What eventually came to be known as the Royal Australian Nursing Federation was formed in 1924 as an unincorporated association of the various Australasian Trained Nurses' Association state 'branches' and the Royal Victorian Trained Nurses' Association. Originally it was known as the Australian Nursing Federation. While concerned with protecting the interests of nurses, its initial focus was maintaining professional standards. It was not until 1949 that it began to funciton as a trade union.
In 1955 the federation was granted use of the royal prefix. In 1970 the Royal Australian Nursing Federation, as it was then known, was dissolved and its professional objectives were assumed by the other federally registered nurses organisation- the Australian Nursing Federation Employees' Section.