Army Reserve nursing officer Robyn Hanckel (left) at yesterday’s presentation with Capt Warren Walsh, of Lismore’s 41st Battalion, and Deborah Lewis, St Vincent’s Hospital director of clinical services.
Army Reserve nursing officer Robyn Hanckel (left) at yesterday’s presentation with Capt Warren Walsh, of Lismore’s 41st Battalion, and Deborah Lewis, St Vincent’s Hospital director of clinical services. Jacklyn Wagner

Army nurse's juggling act

FROM nursing massacre victims in Rwanda to volunteering during the Fiji unrest, nurse Robyn Hanckel has done her fair share of emergency relief work.

Yet the Army Reserve registered nurse could not have volunteered her skills without support from her Lismore employer, St Vincent’s Hospital, which was presented with an Employer Support Award yesterday on behalf of the Australian Defence Force.

Mrs Hanckel has been juggling 20 years of defence force involvement with a 10-year career at St Vincent’s, and in doing so has helped thousands of people nationally and worldwide.

“I joined the Australian Army in 1988, then the Reserves 10 years later, and in 2005 I realised they needed people with my knowledge for deployment,” she said.

“Since then I have been involved with organising medical supplies, and deployment overseas and within Australia.

“It is sometimes difficult juggling my nursing job at St Vincent’s and my role as a Reserve member, but St Vincent’s is very flexible.”

Nicknamed ‘Sergeant Major’ by her hospital colleagues, the Casino resident’s role with the defence force has put her in some tough situations.

“I was looking after a little boy in a Rwandan hospital whose mother had told him to run away, and soon after his whole family was massacred,” she said. “Instead of waking up in hospital alone and frightened, he jumped up and cuddled me.

“It’s experiences like this that make it worthwhile, and makes me realise how lucky I am to live in Australia.”

The annual Employer Support Awards are part of a nationwide program to recognise businesses whose policies enable employees to partake in defence force deployment and activities.



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