International Nurses Day 2023

From all of us to you – Thank you.

International Nurses Day on 12 May is celebrated each year on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, and is when we recognise the compassion, professionalism, and ongoing commitment of all nurses across the world.

Our Calvary nurses are there at every turn, making a difference in the care and the experience of our patients, residents, clients and their families and carers.

This year we’re sharing some of our nursing stories in recognition of the important role they have at Calvary.

Celebrating our nurses and midwives | Our stories

Jin Xie

You wouldn’t think there was any real association between the careers of journalism and nursing, but Jin Xie will tell you that at the heart of a nurse is a good communicator.

So when the now 34-year-old gave up a career as a journalist in China and moved to Australia to study nursing at the University of Tasmania, it was Calvary St Luke’s that became her new home and family.

“I wanted a bit of a change, and I wanted to explore and improve myself and I think nursing is a great career,” Jin said.

“I like communicating with people and I’m not bad at interacting with people, plus coming from China we are family-orientated so caring is natural and I had volunteered in a nursing home back in China, so it all seemed to suit my personality.”

In 2019, after a three-month course to bring her English up to speed, Jin began her studies in nursing at the University of Tasmania.

In 2022 she was accepted as a graduate nurse at Calvary St Luke’s and now the perioperative team are not just her workmates, but they are her family.

“The team here at St Luke’s are excellent professionals and as a graduate nurse you never feel alone. It’s a great learning place for a nursing student,” Jin said.

After her 12 month graduate year, Jin is a permanent member of the team in anaesthesia and recovery and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The people here at Calvary St Luke’s really care about you and as a Chinese woman with no family here they have really made me feel at home and part of a family,” she said.

“The support you get as a new nurse is great and I always feel like I’m learning from the experienced team and nurse educator Caroline.”

Jin said the career change had been the right decision for her and she encouraged people to consider nursing, especially if they wanted opportunities and flexibility.

This year Calvary Launceston had more than 140 applications for its nursing graduate program, and has appointed five nurses at St Vincent’s, three at St Luke’s and two in aged care. Another intake will be held in mid-2023.

Remy Peters

Remy Peters, who works at Calvary as a midwife, brings a particular perspective to their work. As an LGBTQIA person who is non-binary and Aboriginal, there’s a close link with several groups of people who find hospitals – and maternity wards – especially challenging.

Remy turned to midwifery when their then-partner, now wife, moved to Canberra to study environmental science. While they’d barely considered it during school, a passion grew quickly.

“Feminism and midwifery go hand in hand,” Remy says.

“Here in the maternity ward, you’re at the forefront of care and you can really make a big difference in somebody’s life. You’re essentially impacting generations to come through what could be a few months of interaction.”

Remy says that for many Aboriginal people, ancestral trauma is triggered when giving birth.

“It wasn’t that long ago that our grandparents were taken away, often at hospitals as they were born. It takes a lot of active work every day to make sure that you’re creating a safe space for Aboriginal women to come and give birth.

“There is a stigma around church and faith-based health care in general because they were a big part of the removal of children for decades.

“We have a team of Indigenous liaison officers here, and specifically a member of that team who works within maternity with every single pregnant person who identifies as Torres Strait or Aboriginal. We acknowledge they are never going to feel 100 per cent at home … so I’m establishing a relationship of trust even though they might feel freaked out.

“I’m essentially going to do my best to protect them from anything that may come their way.”

Read the full article on Remy’s story at The Rioact.


Chicku Gheevarghese

In 2011, junior nurse Chicku Gheevarghese attended his first work Christmas party at Calvary Adelaide Hospital and when asked to ‘bring a plate’, that’s exactly what he did. “I went to Kmart and turned up with an empty plate. I didn’t understand that in Australia that meant to bring food to share,” he laughed as he retold one of his earliest memories.

Today, Chicku is Clinical Nurse Manager of the angio intervention suite, managing 65 nurses, and say’s he can’t imagine working anywhere else.

 “I remember my first week of orientation at Calvary Adelaide. Everything was new. A new place, new people, and a new culture. I realised how significant this moment was in my life. However, the great thing about Calvary Adelaide is that it feels like being part of a family.” Chicku said.

 “I was happy being a registered nurse for the rest of my life, but I’ve had a great manager who recognised my skills and identified a pathway for me and supported my studies so I could have more opportunities.”

Chicku said life as a nurse in India was very different, working in intensive care in a hospital where he would be rostered on the night shift for 15 days in a row. This had had a huge impact on his own health and wellbeing.

