University of Hertfordshire

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Eureka Henrich - Speaker

This paper was sparked by a photograph which captures a consultation between a patient and a medical specialist in Sydney in 1961. Taken as part of the ‘Migrants in the Professions’ series by the Department of Immigration, ostensibly to promote the success of Australia’s post-war immigration programme, the photograph is also evidence of a paradox that the Department were not willing to confront: the ‘healthy new citizens’ they had screened and recruited came with their own health needs that could not simply be met by existing services.
The consultation in the photograph took place at the Migrant Medical Centre in Sydney’s King’s Cross, a practice staffed by a team of medical specialists, many of them migrants themselves. The initiative was a private, rather than a public one. All members of staff bar the receptionist (who spoke 8 languages) were volunteers, and the practice operated as a registered charity, filling a ‘vital community need’ for newly arrived migrants seeking medical advice and treatment, free of charge. This paper pieces together the Migrant Medical Centre’s founding in 1961 and the political maelstrom which accompanied its demise the following year. It argues that this small and radical experiment in migrant health provision warrants a closer look, and asks why, despite the evident demand for such a service, government departments at state and federal level declined to come to its aid.
5 Dec 2019

Event (Conference)

TitleBeyond Borders: Health and Medicine in Historical Context
Abbrev. TitleANZSHM Conference 2019
Web address (URL)
LocationUniversity of Auckland
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
Degree of recognitionInternational event

ID: 19545664