skip to navigation skip to content skip to footer

Rebekah Tomlinson - Navy nurse embraces Pacific partnership

Navy Nurse Lieutenant Rebekah Tomlinson has touched the hearts and minds of more than 200 knowledge hungry medical practitioners in Viet Nam as part of Pacific Partnership 14.

30-year-old Rebekah was one of 100 Australian, United States and Japanese medical experts involved in a diverse range of subject matter exchanges with Vietnamese health practitioners at Da Nang General Hospital, Military Hospital 17 and Da Nang Orthopaedic Hospital.

The Maranatha Christian College graduate said she thoroughly enjoyed her deployment to Viet Nam because the host nation medical practitioners had a great thirst for knowledge.  

"I have never seen people so hungry for knowledge that would enhance their capacity for providing medical treatment for patients," she said.

"The interaction was been phenomenal because they were so keen to learn and ask lots of questions about providing better treatment for their patients," she said.

Rebekah said she has been to seminars in Australia where people did not ask any questions about the topics presented.

"But at the hospitals in Da Nang it was really heart-warming to see how happy and enthusiastic the doctors and nurses were about improving their medical processes," she said.

Rebekah was part of the planning team that arrived in Da Dang in May for discussions with local health officials about Pacific Partnership 2014 and programs that would most benefit hospital staff.

"Pacific Partnership 14 was focused on enhancing the capability and knowledge of local medical practitioners, which is a more long term solution than what was done previously of directly treating patients for the two weeks we are here and then leaving," she said.

She said they conducted medical workshops in Viet Nam which served to enhance multinational crisis response capabilities in the Asia Pacific, which is one of the key aims of the annual Pacific Partnership activity.

When Rebekah returns home she will commence a six month posting as an instructor at the Army Medical School, before posting onto NUSHIP Adelaide, which has special significance for her Navy family.

"My father Chief Petty Officer Hugh Tomlinson was part of the crew that decommissioned the FFG, HMAS Adelaide, so it is a special treat for me to be one of the commissioning crew for the second LHD, which carries on the name and the traditions," she said.

Rebekah said joined the Navy in 2004 because she saw how much her father enjoyed his Navy career.

"We call Rockingham home, but I have lived everywhere in Australia, through Dad’s postings, so I have had the travel bug for many years," she said.

"Being in the Navy and part of the Pacific Partnership team enabled me to visit Viet Nam for the first time, which provided me with a greater insight into the local people and their culture, rather than coming here as a tourist."

Pacific Partnership is an annual event, designed to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance, and strengthen disaster response preparedness through closer regional cooperation.

Pacific Partnership began as a military-led humanitarian response to one of the world's most catastrophic natural disasters and was born out of the devastation wrought by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that swept through parts of Southeast Asia.