Almost 2000 young people gathered in the Ulumbarra Theatre and foyer on Wednesday to participate with local dignitaries, alumni, and returned servicemen and women in BSSC’s annual ANZAC ceremony.

The moving ceremony was led by members of Student Council and, fittingly, honoured people whose war experience occurred when they were a similar age to the students attending. This was reinforced by the performance of John Schuman’s ‘I was only 19’.

Local RSL President, Cliff Richards, noted that ANZAC day is “not about honouring war, for war is not something to be honoured”.

“We do, however, honour those who placed their lives at risk during a time of conflict, ” he said.

Guest speaker, nurse, military health professional, lecturer and researcher, Dr Jo Harding, reinforced this as she spoke about her experiences in field hospitals.

Dr Harding completed a PhD on the bio-physics of explosives, seeking better outcomes for people injured.

“Being a critical care nurse in a war zone means that you share the same conditions, uniform and threats as your patients and colleagues,” she said.

“It’s not always hard, all the time, but sometimes it can take you to the very edge.”

Jo and the team she served with in Rwanda were almost overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the number of people severely injured.

She remembered one young soldier dying in Timor, and spoke about staff sitting with him, “so he would not be alone and his mum and dad could be comforted by that thought.”

Jo noted how military nurses have had such an important role in the quest to improve survival rates and outcomes for people injured in war—as she has done through her practical involvement and important research.