Nursing scholarship supports closing the gap in immunisation

The Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship is a unique opportunity for nurses in Victoria, and plays an important role in The Royal Children’s Hospital’s (RCH) vision to lead the way in paediatric health care.

Each year, the $50,000 scholarship allows one outstanding nurse to develop skills and experience by exploring innovative practices and models of care across Australia and internationally.

Dame Elisabeth generously gave her name in perpetuity in support of this scholarship and the advancement of nursing at the RCH.

Dame Elisabeth’s commitment to the care, health and well-being of the children of Victoria was an inspiration to many including her daughter, Janet Calvert-Jones. Janet shares her mother’s incredible passion for the future of children’s health and graciously agreed to be Patron of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship Luncheon.

2019 recipient: Sonja Elia

Since joining The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) in 1997, Sonja Elia has gone from strength to strength. After choosing to specialise in immunisation in 2003, Sonja became an integral part of the RCH’s Immunisation Clinic, and in 2017 she became Victoria’s first Nurse Practitioner in the field of Immunisation. Thanks to support from the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, Sonja will dedicate to her expertise to support some of Australia’s most at risks communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children.

The delivery of successful immunisation programs within Indigenous communities depends on culturally appropriate health services. Sonja hopes to close the gap and make lasting changes to improve Indigenous immunisation for the long term.

“This scholarship enables me to travel overseas and present data at international conferences on current immunisation rates for Indigenous children at RCH, as well as learn from colleagues strategies to improve this work. Protecting all children from vaccine preventable disease such as measles and whooping cough is important, and particularly significant for vulnerable patients”, said Sonja.

“I feel extremely privileged to have this opportunity, not only the prestige of being awarded the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, but to be able to make a difference to Indigenous children’s health. I am incredibly passionate about immunisation as well as the advancement of my skills, and this scholarship enables me to improve both”

You can learn more about Sonja’s work and the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship at this year’s fundraising luncheon.