Unsung heroes: Supporting the carers

Grace Gavin grew up on a property in central west NSW, where the nearest town had a total population of 600 people. Her dream was to become a nurse so that she could provide better healthcare to remote communities. Now, thanks to philanthropists Isaac and Susan Wakil, Grace can live in the heart of Sydney and study at the University of Sydney Nursing School.

“The impact of a Susan Wakil Scholarship is, for me, life-changing,” Grace says. “It makes my tertiary education possible and my career as a nurse achievable. I hope that upon finishing my degree I can return to rural or regional Australia to help improve access to forms of healthcare that are not readily available. I want to be a nurse who provides care and support to people in need.”

The Wakils, through their extraordinary generosity, have recognised the heroic, often overlooked work that nurses perform every day. From juggling the complex needs of patients, to managing busy hospitals and health facilities, nurses are the linchpin of the health system.

However, current workforce predictions for 2025 point to significant skill shortages in the profession. This is why a major focus for the faculty is to prepare Australia’s nurses for the demands of contemporary healthcare and to reconceptualise the industry.

It’s a vision that resonated with the Wakils. The couple made history in May 2015 when they donated more than $10.8 million to Sydney Nursing School, the largest ever gift to a nursing school in Australia.

The Susan Wakil Scholarships will be awarded to 12 nursing students annually in perpetuity. These scholarships will assist students such as Grace to meet study, tuition and accommodation expenses.

Grace knows that the scholarship is more than just financial support. “It will help me to achieve all my career aspirations and for that I will be forever grateful,” she says.