Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester is taking the opportunity today, on International Nurses Day, to recognise the contribution of nurses throughout our nation’s history.

While a key focus of our commemorations around Anzac and Remembrance Days is typically on the soldiers who have served under our nation’s flag, nurses have served for just as long – from the Boer War to the present day.

“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.

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 the SS Vyner Brooke and became one of the few survivors of the Bangka Island massacre before becoming a prisoner of war for three and a half years.

Many Dimboola locals may be familiar with the name Vyner Brooke, with one of our own – Matron Olive Dorothy Paschke – having met her early death after its sinking.

Mr Chester said that this story is just one great example that demonstrates the courage and bravery of our military nurses who have served our nation.

“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.”

Remebering the service of locals
Dimboola has seen a number of its daughters serve as nurses during wartime, with six names commemorated on the World War I Honour Roll at the Dimboola Memorial Secondary College as having served, and returned, from that conflict.

Matron Paschke is honoured on the World War II Honour Roll, as well as with a tree in the Avenue of Honour and with a memorial sundial at the top of the school’s oval.
Nurses commemorated at Dimboola Memorial Secondary College

WWI – Returned from Service
Sister Laycock
Sister D F McIntyre
Sister A E McIntyre
Sister T McLennan
Sister Robinson
Sister O Wiederman

WWII - In Memoriam
Matron Olive Dorothy Paschke (A.A.N.S.)