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    Group portrait of members of the first VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) contingent to travel overseas., November 1941
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Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) (1914 - )

From
1914
Occupations
Community organisation

Summary

Voluntary Aid Detachments were established during World War I by members of the Australian Red Cross and the Order of St John. Members received instruction in first aid and home nursing from the St John Ambulance Association. Initially they worked without pay in hospitals and convalescent homes alongside doctors and nurses. After the war the voluntary service continued. Recruits were drawn from the local area by invitation from a serving member. During the World War II Voluntary Aid Detachment members were given more medical training, but they were not fully qualified nurses. Voluntary Aides worked in convalescent hospitals, on hospital ships and in the blood bank, as well as on the home front.

In New South Wales Voluntary Aid Detachments are now part of the Voluntary Aid Service Corps (VASC). To become a member of the Corps, volunteers must hold a current Senior First Aid Certificate. Members provide free first aid at major sporting and cultural events as well as assistance in times of disaster.

Details

The Australian Red Cross began organising Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) nation-wide as part of Lady Helen Munro Ferguson's appeal "to the women of Australia" at the onset of World War I. They soon came to be largely comprised of women. Their scheme followed the policy of the British War Office, and the British Red Cross Society, of which Australia was developing a branch. A number of women had also enrolled in a Voluntary Aid Detachment in 1914 as part of the formation of the New South Wales branch of the British Red Cross Society. By August 1915, the Australian branch of the British Red Cross reported that Victoria and Tasmania also had Voluntary Aid Detachments. In addition Special Voluntary Aid Detachment Committees had been formed in each State Division, and a Committee of the Central Council had been formed. Recognised by the Military, the Voluntary Aid Detachments were at their peak in World War I and World War II, providing first aid, nursing assistance, comforts, domestic assistance and other supports for returned and wounded soldiers. In between the two World Wars, they continued their care for ex-soldiers and their families, raised funds, and moved into civil hospitals, homes and health associations. In 1928, they became a technical reserve of the Army Medical Corps, administered under the Minister of Defence through a Joint Central Council. After World War II, they extended their civilian service, which included the assistance of new immigrants. In January 1948, direct control of the Voluntary Aid Detachments was returned to the Australian Red Cross and St John Ambulance Society. Yet many Voluntary Aid Detachments folded as time went on, States withdrew from this area, and staff worked in a range of other Australian Red Cross services. In New South Wales, however, the Voluntary Aid Detachments were renamed and revamped as the Voluntary Aid Service Corps in 1967, where they still remain active.

Events

1916 - 1918
Australian Government recognised the Voluntary Aid Detachments as auxiliaries to the Medical Service, and Voluntary Aids began working in military hospitals in Australia
1918 - 1939
After the war the voluntary service continued in hospitals throughout Australia, drawing recruits from local areas by invitation from a serving member
1928 - 1948
Voluntary Aid Detachments became a technical reserve of the Army Medical Corps, administered under the Minister of Defence through a Joint Central Council
1939 - 1940
Due to labour shortages Voluntary Aids once again began working in the military hospital system
January 1940
Voluntary Aids began receiving payment for their duties
1941
The role of Voluntary Aid Detachments expanded and they are now employed in a wide range of positions, including as clerks, ambulance drivers, seamstresses, storekeepers, radiographers, dental orderlies and laundry staff
June 1941
Approval granted for Voluntary Aids to serve overseas
October 1941
During World War II Voluntary Aid Detachment members serve in Cairo, Gaza and Ceylon as well as on hospital ships
October 1941
200 Voluntary Aids embark for the Middle East.
March 1942
The Military Board approved the call-up of Voluntary Aids, and the Voluntary Aid Detachment began to be administered as a service within the Army Medical Service
December 1942
The Australian Army Medical Women's Service established to distinguish between full-time military Voluntary Aids and those attached on a voluntary basis to the aid organisations
January 1948
Direct control of the Voluntary Aid Detchments was returned to the Australian Red Cross and St John Ambulance Society
1967
Voluntary Aid Detachments were renamed and revamped as the Voluntary Aid Service Corps

Sources used to compile this entry: Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 : Australia During the War Vol. XI edited by Ernest Scott, http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/vad.htm accessed 20030812 and http://minister.dva.gov.au/media_releases/2001/august/history119.htm accessed 20030722.

