‘1000 Babies Can’t Be Wrong’: Listening out for Arthur Deery, an alien doctor in Victoria


  • Fallon Mody


In January 1961, fifty mothers marched through the Victorian town of Healesville demanding their doctor, who had been abruptly dismissed, be reinstated to the local hospital. The Sun reported they marched in “blistering, near-century heat” carrying placards that declared, “1000 Babies Can’t Be Wrong” and “Doc Deery forever”. The mainstream newsworthiness of this moment was who these white, middle-class mothers mobilised in support of: Doc Deery was a Hungarian Jewish “alien doctor” with “communistic ideas”. Arthur Deery was among hundreds of refugee doctors who arrived in Australia in the 1930s. Historians have paid little attention to this group beyond representations of their marginalisation, as social and professional outsiders. In this paper, Fallon Mody will re-present Arthur Deery’s migrant medical life, which spanned 40 years, and three country towns. In doing so, this research highlights how such biographical explorations enables what Greg Dening called “history’s empowering force” to give us a deeper, more human understanding of being an “alien doctor” in Australia.

The following is the written version of the paper presented by Dr Fallon Mody at the annual Greg Dening Memorial Lecture held at the Forum Lecture Theatre, University of Melbourne, 15 October 2019.






The 2019 Greg Dening Memorial Lecture: Listening Across Boundaries