The decision to move to Adelaide came after some friends suggested trying something new. After completing his three-month registration course to practice nursing in Australia and passing an English proficiency test, he followed his passion for intensive care and cardiac nursing, applying to Calvary Adelaide. “When I first started at Calvary I was working in a 37-bed cardiac unit, and now I’m managing a unit that covers cardiac, neuro, and vascular interventional treatment for people needing stents, angiograms, and stroke care,” he said.

Chicku met his wife in Adelaide and now a parent to two children. “Calvary is the institution I thank for giving me opportunities, supporting my study and shaping me into the person I am today, while enabling me to be a nurse who makes a positive change in people’s lives every day,” he said.

Liz Frederickson

As well as her role as Nurse Unit Manager at Calvary John James Hospital, Liz is also a serving member of the Air Force Reserves.

Liz joined the Reserves in 2007, with the ambition to perform humanitarian work within an organisation which provided safety.

During her service, Liz has deployed to numerous locations, including the Middle East, and brings a host of transferable skills from her military experience to her civilian role:

“My military experience has contributed to my ability as a leader and manager at Calvary John James Hospital. I have a very good understanding of both the tactical and strategic goings on within the hospital. I am overall very calm and am able to co-ordinate and delegate to my team.”

Mercy & Gonz

More than three years after COVID took hold and the world was turned upside down, Calvary nurses Mercy and Gonz Yap reflect on how their work was impacted, how family connections were strengthened and the importance of their strong Catholic faith.

Life changed for everyone when COVID was declared a pandemic in March 2020, but for frontline health professionals around the world it was a particularly challenging and frightening time. Not only were they caring for those who had contracted the virus and required hospitalisation, they were naturally concerned for their own health and that of their friends and families.


As television images of overcrowded wards and makeshift morgues filled our loungerooms in South Australia, Salisbury parishioners Mercy and Gonz Yap had good reason to be anxious.

The parents of three young adults, the Yaps are also nurses at Calvary North Adelaide.

“We were seeing those images from overseas…and we were praying to be safe and praying for our families – you couldn’t help but worry about them,” said Mercy.

“We were not only scared for our families but scared for our patients because they were vulnerable of catching it (COVID). And it was hard because we had to come to work and we were very exposed.”

With more than 30 years’ nursing experience in the Philippines, England and Adelaide since 2010, Gonz said wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and high grade masks was probably the “hardest thing” to do.

“It made it hard to breathe and my face would get boiling hot,” he said.

“Our nature of work is very fast paced and you tend to get thirsty; you couldn’t easily go and get a drink as you would have to take off your PPE or your mask.”

He added that it was also an isolating time as staff took their breaks separately as part of social distancing measures and likewise interactions with patients were limited.

“It was also very difficult for our patients who are deaf because they couldn’t lip read through the masks and shields,” Mercy said.

One of the positives from the experience was that it brought work colleagues closer together.

St Catherine Ward staff created a group chat so they could get in touch with each other, while St Clare Ward staff initiated cultural dinners as a way of getting together.

Mercy said there were a few Filipino nurses in St Catherine Ward and she bonded more with them during the pandemic as they discussed what was happening in their home country.

“We were interacting more and trying to reach out – asking how are you, how is your family? Checking in on each other, the workload, it brought everyone closer. We don’t only work here as workers, we’re a family and the important thing is our connection,” she said.

“It’s also brought some families closer together because they were seeing each other more often.”

The Church community also provided great support for the Yaps, with Mercy and Gonz agreeing their faith was a source of strength during the uncertain and constantly changing times of the pandemic.

Raised in a staunch Catholic family, Mercy has an older sibling who is a Sister of St Clare of Assisi in the Philippines. Her elderly mother attends Mass daily, although during COVID she had to learn about livestreams and Zoom.

Mercy is a commentator at Holy Family Church and together with Gonz they are the Couple Coordinator for Youth for Christ, one of the ministries of Couples for Christ.

“During COVID we had Zoom and online prayer meetings and everyone was so supportive,” she said.

“We help each other, we share each other’s experiences and we pray for each other.”

Calvary SA & NT Regional CEO, Sharon Kendall, commented that nurses such as Mercy and Gonz typified the extraordinary commitment Calvary staff have made to patient care during the pandemic.

“They truly demonstrate the values of Calvary which are hospitality, healing, stewardship and respect,” she said, adding that, “not all angels have wings”.

Story and photograph courtesy of The Southern Cross

Agil Abraham

Finalist | Calvary’s National Mary Potter Awards, recognising employees’ exceptional commitment and excellence.

