NAVAL nurse Amy York has been awarded the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia.
Originally from Bendigo, Ms York said she was thrilled to receive the award that recognises outstanding service to Australia.
"I'm honoured, I'm overwhelmed ... I'd say overwhelmed is the biggest emotion," she said.
"It's kind of mind-blowing and surreal to think you're receiving such an honour. Mum was ecstatic for me."
Ms York, 34, joined the navy in 2004 and she is based at the HMAS Cerberus naval base in the Mornington Peninsula for most of the year.
There, she leads a team of 50 people in the Personnel Support Unit, which is responsible for managing the welfare of navy officers who have personal or medical issues.
But her job has also taken her to Banda Aceh, Padang in Indonesia and Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Ms York was deployed to Banda Aceh following the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and the experience was heart-wrenching, she said.
"People were trying to cope with their world falling apart," she said.
But she said the presence of the Australian Navy provided hope to the local people and knowledge they weren't alone.
She said her deployments overseas made her feel lucky to live in Australia.
"Seeing the poverty of some of the Indonesian people was just unbelievable," Ms York said.
"It was very interesting to see that they get by with so little but they're still happy with what they've got."
While overseas Ms York worked as a peri-operative nurse, assisting surgeons.
Ms York was born in Bendigo and has three brothers and three sisters.
She attended St Therese's Primary School in Kennington, went to secondary school at Catholic College Bendigo and completed her nursing degree at La Trobe University.
Ms York said she nursing was a natural fit for her.
"I always knew my strength was in caring for people," she said.
Ms York spent the first few years of her career working at Bendigo Health and The Alfred, but in 2004 she wanted an extra challenge.
“On a day to day basis it’s clinical nursing but you also need leadership and management skills and need to understand the wide variety of policy of the navy," she said of her position in the navy.
She credits her mother Julie O'Keefe as her role model.
"She's such a strong woman," Ms York said.
"If something needs to be done or she wants to do something she does it.
"She taught me that the only thing that stands in your way is you."
Ms York is also the proud mother of Isabel, 7.