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Dr Catherine Hamlin AC to be honoured on Sydney Harbour

Dr Catherine Hamlin AC
Dr Catherine Hamlin AC with some of the women she helped during her 60 years in Ethiopia.

Its official - the newest addition to Sydney’s ferry fleet will be named after Australian doctor and humanitarian, Dr Catherine Hamlin AC.

Almost 60 years ago Catherine Hamlin and her husband Reg travelled to Ethiopia.

An obstetrician-gynaecologist, it was here that they came across her first obstetric fistula patient and Catherine was deeply touched by what she saw. 

“She was sitting alone in our outpatient department away from the other patients and we knew that she was in more need than the others.

She had been through a long labour of five days with only the other women in the village to help. She was the first of many fistula sufferers we saw,” she remembered. 

Obstetric fistula is an injury suffered during childbirth that causes severe internal damage but is entirely preventable. 

Hamlin and her husband developed the modern surgical technique for obstetric fistula and established the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, a network of five regional hospitals and its flagship educational institution, the Hamlin College of mid-wives. 

"Dr Catherine Hamlin AC is an Australian icon. She believes in a world where all women are able to deliver their baby safely and where childbirth injuries are a thing of the past,” explained Carolyn Hardy, the CEO of the Hamlin Fistula Australia.  

“Catherine has dedicated almost 60 years of her life to Ethiopian women, working tirelessly to eradicate the most horrific type of childbirth injury, obstetric fistula. She has transformed the lives of 50,000 Ethiopian women and most importantly has restored their dignity. 

"Catherine was a Sydney girl and to name a Sydney Ferry after her is a wonderful way to celebrate this inspirational woman.” 

Catherine Hamlin will turn 93 in January and continues to live on the grounds of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. 

Australians can learn more about Catherine Hamlin’s life and support her work by visiting

The new ferry named in Catherine Hamlin’s honour will arrive in Sydney shortly before commencing passenger services in January 2017. 

The name suggested and voted on by the public as part of Transport for NSW’s Name Your Ferry competition. 

The remaining five names, as voted on by the public, will be revealed when the Catherine Hamlin is officially launched in January 2017. 

Read the media release. 

Last updated: 15 November 2016