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Lillian Cooper and Josephine Bedford by John Earwaker

November 13, 2019 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

When Josephine Bedford and her companion Lilian Cooper arrived in Brisbane from London in 1891 they found a frontier town of some 50,000 people with a network of largely unsealed roads; poor sanitation; and 61 doctors. Lilian had been recruited at the request of the governor’s wife Lady Norman who had recognized the need for a female medical practitioner in the colony. They soon overcame the inherent prejudice to create a presence in the town. Lilian established her surgical reputation through her work as an Honorary MO to the hospitals in Brisbane whilst Josephine was passionate about family welfare and children’s development through her involvement with the Playground Association and the Crèche and Kindergarten Association, and with the Prevention of Cruelty. They made two return visits to England in 1904 and in 1911 via the USA; Josephine studying trends in animal and child welfare and the emergence of playgrounds and Lilian gaining further surgical experience at the Mayo Clinic; Chicago and London. In 1916 they volunteered for service in a field hospital on the front line in Serbia and remained for over a year Lilian as a surgeon and Josephine as an ambulance driver.  In late 1917 they returned to Brisbane ; Josephine to the responsibilities of her many committees and Lilian to resume her successful surgical career and to be elected to fellowship of the RACS; being the first female to be so recognized. In 1926 they relocated to live at Kangaroo Point. Following Lilian’s death Josephine bequeathed the property to the Sisters of Charity for the purpose of establishing a hospice. Mt Olivet now St Vincents Hospital and Marycrest Hostel stand as a lasting memorial to two truly remarkable women.

John Earwaker is a diagnostic radiologist.  He graduated in Medicine from UQ; trained in Radiology in Brisbane,  with postgraduate experience in Melbourne, London and Oslo. In 1974 he established a successful radiology practice: Queensland Medical Imaging, whilst also pursuing an academic career. He retired from that in 2004 to continue his academic pursuits initially as a Consultant Radiologist at the Mater Children’s Hospital and the Princess Alexandra Hospital. a post that he has held for the past 40 years which enables him to continue his interest  in the training of registrars. He is a Gold Medallist and Past president of the RANZCR. He is an Associate Professor of Radiology at UQ: an adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering Systems at QUT: and a Silver Medallist of the International Skeletal Society. His particular interests lie in Spinal; Musculoskeletal, and Paediatric Imaging. In recent years he has pursued an interest in silviculture. and he and his wife Libby have established a eucalyptus tree plantation near Gympie. This combined with his interest in history prompted a research project in the global “migration” of the species. Other various historical projects have included Alfred Nobel ; Fritjof Nansen: and the death of Napoleon



November 13, 2019
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


The Royal Historical Society of Queensland


Commissariat Store Museum
115 William St
Brisbane, 4000 Australia
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