Media Release – Office of the Hon. Darren Chester, Canberra ACT.

TODAY on International Nurses Day, we recognise and celebrate the important contribution of nurses to the safety and prosperity of our country through times of conflict and in peacetime.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester said for as long as Australians have served in combat, from the Boer War to present day, there have been nurses right behind them caring for those in need and saving many lives.
“More than 8,000 nurses served in the two World Wars in hospitals, on hospital ships and trains, or in casualty clearing stations closer to the front line. Sadly, 103 died across the two wars,” Mr Chester said.

Sister O’Meara’s
Her uniform represents the ‘working dress’ of the Australian Army Nursing Service and includes zephyr grey dress with white collar, white veil and scarlet cape; her rank of Sister is shown by the stars or ‘pips’ worn on her epaulettes, which are accompanied by curved bronze ‘AUSTRALIA’ titles. She wears the Rising Sun badge at her throat as a brooch and the cloth badge of the Australian Army Nursing Service is displayed on her right sleeve.

Many nurses experienced enemy action and became prisoners of war, with the most well-known nurse being Sister Vivian Bullwinkel. In 1942 Vivian Bullwinkel survived the sinking of SS Vyner Brooke and became one of the few survivors of Bangka Island massacre before becoming a prisoner of war for three and a half years.

“Vivian’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the courage and bravery of our military nurses who sacrifice much to serve our nation,” Mr Chester said.

“Since the formation of the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1903, the Australian military has relied on the work done by military nurses, with more than 800 nurses currently serving in the Australian Defence Force, in either a full-time or reserve capacity.

“Today, as our country faces a significant health crisis, our military nurses are also supporting the domestic healthcare effort to combat coronavirus, with 26 military nurses currently deployed.

“On International Nurses Day, I encourage all Australians to take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of Australia’s military nurses throughout our nation’s history. Thank you for your service.”

The volunteer nurses who served with the Australian Imperial Force during the Great War of 1914-1918 saved lives and gave hope to our diggers. They are remembered and revered for their skills, courage and selfless dedication.

For more amazing collectibles and memorabilia visit – Military Shop

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF
personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546)
or visit



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