Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
NSWState RecipientSenior Australian of the Year2018
For more than 50 years, obstetrician Dr Catherine Hamlin has devoted herself to giving women in Africa a second chance at life. A surgical pioneer, Catherine and her late husband Dr Reginald Hamlin founded a network of six hospitals and a midwifery college in Ethiopia. The hospitals provide free fistula repair surgery to poor women suffering from horrendous and preventable childbirth injuries. The midwifery college trains midwives to prevent the injuries. When Catherine arrived in Ethiopia in 1959, there were almost no resources for expectant mothers. Since then she and her team have treated more than 50,000 women, restoring their health and dignity. Catherine’s organisation is a global centre of expertise in fistula repair and she trains surgeons from around the world. Through her foundation, Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia, Catherine is tackling a new fistula frontier, Uganda. Now 94 years old, Catherine remains active in her day-to-day work at the hospital, healing women through surgery, rehabilitation and counselling, so they can be whole again.