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Controlling the ‘Invasion’: The Commonwealth Alien Doctors Board and Medical Migrants in Australia, 1942–46


Gabrielle Wolf

In the 1930s, authorities that represented and registered Australia’s medical profession sought to prevent doctors who had escaped Nazi-occupied Europe and immigrated to Australia from practising medicine. Doctors John Newman-Morris, Robert Wade and John Cumpston played prominent roles in those bodies. In 1942, however, these men were appointed to the Commonwealth Alien Doctors Board (‘CADB’), a statutory authority that was created to grant so-called ‘alien doctors’ licences to practise medicine during World War II. Nevertheless, this article argues that the CADB and its work did not reflect a significant change in the dominant, protectionist attitude towards alien doctors. The licensing system was a mechanism for using alien doctors to address wartime shortages of medical services, but also tightly controlling their practice to ensure they did not appropriate Australian doctors’ work. This article provides the first detailed examination of the CADB and considers lessons from this historical episode.

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2022 45(4) UNSWLJ 1325: