Skip to content
  • Open today 9am–5pm
  • Free general admission

We are updating our new website in stages. This page will be changed to the new design but is not currently optimised for mobile devices.

You are in site section: Exhibitions

Elizabeth Anderson

Portrait of a woman sitting in a chair wearing a white blouse and ankle-length skirt
Betty Anderson, 1910. State Library of Victoria

Red Cross volunteer

Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Anderson served with the Red Cross in Melbourne during the First World War. She was one of thousands of women who worked as nurses or voluntary aids in hospitals and rest homes across Australia.

Despite the early rush to enlist, there was no labour shortage on the home front. High unemployment meant that women were not needed to take on men’s jobs. Instead, they had to find other ways to play a meaningful part in the war effort. One career that was available was nursing — an occupation that affirmed women’s traditional role as nurturers and carers. Even so, only about 2000 served overseas.

Nurses and patients in a hospital ward
A massage ward on the verandah of Rosemount Repatriation Hospital in Brisbane, staffed by Voluntary Aid Detachment members, 1918. Australian War Memorial H02258
Return to Top