RECALLING her own experiences of conflict left Dr Jo Harding emotional as she spoke at Bendigo Senior Secondary College’s Anzac Day service on Wednesday.
The medical research scientist and former military nurse spoke to students, staff and special guests about what it meant to be a nurse in times of war, referring to her own time serving in such places as Rwanda and East Timor.
Dr Harding said being a military nurses was “ever so subtly different” to being a civilian nurse.
“To those we work with and for, it is entirely about context and professional identity,” she said.
“While nurses the world over deal with death and dying and grief in many different and difficult circumstances, this work and environment is unique; this patient’s death is different, because of the context.
“We wear the same uniform, we live in the same threatened environment, we endure the same living conditions, disease risks. These intangibles are what make each and every one of our patients, our family.”
Bendigo District RSL Sub-branch Cliff Richards also spoke at the service, saying that the day gave the community an opportunity to ensure independence and freedom continued to unite Australians, and commit to keeping Anzac traditions alive.
“Anzac Day is not a day for honouring war, for war is not something to be honoured,” he said.
“We do, however, honour the people of Australia who placed their lives at risk during the time of war and conflict.”
The service also included a performance of well-known ballad I Was Only 19 by students, and performances from the school’s choir.