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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2414


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 05/05/1971

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 2414

FOR PRESS: PM No. 50 / 1971
Statement by the Prime Minister, Mr. William McMahon
The Prime Minister, Mr. William McMahon, announced today that
the Commonwealth Director-General of Health, Sir William Refshauge, had
been appointed President of the 24th World Health Assembly.
Mr. McMahon said " The election of Sir William Refshauge to
preside over the 24th World Health Assembly is a very great honour, both
for Australia and for Sir William personally.
" It is a recognition by the 132 member nations of the World Health
Organisation of the value of Sir William's personal contribution to the cause of
international health, and more generally, of the support Australia, which was
one of the founder members of Wi H40. in 1948, has always given to that
organisation. " The World Health Organisation has as its objectives the attainment,
of the highest level of health by all peoples and this is a cause to which Australia
has always given wholehearted support.
" Sir William has been closely connected with W. H. 0. activities since
his appointment as Director-General of Health in 1960 and he has during that time
earned a high reputation as an international statesman and administrator in the
cause of world health.
" Sir William has previously been honoured by the World Health
Organisation by being appointed Chairman of two of the main committees of the
World Health Assembly and in 1969 he was Chairman of the Executive Board of
May 1971

Major-General Sir William Dudley Refshauge, 0. B. Ee I C. B. B. p E. De.# F. Re. C. 0. Go,
F. ReA. C. F. R. A. C. P. i Hon. F. Re SiH., F. A. C. MA.
Major-General Sir William Ref shauge became the Commonwealth Director-
General of Health in September, 1960, on the retirement of Dr. A. J. Metcalfe. He
was formerly Director-General of Australian Army Medical Services.
He was born in 1913 and educated at Scotch College, Melbourne and Melbourne
University. His interest in the Australian Army began in 1930, when he enlisted as
a member of the Scotch College cadet corps. Nine years later he joined the Commonwealth
Military Forces at the outbreak of World War 11, and was appointed Regimental Medical
Officer of the 2/ 2nd Field Regiment. He subsequently commanded the 2/ 8th and
Field Ambulance, and was acting Director of Medical Services, 7th Division.
In seven years with the A. L. F. he served in the Western Desert, Greece,
Crete, Wau-Mubo, Salamaua, Ramu Valley and North Borneo. He was awarded the
0.13. e E. in 1944 and Mentioned in Despatches four times.
After the war Sir William was in civil practice until February 1948, when he
became Medical Superintendent of the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne. He
occupied this post until 1951. In May of that year he enlisted in the Australian Regular
Army as Deputy Director-General of Army Medical Services. In this capacity he
v isited Japan and Korea in 1952. He later visited military medical establishments in
the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada and attended the 16th Congress of the
International Committee of Military Medicine and Pharmacy, in Rome.
On June 15, 1955, he was appointed Honorary Physician to Her Majesty the
Queen and on June 26 was promoted Major-General and appointed Director-General of
Army Medical Services. He represented the Australian Army at the Bikini and Elnewetok
weapon tests in 1958.
A former rowing blue of Melbourne University, Sir William Refshauge gained
his degrees of Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery at the MIbourne University.
He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Cbstetricians and Gynaecologists, London, a
Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, and a Fellow of the Royal
Australasian College of Physicians.
He was created a member of the Order of the Companion of the British
Empire In 1959, and knighted in 1966.
Sir William Ref shauge has attended meetings of the World Health
Organisation as Chief Australian delegate. each year since his appointment as Director-
General of Health in 1960. He has been Chairman of the two main Committees of the
World Health Assembly and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Administration
and Finance of the Executive Board of W. H. 0. In 1969 he was appointed Chairman
of the Executive Board. He has been appointed President of the 24th World Health
Assembly now in session in Geneva.
In August, 1942 he married Helen Elizabeth Stanfield Allwright, daughter of
the late Richard Everett Allwright and the late Edith Allwright, of Peckham Vale,
Gretna, Tasmania. He has five children ( four sons and a daughter) and lives in
Scarborough Street, Red Hill, Canberra.

Transcript 2414