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
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
239 A'Beckett St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
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