Lecture Series

Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the 20th century in Australia by Alan Hewson

The care of women is seen as critical to the survival of humanity but many historians fail to give this subject a high priority. Based on the experience of a practising obstetrician, this major review aims to remedy that deficiency. There was a marked increase in knowledge in medicine after World War Two, resulting in a dramatic improvement in safety for mothers and babies, as well as life-saving advances in the discipline. The rapid changes in Australian society had a substantial impact on obstetrics and its practitioners, necessitating adjustments in mindset and practice of the older generations of obstetricians to the confronting social and cultural issues of the 1960s and beyond. Many of the controversies explored have a long history, and include the background of role delineation in the discipline, the increasing impact of legal issues, the feminist debate, the changing site of delivery, and interventions in obstetrics. But the growing awareness of ethical dilemmas, obligatory continuing professional development and bureaucratic intrusion into practice are also needed, and will be included in a book to be published arising out of the original thesis.

Alan Hewson AM was born in 1927 in Lisarow, NSW. After graduating from the University of Sydney in 1952 and general training at Royal Newcastle Hospital, he trained inAlanHewson obstetrics and gynaecology in Tasmania and Oxford, and later in Edinburgh, entering private and public practice in Newcastle in 1958. He served on the Council of the RACOG from 1981 to 1993 and chaired the Education Committee which developed the obligatory CME programme of the College, for which he was awarded the Gold Medal of the RACOG. He has contributed extensively to the medical literature on both general and gynaecological topics and lectured extensively internationally on medical education. After retirement in 2012, he completed a PhD in obstetric and gynaecological history in Australia from 1950 to 2010. 



Lives, Love and Loathing at Crown Street by Judith Godden

Crown Street Women's Hospital, 1893-1983, was the largest women's hospital in NSW. Located in the heart of Surry Hills, it was a referral hospital for women throughout the State and a leading teaching centre for obstetricians and midwives. Affectionately known as 'Crown Street', an essential part of its role was caring for the poorest and most marginalised women in Sydney.

Crown Street became internationally famous after its success eliminating eclampsia, a major cause of maternal death. It was the centre of the thalidomide scandal and renowned for its care of sick and premature newborn babies. From its first years, it sheltered homeless pregnant women; its later practices contributed to the grief of forced adoptions. It was where a stream of women went after botched illegal abortions. In its final years, its Birth Centre revolutionised birth practices in Australia. The announcement of Crown Street's closure resulted in emotional outpouring as well demonstrations in the streets. This talk reveals why Crown Street's 90 years had such a powerful impact on so many – and focuses on the key question: Why remember Crown Street Women's Hospital?  

Judith Godden is a freelance historian specialising in the history of healthcare. She is a former academic at the University of Sydney and an Honorary Associate in its Department of History. She is currently writing her sixth book, the history of Aftercare, the longest serving mental health organisation in Australia. Copies of her Crown Street book will be available for sale at her talk.













Date: Sunday, 7 May 2017
Time: 2 - 4 pm
Address: A2 Function Room, Q Station Sydney Harbour National Park - Manly at 1 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly NSW 2095
Cost: Free - RSVPs essential

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