Celebrating International Nurses Day in 2021

Have you heard of International Nurses Day? It’s held annually on 12 May, here’s everything you need to know!

12 May 2021 marks the 56th annual International Nurses Day, and there has never been a more important year to celebrate Australian nurses. As Australia begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions, we must give thanks to our nursing workforce who put their own health at risk to protect the greater Australian community. 

They are the unsung heroes of the medical industry, and on 12 May 2021, we will celebrate them. Find out more about International Nurses Day and meet some of our very own nursing heroes below.

Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

The History of Nurses Day

The first International Nurses Day was held on 12 May 1965. However, it wasn’t formally recognised until 1974. The date commemorates Florence Nightingale’s birth in 1820. 

Florence Nightingale is credited as the founder of modern nursing around the world. She fought during the 1800s to lift the standards of the nursing profession, increasing sanitary work practices, patient education and introducing ‘around-the-clock patient care’. She was the first woman to be given membership in the Royal Statistical Society, under Queen Victoria’s reign. 

International Nurses Day is now celebrated across the world, with many counties, including Australia, hosting awards for industry stand-outs.

Australian Nursing Heros 

1. Professor Kate Curtis 

Professor Kate Curtis was the 2019 winner of the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards. Playing a vital role in the development of the National Injury Prevention Strategy, she specialises in trauma and has spent most of her career advocating for the improvement of emergency hospital care across Australia.

“Emergency and trauma care is an opportunity to help people at the worst time of their lives. It’s also an opportunity to apply science and clinical skills to save lives,” said Kate, when interviewed by the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards

Kate is one of the most published Australian emergency trauma nurses, combining her clinical role and academic position to continuously undertake studies focusing on paediatric and emergency trauma care.


2. Steve Brown

Steve Brown is a mental health nurse in Victoria. His work in the implementation of the Police Ambulance Clinical Emergency Response (PACER) system was instrumental in earning him HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards 2014 Nurse of the Year. The system allows the inclusion of a mental health nurse to emergency call-outs related to mental illness — the first of its kind in Australia.

3. Gail Yarran

Gail Yarran is an elder and registered nurse in the Maternal Child Health unit at Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. The clinic focuses on delivering quality health care to Indigenous women and children in the area, who otherwise would not have access to stable health care. 

In 2018, Gail Yarran was awarded the HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards Nurse of the Year. After having witnessed the unjust treatment of many Indigenous Australians in the health care system early in her career, her passion for patient equality was ignited. Since then, Gail has dedicated her professional life to helping ‘close the gap’ in the healthcare system, improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children.  

She is also instrumental in local student nursing programs, often undertaking mentor roles. Gail also holds multiple health advisory roles within her community.

4. Tim Neate

Tim Neate was a 2013 HESTA Australian Nursing & Midwifery Awards finalist. Even though he does not lay claim to ‘Nurse of the Year’, his contribution to the industry and, most importantly, his local community is admirable.  

Managing the health issue for the homeless of inner city Sydney, Tim is known for his protection and promotion of the dignity of these vulnerable community members. His work often involved  working closely with those who have lost faith in the health-care system or fear medical treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing

How do you become a nurse in Australia? 

To become a registered nurse in Australia, you’ll require a TAFE or University education. To specialise in a field such as paediatrics, a bachelor’s degree with a graduate certificate in the desired field will be required. 

During your university education, expect to complete a lot of practical work. Most bachelor’s degrees require a minimum of 800 hours of practical experience. 


What is the theme of International Nurses Day 2021?

In 2021 the International Council of Nurses have decided to carry forward the 2020 theme of Nurses: A Voice to Lead, coupling it with a sub-theme for 2021 A Vision for Future Healthcare. This year the day will focus on how the pandemic has altered the industry and how it will impact the future of nursing. 

When is International Nurses Day? 

International Nurses Day is celebrated annually on 12 May around the world. 

What does a nurse do? 

The tasks a nurse undertakes in an average working day differs greatly depending on their area of expertise. However, the overall duty of a nurse is supporting senior health care workers in helping to bring patients back to health. They can be responsible for providing vaccinations in schools, making acute treatment decisions and general patient care amongst other duties. 

If there is a nurse in your life you’d like to celebrate, why not send them some flowers?

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      Katrina Stapleton

      Senior Digital Content Specialist

      Katrina Stapleton is a Senior Digital Content Specialist at Localsearch with a background in social media and marketing. Although most of her experience lies in the entertainment sector, Katrina has written content for a vast array of industries including tourism, hospitality, retail and property development. Katrina is an avid dog lover, who finds a way to weave her fur-baby, Mylo, into most conversations. Aside from being a self-confessed bookworm, Katrina can often be found checking out the Gold Coast's latest coffee nook, paddle-boarding or baking up a storm in her free time — all with Mylo by her side, of course! As a Senior Digital Content Specialist, Katrina enjoys sharing her knowledge and passions on the Localsearch Blog.