Former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley is recovering from a nasty fall in Australia last week which left her upper arm shattered and requiring admission to hospital.

It meant she was unable to attend today's graduation of Police wing 315, of which she was patron.

She said she had been visiting her grandchildren in Sydney last week with her husband, Burton, when the accident happened.

She had been saying goodbye to son Ben and the family, she missed a step inside and fell onto a hard tiled floor.


"I've got a very spectacularly bruised face and eye and I've shattered the top part of my arm, the humerus, just up by the socket," she said.

"I'm just staying grounded for a few days and on some good quality drugs and I'm taking it quietly."

She said she had been to the Taronga Park Zoo before the accident.

"It couldn't have had a lovelier day but of course I got carted off in an ambulance and tested the Australian health system."

She was hospitalised and will be consulting a surgeon on Monday about what happens next.

"I'll have a quiet few weeks and having to behave myself."

Shipley said she had been persuaded by Police Commissioner Mike Bush to be patron of Wing 315, the first wing since 1982 in which women graduates outnumber men.

"I've had several visits with them and they are a terrific group," she said.


"It broke my heart to be honest, not to be able to go and celebrate with them but I sent a message which I understand has been read to them."

Shipley has four grandchildren, two in Australia and two in New Zealand.

Police Minister Stuart Nash acknowledged Shipley's mentoring role in his speech at the graduation of 78 constables today.

He said 42 of them, or 54 per cent, were women and 36 men and all had done a fantastic job after 16 weeks of intensive training.

He had been advised that the previous record of 51 per cent of women had been held a small recruit wing in 1982 when there were 12 women and 11 men.