Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 05:45 PM


Royal Historical Society of Victoria
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
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Gerardine Horgan


Victorians are invited to explore the impact of war on society, as the Royal Historical Society of Victoria’s presents their May lecture: Soldier Settlement in Victoria.


To be held on Tuesday 17 May, historian Professor Marilyn Lake will explore the soldier settlement scheme and its place in the broader history of settler colonialism in Australia.


“Soldier settlement was, for most who took up blocks after World War 1, a heartbreaking experience,” explained Professor Lake.


“Placed on land that was often unsuitable or inadequate for farming, thousands of returned soldiers were forced off their blocks in the 1920s and 1930s by an unpayable burden of debt.


“Many also suffered personal breakdowns and broken marriages - their plight frequently exacerbated by the mental and physical trauma of their war experience and many came to feel ill-used and betrayed, casualties twice over.”


The settlers’ letters, preserved in the Public Record Office, are eloquent testimony to their distress and sense of injustice.


One settler told the authorities that it was simply ‘scandalous’ and an ‘infamous swindle’ ‘to entice a man till he was penniless and then drive him off…’.


Another protested: ‘Simply because I was an 18 year old hero in the war and upon my return had sufficient faith in human nature to believe the lies told of the Mallee and the inducement offered …to take up land…’.


“Our lecture will highlight the many experiences of the settlers and the impact the scheme had on settler colonialism around the country,” said Professor Lake.


About the speaker


Marilyn Lake is Professor in History and ARC Professorial Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne. She has published on many aspects of 19th and 20th century Australian history, including on the impact of war on society: The Limits of Hope: Soldier Settlement in Victoria, 1915-38 (OUP, 1987), short-listed for the Age Book of the Year; ‘The Power of Anzac’ in Michael McKernan and Margaret Browne eds. Australia: Two Centuries of War and Peace (Australian War Memorial/Allen and Unwin, 1988) and the co-authored book What’s Wrong with Anzac (New South, 2010). Between 2010 and 2014 Professor Lake served as President of the Australian Historical Association.


About the event


Date:                Tuesday 17 May

Time:                5.45pm – 6.45pm; refreshments from 5.15pm

Address:           Royal Historical Society of Victoria

239 A’Beckett Street


Cost:                $10 non-members; free for members of the RHSV

Enquiries:         t: (03) 9326 9288   e: [email protected]  w: historyvictoria.org.au


About the RHSV


Formed in 1909, the Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) is committed to collecting, researching and sharing an understanding of the history of Victoria. Housing the most extensive single information resource on the history of Melbourne and Victoria, collections are open Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm. The RHSV is a community organisation that relies on membership subscriptions. Join today and help promote and preserve the history of Victoria – www.historyvictoria.org.au. You can also keep up to date with the past via the RHSV’s Twitter http://www.twitter.com/historyvictoria and Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/historyvictoria

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The History Council of Victoria acknowledges the State Library of Victoria and the Public Record Office Victoria for supply of the archival images that appear on this website.

We acknowledge the National Film and Sound Archive for the right to use of the video footage on the home page, titled "Melbourne: Life in Australia (1966)".

Image credits

  • Italian sailors on ship at Port Melbourne 1938, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese procession in Collins near Elizabeth Street 1901, Harvie & Sutcliffe, photographers, State Library of Victoria
  • People’s homes, Aboriginal station Coranderrk 1878, Fred Kruger Photographer, State Library of Victoria
  • Chinese nurses at Children’s Hospital under scholarship 1947, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, State Library of Victoria
  • Ladies physical culture class VRI Melbourne c1931, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001, 011/02
  • Melbourne Cup, Derby and Oaks Day, Flemington Racecourse 1936, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12903/P0001/4802, 372/30
  • Flinders Street viaduct at foot of Market Street with advertisement for McRobertson’s Chocolate on bridge, Public Record Office Victoria VPRS 12800/P0003, ADV 1342