AIF Malaya Nursing Scholarship

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Red Cross Headquarters in Perth was recently the venue for a particularly special ceremony.

Singaporean nurse, Miss Sze En-Tay celebrated the completion of the nursing course - the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) - at Curtin University, and ended her term as the latest recipient of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) Malaya Nursing Scholarship.

Sze performed very well in her studies, played an active part in campus activities, participated in a variety of Red Cross activities, and contributed to the community via volunteer work.

On life in Australia, Sze commented that her time here has been a “life-changing experience" and that she had been struck by the Australian spirit of giving.

On an environmental note, Sze has been delighted with the weather, and the “loveliness of sunsets".

In terms of the Veteran community, Sze has been touched by the way Veterans receive acknowledgement and gratitude from the community.

The AIF Malaya Nursing Scholarship is the official War Memorial of the 8th Australian Division and the AIF Malaya.

This unique “living" memorial pays on-going and fitting tribute to the men of the AIF who served and perished in Malaya and Singapore and, in a tangible and permanent form, it shows how greatly the men of the AIF Malaya appreciated the help and friendship of the people of Malaya and Singapore who, at great risk to themselves, performed so many acts of kindness for the benefit of the Australian prisoners of war.

The fund was set up in 1946 with soldiers from 8th Division and AIF Malaya subscribing directly to the fund.

The Australian Red Cross also provided a significant initial contribution and has provided Trustee and administrative support since its inception.

Since its inception, the Scholarship has provided training to over sixty five nurses from both Singapore and Malaysia.

The nursing training provided by the Scholarship has changed over the years in line with the changes in the nursing profession. For over twenty five years now, Curtin University in Western Australia has contributed to the scholarship in the form of tuition fees for recipients, and provided invaluable support to the students.

Guests at this year’s event included AIF Scholarship Board Chairman, Major General (Ret.) Mike O’Brien, and other Board Members; Professor Phill Della, from Curtin, Ms Sharon Maclean (Lecturer in Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine), and other Curtin staff; representatives from the Australian Defence Force; representatives of Fremantle Legacy; representatives of Australian Red Cross, including Mrs Di Buckles (Chairman of Red Cross in WA), and Mr Abdul Hadi Mustaffa, representing the Consul General of Malaysia.

General O’Brien commented that the longevity of this living memorial was testament to the foresight in its establishment, and its value to recipients, and in forging healthy relationships between Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Ms Sarah Fulford provided an enthralling account of survival, resilience and courage, as she described the wartime journey of those nurses who survived the sinking of the ship “Vyner Brooke" as they attempted to escape a beleaguered Singapore.

Further information on the Scholarship is available from Ms Sheila Rod, at Australian Red Cross, on (08) 9225 1905.

Photo 1: Graduate 2017 Miss Sze En Tay Photo 2: [L-R] Ms Cheryle Poultney, Ms Sarah Fulford, Miss Sze En Tay (Graduate 2017), Maj Gen (Ret.) Mike O'Brien (Chair) Lt Col (Ret.) Kevin Poynton (Deputy Chair) and Mr Abdul Hadi Mustaffa (Representing Consul General of Malaysia).