The Australian Red Cross in Action

The Australian Red Cross in Action
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Nurses from the Australian Red Cross serve tea and refreshments to returned soldiers, including those injured and in convalescence.

The Australian Red Cross Society was formed by Lady Helen Munro-Ferguson, the wife of the then Governor-General, in August 1914. But the work of the Red Cross didn’t end with the cessation of the war as large numbers of returned service personnel required ongoing support and care.

A range of Red Cross programs assisted in soldiers’ rehabilitation and convalescence. Examples included setting up kitchens to supply groceries during the 1919 influenza epidemic, making and distributing clothing for those in need, and even providing specialised motorcycles to men with permanent disabilities to encourage their independence through improved mobility. They also helped soldiers to reintegrate into society by teaching them skills such as dairy and poultry farming and finding them factory work.

The Red Cross also offered comfort and material support to the dependants of returned soldiers in hospital, as well as to families of the deceased and prisoners of war. The Red Cross nurses selflessly visited the men in hospital even when it was at risk to their own health.