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Queensland chapter Boardroom Series Lunch

Brisbane, 6 June 2019

Words: SWL Member, Amanda Tetley. Photos: Bianca Nedimovic.

The first SWL Boardroom Series Lunch for the year was generously sponsored by NAB Private at their Brisbane office on 6 June. 24 SWL members and their guests, including Founding Member Danni Murray and Chair Anita Pahor from interstate, attended the beautiful lunch and were privileged to hear the amazing story of Anne Maria Carey, Red Cross International Aid Worker, Florence Nightingale Medal recipient and previous WA Australian of the Year.

Anne trained as a nurse and midwife in the 1980s and following her studies  immediately travelled to the remote villages of PNG. There she battled malaria alongside the trials of providing the most basic of health services to women and their families in some of the most difficult terrain on the planet. 

After completing more post graduate training and working in various missions in both Australian and overseas posts for the Red Cross, Anne became a member of the team in the Gereida camp in Dafour in Southern Sudan during the civil war. This camp swelled to over 500,000 refugees trying to escape the violence. It was the largest camp of its kind at the time and the armed attacks were so fierce that other agencies withdrew their personnel for their safety. But Anne and the Red Cross remained and continued to provide humanitarian support. As world attention was focussed on their bravery and the dreadful plight of this population the warring military forces agreed to cease further attacks on this camp.

Returning back to Australia and working again as a midwife in WA, Anne responded to the call for health workers to join the Red Cross in establishing treatment centres to combat the Ebola epidemic raging in Western Africa in 2014. She was sent to Sierra Leone during the height of the epidemic staying for 6 months when most workers only did 1-2 months. She remained to assist in the recovery phase and educating the local health workers to enable the community to emerge from this most dreadful of scourges.

Her quiet demeanour and humility captivated her audience whilst she described the conditions that she and her fellow workers endured to provide life saving help and support. Anne’s philosophy and mantra throughout these most challenging of periods was “to overcome fear and have the courage to be kind.”

We thank Anne and the team at NAB Private for giving SWL members and their guests an opportunity of a lifetime.

Anne’s story is the very reason the members of SWL continue their philanthropy and we will long remember her mantra as we strive to also have the courage to be kind in our daily interactions.