New opportunities for emerging nursing leaders


Six registered nurses based in rural Australia have been given the opportunity to lead change and further their careers through scholarships from the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) and Bupa. 

The scholarships form part of a broader project honouring Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel AO, MBE, ARRC, ED, FNM, FRCNA, an Australian Army nurse during the Second World War who was the sole surviving nurse of the Bangka Island Massacre in 1942.

Each scholarship recipient will receive full tuition, valued at $10,000 each, for the Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program delivered by the ACN along with associated travel and accommodation costs.

 Scholarship recipients:

·       Carolyn Alkemade (Bairnsdale, Victoria)

·       Dr Sarah Smith MACN (Ulladulla, NSW)

·       Ashley Pannet (Big Grove, WA)

·       Michelle Wealands (Bairnsdale, Victoria)

·       Mandy Clayton (Bright, Victoria)

·       Catherine Jurd (Kingaroy, Queensland)

The rural nurse scholarships have been offered in recognition of Sister Nancy Harris and Sister Mary Eleanor McGlade, two nurses who were amongst the 21 victims of the Bangka Island serving alongside Vivian Bullwinkel.

Acting ACN CEO Yvonne Mckinlay FACN said each of these nurses is firmly dedicated to improving the health of vulnerable Australians in rural areas and reducing the health inequalities they face.

“They are using their skills and expertise to care for those who need it most, just like Sisters McGlade and Harris did during their nursing careers.

“Choosing to become a nurse is a commitment to a journey of lifelong learning and development. I look forward to hearing how the recipients use the skills they gain during the Mid-Career Nurse Leadership Program to give back to consumers in their local communities. I would also like to thank Bupa for their support and investment in nurse leadership,” said Ms Mckinlay.

Bupa, who employs nurses across its diverse Australian businesses, provided funding for the 2022 scholarships. Bupa also operates as the health care partner for the Australian Defence Forces (ADF), supporting the delivery of end-to-end health care to Defence personnel.

Dr Ros Blakley, Bupa’s ADF Health Services Director and veteran, said she was delighted to honour Vivian Bullwinkel’s legacy in this way.

“Vivian Bullwinkel was an extraordinary woman and nurse who leaves a powerful legacy. I’m delighted that Bupa can honour her memory by investing in the leadership skills of nurses who play, and have always played, a critical role in the Australian health system.

“The scholarship winners span a range of important nursing roles in rural and regional communities while showing exceptional talent, dedication and persistence in their careers to date and we look forward to following their careers as they explore new and rewarding opportunities,” Dr Blakley said.

For more information on ACN scholarships visit here

For information on Bupa’s health services visit here