Ruth was elected to the Tasmanian Legislative Council in the Parliament of Tasmania in 2005 to the seat of Murchison. She is the first woman to hold this seat. She has since been re-elected in 2011 (un-opposed) and in 2017. In 2017 she was elected to the position of Deputy President and Chair of Committees and has sat on and chaired a number of Parliamentary Committees over these years.

Ruth is currently Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Public Accounts, the Joint Sessional Committee on Gender and Equality, the Government Administration Committee A, Estimates Committee A and Government Business Scrutiny Committee A.

Ruth is a vocal advocate for North West Tasmania and regularly visits all parts of her large electorate. As a former nurse and midwife, she maintains a strong interest in health and access to health care. Ruth is also a strong advocate for women and supporting other women into and in leadership positions.

Ruth was born in Burnie in 1962. The second of four children of Margaret and Keith Emmerton, she was raised on a dairy, beef and potato growing farm at Riana and has lived on the North West Coast all her life. Ruth attended Riana Area School, Ulverstone High School and Hellyer College.

Further details regarding her education history are below.

Ruth has four wonderful children, Jane, Alan, Edward and Alyce and sons-in-law Kiran Forrest and Peter Forrest and daughters-in-law Clare Forrest and Lauren deBomford. She has four very gorgeous grandchildren.

Ruth worked as a nurse and midwife since commencing her General Nurse training in 1979 in Burnie until elected to the Legislative Council in 2005. Ruth lives in Wynyard and spends a lot of time traveling with her supportive husband and partner Rob Woolley within her electorate, including the municipalities of Circular Head, the West Coast, Waratah/Wynyard, and King Island.


  • 1968 – 1973 - Riana Area School – Primary School
  • 1974 - 1977 - Ulverstone High School – High School Certificate
  • 1978 - Hellyer College – Higher School Certificate
  • 14 February 1979 - 16 April 1982 - North Western General Hospital, Burnie - General Nurse Training
  • 24 October 1982 - 14 January 1983 - North Western General Hospital, Burnie - Intensive Care Course.
  • 14 February 1983- 25 February 1984 - North Western General Hospital, Burnie - Midwifery
  • November 1989 Family Planning Tasmania - Nurse Practitioner Theoretical Course in Family Planning Certificate - Result - Distinction
  • March 1994 - December 1994 - University of New England, University Partnerships - Armidale, New South Wales - Effective Antenatal Education - Certificate (result - High Distinction).
  • March 1998 Department of Health, Sexual Health Program. Tasmania - Approved Health Care Workers Course.
  • October 1999 National Association of Childbirth Educators Childbirth Educators - 4 Day Training Workshop.
  • October 2001 Nursing Board of Tasmania Approved Assessor, BSZ401A Plan Assessment, BSZ402A Conduct Assessment, BSZ403A Review Assessment, (Partial completion of BSZ40198 Certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training) DHHS
  • 2002 – 2010 - Masters Of Midwifery, Flinders University, Adelaide.
  • 2012 - Present - Graduate Certificate of Business, UTAS Cradle Coast Campus
  • GAICD at Australian Institute of Company Directors, Graduate at Tasmanian Leaders Program

On-going Professional Development

  • 2011 - Participant of the Tasmanian Leaders Inc Program


  • 7 May 2005 – Current - Independent Member of the Legislative Council, Parliament of Tasmania.
  • October 1988 – May 2005 – Registered Nurse/Midwife – North West private Hospital, Burnie.  I was employed as a Level 2 midwife and worked predominantly within a caseload model of care as a midwife.  I was the antenatal class co-ordinator and established the “Know Your Midwife/KYM” scheme.
  • August 2004 – May 2005 – Family Planning Tasmania, Clinical Nurse Educator.
  • February 1993 – May 2005 – Centacare Family Services, Family Life Educator providing sexuality education sessions to school students K-12.
  • 1988 – National Heart Foundation, Burnie Clinic Supervisor.
  • 1986 – 1989 – Childbirth Education Association Burnie, Midwife/Childbirth Educator.
  • 1984 – 1988 – North Western General Hospital, Burnie, Registered Nurse/Midwife.
  • 1982 – 1984 - North Western General Hospital, Burnie, Registered Nurse.

Professional - Midwifery Related

  • Member of inaugural North West Regional Working Group for Alternative Birthing
  • (October 1994).
  • Appointed to Council of Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity, August
  • 2001- 2005.
  • ACMI Representative on Midwifery Advisory Committee 2004 – 2005.
  • ACMI Representative on Statewide Women’s & Childrens Services Committee 2004 – 2005.
  • Nominee for the 1998 Tasmanian Awards for Excellence in Professional Nursing Practice.
  • Australian College of Midwives Inc. (ACMI) Tasmanian Branch member since 1989. Executive Member in roles of Publicity and Promotions Officer 1996 - 2000 and North West Area Representative 1997 - 2000
  • ACMI Tasmania Branch President August 2000 – September 2005.
  • ACMI Johnson’s Baby “Midwife of the Year” 2002.
  • Awarded with Fellowship of the Australian College of Midwives Incorporated September 2001.
  • National Association of Childbirth Educators Inc. (NACE Inc.) Member and Tasmanian Branch Executive Member - President (2002 - 2004), Secretary (1999 - 2002), State Representative/Delegate (2000 - 2003).
  • National Association of Childbirth Educators Inc. (NACE Inc.) Tasmania branch 2004 national conference convenor.
  • National Association of Childbirth Educators Inc. (NACE Inc.) Member of National Further Education Committee. (2000 - 2004)
  • Certified Advanced NACE Childbirth Educator 1999 - 2001.
  • Certified NACE Trainer of Childbirth Educators February 2001-2005.
  • Organise and coordinate and present at regular monthly to bimonthly Dinner
  • Meetings/Seminars in the North West Region for ACMI.

Papers Presented & Workshops Facilitated

  • Telling Stories” 9th NACE National Conference 2004, at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Launceston, Tasmania
  • “Caseload Midwifery: Review Of Current Model And Proposal For Improvement” ARCHI Toolkit Seminar, Improving the Clinical Management of Maternity Services at the Sheraton Southbank, Melbourne VIC.
  • “Caseload Midwifery Within a Team Midwifery Model: Proposal” ACMT Dinner meeting, November 12th 2003.
  • “Birth - an endurance event” at NACE Inc. National Conference 2002, Coogee, Sydney.
  • “Innovative Birth Options in Burnie” at ACMI National Biennial Conference
  • “Reflections”, Brisbane, September 2001.
  • "Antenatal Awareness of Postnatal Depression for Partners and Families” at Postnatal Disorders NW Tasmania Network forum “Postnatal Depression - Father’s and Family’s Experiences” November 30 2001.
  • " Pain Management in Labour. Presenting Pain Management Options Antenatally" on 29th May 2000.
  • “Innovative Presentation of Parenting Issues for New & Expectant Parents” on July 1st 2000.
  • A Midwife's Perspective" at A Postnatal Depression Community Forum in July 1999.
  • Co-facilitated 4 day Childbirth Educators Training Course with Bronny Handfield Grad Dip H & HR'Is, B Ed, M Ed, NACE Professional Development Officer and Past President NACE. October 1999.
  • Co-facilitated 2 day childbirth educators training workshops twice yearly with Jill Humann - NACE Inc. Certified trainer of childbirth educators, past president of NACE Inc. Tasmania branch.
  • Co-facilitated skill sharing workshops titled " Innovative Presentation of Parenting Issues for New & Expectant Parents" in July 2000 and "Presenting Unexpected Outcomes Antenatally. How & Why" in November 1999, with Jill Humann RN, RM, BA.
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