Anne Carey, Barbara McMaster, Catherine Salmon, Catherine Fry and Ruth Jebb were presented the prestigious award – the International Red Cross’ highest honour – at Government House in Canberra by His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
“Your determination to change lives is the hallmark of not just your careers, but also your lives. Ultimately yours is a human pursuit and it is your humanity, selflessness, courage and compassion that we are here to recognise,” said the Governor-General.
All five recipients have worked in complex and dangerous environments from South Sudan to Yemen to Sierra Leone to Afghanistan.
"Our Australian Red Cross nurses have played a critical role in responding to some of the world's biggest emergencies. They have helped children survive horrific injuries caused by weapons, cared for patients suffering with Ebola and saved lives with education on hygiene and disease prevention. They're colleagues or mentors to local health workers, often working under difficult and dangerous conditions" said Peter Walton, Director, International at Australian Red Cross.
Anne Carey is a nurse who joined the Red Cross effort to contain the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone. She has also worked in Darfur, Sudan and in a refugee camp on the Sudan/Kenya border.
Barbara McMaster and Catherine Salmon both worked as a surgical and head nurse providing critical care in some of the world's toughest armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan and Yemen.
Catherine Fry coordinated health care for children and their mothers in Darfur, Sudan. On top of providing health care across frontlines, Catherine also played a critical teaching role in her missions, including in Liberia, Uganda and Afghanistan.
Ruth Jebb has coordinated a feeding clinic for thousands of malnourished children in Sudan and provided midwifery and intensive care in Cambodia and Chad, along with disaster relief after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Ruth also helped tend to injured and ill people after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.
“For each of us, the time will come when we look back on our careers and our lives. We will reflect on what we have done. The decisions and choices we have made. We will think about our legacy, our contribution to others, to our families, our community and the world,” the Governor-General said at the awards.
“For our Florence Nightingale Medal recipients, you will reflect with a pride greater than most. Because you have made a difference. These medals are testament to that.”