The Shawcross Affair: Sex, Politics, and Madness in Western Australia, 1937-39

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In 1938, a Royal Commission in Perth began hearing evidence into the running of Heathcote Reception Home in Western Australia and its matron, Mildred Vernon Shawcross. Shawcross was accused of-among other things-undermining medical authority, being a drug addict, and having an illicit relationship with William Kitson, who as Western Australia's chief secretary was directly responsible for mental health services at ministerial level. The investigation reveals a number of fault-lines in the history of mental health care in Australia: the dynamic and hazardous relationship between medical and nursing authority; the conflict between general nursing and mental health nursing; and the role of personal relationships in governmental decision-making in small communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-71
Number of pages20
JournalHealth and History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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