Nurses Memorial Candlelight Vigil
As we gather around this bronze depiction of a nurse treating an injured soldier it isn’t too hard, on the eve of ANZAC Day, to imagine the soothing touch and calming influence offered by this nurse to her patient.
Nurses embrace the act of compassion, caring for people they have never met and may never see again. They have a commitment to help anyone and everyone. Often it is when people are in their darkest hour.
For our military nurses this is a sacred bond. Delivering care when warriors have been broken and maimed serving their country. Offering reassurance and help in often highly stressful environments or through the loneliness of rehabilitation.
As patron of the Centuar Memorial Fund for Nurses I am inspired by the actions of Sister Ellen Savage.
The only nurse to survive the sinking of Australian hospital ship Centaur, after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine, 70 kilometres off Moreton Island.
Without essential medical supplies Sister Savage delivered aid to fellow survivors that clung to floating debris without giving any hint to her own significant injuries.
Her selflessness prevailed past the pain of broken bones and burst eardrums to provide constant care and encouragement until the 64 survivors were rescued 36 hours later.
Fittingly Sister Savage was awarded the George Medal for conspicuous courage. Her actions symbolised the courage of Australian women in the war.
The story of Sister Savage galvanized our country’s determination to win the war.
In 1943 the Centaur Memorial fund for nurses in Queensland raised 50 thousand pounds, in today’s language that would be the equivalent of 4 million dollars, so that the other 11 nurses who perished would not be forgotten.
Nurses are experts in the science of caring.
A nurse garners respect and confidence from those they care for, that is why their profession is consistently named as one of the most trusted vocations in the world.
Nurses who have served in uniform across all conflicts are honoured here tonight. To those who always put their patients first we say thank you.
And so, in this sacred place, we promise, always, We Will Remember Them.