A former north west Queensland nurse and midwife, who had worked in some of the world’s worst conflict zones has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal, in the Australia Day awards.
Noela Davies, formerly of Mount Isa and most recently of Doomadgee, now works as a disease control public health nurse in Tennant Creek and this weeks she was honoured for her work when she won the OAM for service to nursing, and to international humanitarian healthcare programs.
In fact there is very little in the world of nursing Ms Davies hasn’t done, having also served as a director of nursing at Birdsville as well as major tours of duty in several war-torn countries.
“I’ve spent quite a bit of time working overseas and also working with, in or for Aboriginal communities,” Ms Davies said.
In Isa Ms Davies was a primary heath care nurse for Mount Isa’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.
She was here in 2011 when she was awarded the Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medal.
“It is nursing’s highest honour and for me it was for working in countries of conflict,” she said.
“I was a medivac nurse in South Sudan so I used to evacuate and repatriate war wounded into northern Kenya, and I’ve also worked in Darfur, East Timor, Liberia and Afghanistan.”
Her decade-long journey as an international aid worker providing health care to civilians and armed forces in war-torn countries began when she was visiting one of her brothers in Papua New Guinea.
It was there in 1993 that the Bundaberg-trained nurse witnessed an immunisation clinic for tribespeople. “I was there and all of a sudden here were all of these people lined up in the sun, men, women and children all waiting to be immunised,” she said. “There was no fighting, no pushing or shoving. There was just a sea of people grateful for the service.”
Then working for the Royal Brisbane Hospital she said the experience changed her perception on delivering health care.
It would be another six years working in remote clinics in the NT before Ms Davies applied to the International Committee of the Red Cross and completed her basic training course.
Almost immediately afterwards she was given her first mission at a surgical hospital in northern Kenya where she worked in emergency.