A brand-new ferry bearing the name of beloved Australian gynaecologist and obstetrician Catherine Hamlin arrived yesterday in Sydney Harbour from Hobart, where the ship was built.

Catherine Hamlin is the first of of six prominent Australians whose lives and achievements will be celebrated on new ferries coming into service next year. More than 60,000 votes were cast on the final list of ferry names.

The remaining five winners will be revealed in January when these contemporary versions of the classic twin-hull ferry will begin serving routes in the inner harbour. The new ferries are sure to make known to a wider audience the name and work of inspiring Christian doctor Catherine Hamlin, who will turn 93 in January.

“I want to help these women. I know you would all be touched if you could see them in their plight.” – Catherine Hamlin

Almost 60 years ago, Catherine her husband, Reg, moved to Ethiopia to provide free obstetric fistula repair surgery to women who were ostracised after a difficult childbirth. Obstetric fistula is an entirely preventable childbirth injury, unknown in the Western World, that causes horrendous internal damage. When Catherine met her first obstetric fistula patient, she was deeply touched by her plight.

Reg died in 1993 but Catherine stayed on in Ethiopia, working tirelessly to transform the lives of more than 50,000 Ethiopian women and restore their dignity.

“It is really lovely to know that so many people have tremendous love for our work and for our patients,” said Catherine this week, in a statement about the ferry naming. “I hope that this will draw the attention of the world to this great need in Ethiopia for maternal healthcare.

“I want to help these women. I know you would all be touched if you could see them in their plight. Thank you for your support. Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia’s life-changing treatment is provided free of charge to patients, thanks to the generosity of donors around the world.”

NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance said: “We are honoured to name our first ferry after Dr Catherine Hamlin, a pioneer in Australian medicine. I hope we can all learn more about her amazing work as we travel across Sydney Harbour.”

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