National Trust of Australia Heritage Festival
Peter Hobbins (Department of History)
Presentations at the Saumarez Commemorative Conference:
Healthy troops for a healthy nation
World War I was not only a time of mass death and maiming; it also witnessed tremendous improvements in medical care for large populations. This presentation discusses how the medical lessons of the war translated into positive developments for the health of Australians after the Armistice. Pioneered by the Australian Army Medical Corps, the Australian Army Nursing Service and the Repatriation Department, innovations ranged from occupational therapy to compulsory immunisation against epidemic diseases. Perhaps the greatest change of all, however, was the new-found willingness of governments to replace community and charitable groups as our major healthcare providers.
An intimate pandemic: the influenza scourge of 1919
Killing up to 100 million people in just two years, the pandemic of pneumonic or ‘Spanish’ influenza added enormously to global suffering at the end of World War I. Although at first Australia seemed to escape this disease, when the flu broke out of quarantine in January 1919 it infected a third of our entire population. With 6000 deaths in New South Wales alone, almost every locality was affected by illness, fear, mourning and a breakdown in social services. Yet 1919 also witnessed extraordinary acts of kindness and public spirit in the shadow of the war. Indeed, from cemeteries to family photo albums, the pandemic’s intimate impact can still be felt in many communities today.
230 Saumarez Rd,