came from the Sisters of Mercy, and even though there aren’t too many around today, I can tell you their spirit is still very obvious.

“And we have had so many visitors come from so many places and say the same thing, that there truly is something different about this place.

“It’s just been amazing.”

Image: Cath with former patient, businesswoman and disability advisor and advocate Laura Scurr, who travelled from Toowoomba to celebrate Cath’s retirement.

Public relations contacts

07 3163 6142