Related entries

Timeline

 1914 - Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD)
       1942 - 1951 Australian Army Medical Women's Service (AAMWS)
             1948 - Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps (RAANC)

Superior

Related Women

Archival resources

Australian War Memorial Research Centre

  • Group portrait of members of the first VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) contingent to travel overseas., November 1941, P02480.001; Sydney Morning Herald and The Home; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Interview with Patsy Adam-Smith. (When the war came to Australia), 24 June 1991, F04158; Adam-Smith, Patricia Jean (Patsy) (1924 - 2001); Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Jill Linton Private Australian Army Medical Women's Service, S00553; Angie Michaelis; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Ladies of Voluntary Aid Detachments, c. 1915, H11580; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • The leaders of the Australian Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), 28 September 1942, 136909; Herald Newspaper; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Lila Stocks Voluntary Aid Detachment and Private Australian Army Medical Women's Service, S00552; Angie Michaelis; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • Medical kit : Voluntary Aid Detachment, REL31069; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • The services on parade in Melbourne and Sydney (News From Home. No. 65), 8 December 1943, F00758; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • [Voluntary Organizations - Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD):] Memoranda, Summaries and handbooks concerning the enrolment and training of women for national emergency, 1935 - 1944, AWM54; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • [Voluntary Organizations and Women's Services:] Correspondence concerning design of Voluntary Aid Detachment certificates and use of the Red Cross symbol, 1931 - 1934, AWM27; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details
  • [Voluntary Organizations and Women's Services:] Voluntary Aid Detachments, 1915 - 1926, AWM27; Australian War Memorial Research Centre. Details

John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland

  • Women in War –personal reminiscences, T1772, OMR 06, Box 9531; John Oxley Library, Manuscripts and Business Records Collection, State Library of Queensland. Details

National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office

  • Army Medical & Dental Corps. Nurses and Specialists [Applications for a Commission in the A.A.M.C. Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D.)] - A R Appleford, September 1942, MP508/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Army Medical & Dental Corps. Nurses and Specialists [Applications for a Commission in the A.A.M.C. Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D.)] - J L Christie, September 1942, MP508/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Army Medical & Dental Corps. Nurses and Specialists [Applications for a Commission in the A.A.M.C. Voluntary Aid Detachments (V.A.D.)] - J M Snelling, October 1942, MP508/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Change of title from VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] to AAMWS [Australian Army Medical Women's Service], 1942, MP508/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Joint State Council VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachments], 1940 - 1945, MP150/1/0; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Services Personnel - Basis of issues (Including Australian Women's Land Army, Red Cross, VAD'S [Voluntary Aid Detachments], and St John's Ambulance Brigade), 1942 - 1948, B5641/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • [Uniforms for VAD [Voluntary Aid Detachment] and AWLA [Australian Women's Land Army], 1942, MP1/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Voluntary Aid Detachments, 1914 - 1917, B539; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Voluntary Aid Detachments, 1935 - 1936, B1535; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Voluntary Aid Detachments - Registration, 1949 - 1957, MP927/1; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details
  • Voluntary Aid Detachments [Grants], 1926 - 1931, B1535; National Archives of Australia, Melbourne Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, National Office

  • Scheme for the Organisation of Voluntary Aid in Australia; Also Handbook for Voluntary Aid Detachments in Australia, 1926, A1194/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details
  • Subsidies - Australian Red Cross Society. Voluntary aid detachments., 1929, A1928/1; National Archives of Australia, National Office. Details

National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office

  • Change of name of voluntary aid detachment [feminist club Wakehurst VAD], 1952, ST3184/1; National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office. Details
  • Registration of Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments [VADs], 1953 - 1957, ST3184/1; National Archives of Australia, Sydney Office. Details

Digital resources

Title
Group portrait of members of the first VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) contingent to travel overseas.
Type
Image
Date
November 1941
Control
P02480.001

Details

Anne Heywood and Penny Robinson

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National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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