April 25, 1916, saw the first Anzac Day commemoration as ceremonies across Australia as soldiers and nurses alike were recognised for their service at Gallipoli. 107 years on and Australian’s still recognise the day as a time to pay tribute to the brave members of our Defence Force who serve our country.
There were more than 3,000 civilian nurses who served in the First World War as part of the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) alongside nurses from Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), the Red Cross and privately funded hospitals.
Their service started a long history of inspiring nurses who have taken up the challenge to devote their lives to caring for those injured in conflict, living by the motto “service before self”.
Australian College of Nursing CEO Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN was in Canberra to participate in the Anzac Day March and attend the Dawn Service.
“I am honoured to have been invited to join my military colleagues in the Anzac Day March here in Canberra to recognise the ongoing service and sacrifice they make,” she said.
“Being a nurse means a life dedicated to service, and for those nurses who also commit to our Australian Defence Force there is another level of sacrifice entirely. Military Nurses are special humans who deserve to be recognised for the critical role they have played in our history.
“The bravery required to care for the wounded in some of the most inhospitable environments is tremendous.
“You don’t need to look far through the history of military nurses to find stories of nurses, injured themselves, finding ways to turn what they have at hand into a makeshift hospital, or who have sat with patients rather than being evacuated out of danger or warzones,” said Adjunct Professor Ward.
This year marks a significant milestone for military nurses, with the first statue to commemorate the service of an individual nurse to be installed on the ground of the Australian War Memorial, Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel AO, MBE, ARRC, ED, FNM, FRCNA.
“Anzac Day is also a reminder that nurses were casualties too. We have many fallen colleagues who embodied the Anzac spirit, and I am passionate that their legacy be remembered.
“The unveiling of the statue of Vivian Bullwinkel later this year in August will be accompanied by an announcement of 21 scholarships in the names of the nurses who were massacred beside Vivian on that grave day on Radji Beach in 1942. Vivian dedicated her life to ensuring they would not be forgotten, and we intend to carry on her work and legacy.
More information on the LTCOL Bullwinkel statue can be found here.