Registered Nurse, Agil, has a unique and strong passion for nursing, his team and Calvary. For the past 11 years, he can be seen on the ward caring for patients, mentoring students and supporting staff with loving kindness. Agil has the gentlest soul of any nurse in the hospital, consistently demonstrating the values and mission of Calvary in every patient and colleague interaction. Student nurses have expressed their appreciation for the patient way he responds to questions, giving them time to think and allowing them to participate in nursing tasks making them feel a real part of the Calvary team.

Empathy and compassion are Agil’s greatest strengths – gifts that he brings to Calvary each and every day. He listens, acknowledges and responds to patient concerns appropriately ensuring all their needs are met. He models good time management and seeks to instill this in his team ensuring that he gives them the time they need and that they, in turn, make time to spend with patients and take time to document and prioritise tasks appropriately.

He leads by example, instructing staff in a quiet manner and his positive and professional attitude is contagious leading to a productive working environment that in turn increases patient satisfaction and safety. Agil identifies the goals of care for patients and works to ensure that patients have a positive experience – this has included putting rollers in a patient’s hair (not very well, but he tried), playing the ukulele for patients and staff, and on occasion facilitating visits by pets/puppies for palliative patients.

Liezel Fourie

Liezel Fourie, Clinical Manager, Milne Ward, Calvary Adelaide Hospital (CAH) and last year, was awarded the Catholic Health Australia’s Nurse of the Year 2022. The award honours an outstanding nurse, midwife or nursing team working in Catholic health and aged care services. It recognises the commitment of an individual nurse or team to serving patients/clients with respect and dignity while acknowledging their individual uniqueness.

Liezel has a long history working with dementia.

In 2017 she established a project for the management of delirium and dementia in patients in acute-care settings that enhanced the care environment, improved behaviour management, reduced the number of falls and increased engagement with the families of patients.

And in 2022 she was appointed as lead for CAH to undertake the dementia friendly gap analysis based on the NHS assessment tools.

Maxine Rennard

Maxine Rennard is celebrating her 40th year in nursing. Her impressive career is a testament to her passion for being for others.

Maxine’s nursing career began at Calvary Mater Hospital in Townsville. She ‘dabbled’ in a modelling career and was in several advertisements for the hospital, “I was the pin-up girl”, she laughed.

She then moved to Calvary John James Hospital in ACT (before it became a Calvary hospital), where she was a nurse superior. Her dedication to patient care is evident, “Nurses make a huge difference in the lives of clients, patients, and residents. To be a nurse is to nurture, and that’s what we do”, she said. This has been a guiding principle throughout her career.

Aside from nursing, Maxine is also a published author, having written two children’s books and is currently releasing more. Maxine’s creativity extends beyond literature as she is also an expert in hand embroidery. Having a penchant for fashion, she also has an extensive shoe collection that she colour-coordinates in her ‘bedroom size’ walk-in wardrobe.

Maxine spent some time volunteering in an orphanage in Kalimantan, Indonesia and living overseas. “Name any country, and I’ve been there.” She attests that lived experiences make us stronger and she is always searching for the next opportunity.

As Home Care Clinical Services Manager in the NSW/ACT, Maxine works with a team of Case Managers and Intake Coordinators to assist Calvary Home Care clients to live independently in the familiar surroundings of their own homes for as long as possible. One of Maxine’s rewarding aspects of her role is to work with clients to help them reach their goals and see the difference they make in their day-to-day over time.

Maxine is also passionate about working with her team and sharing knowledge. She encourages her team to be accepting and adaptable to change. “At Calvary, the support from the executive team really stands outs,” she said. She admires the people she works with and that Calvary is always accepting of others and embraces diversity.

Maxine’s dedication to patient care is commendable and sets an excellent example for all aspiring healthcare professionals.

On this day, International Nurses Day 2023, we applaud Maxine on her 40th year in nursing and thank her for her continued service and dedication to Calvary and the healthcare industry.


Could the next story be yours?

We’re always looking for like-minded healthcare professionals to join our growing team.

If you’re keen to be a part of a diverse and supportive workplace committed to providing compassionate, person-centered care, you’ll feel right at home at Calvary. What’s more, our national footprint and wide range of health services offers a wealth of opportunities for both personal and professional growth.

Explore our current nursing vacancies

Newly qualified?

We’re looking for exceptional graduate nurses and midwives across Australia to join our team and we’ll give you the best first-year Transition to Professional Practice development program in return!

Explore our Graduation Nurses Programs