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Awarded for service to Medicine, service to the Community, service to the Environment
Entered on roll: 2005
At a young age, Geraldine contravened her parent’s wishes to study medicine, which they considered ‘not a suitable profession for a woman!’ During her first year of science at the University of Tasmania, she met and became a life-long friend of Winifred Curtis, a woman of the same age and a kindred spirit also enduring the burden of chauvinism. She completed her studies at the University of Adelaide, graduating in 1948.
After a period in general practice, Geraldine decided to assume a much needed specialist role in the provision of obstetrical and gynaecological services in Launceston, working as a woman doctor treating women patients. To that end, she and similarly minded colleague, Dr Ida Birchall, became well known and respected throughout the community. Geraldine, in particular, was highly respected for her professional care. No patient was ever denied help whatever the hour, no call for treatment was ever refused. Patients commended her for her thoroughness and care, which went beyond the professional call of duty. She was also actively involved in establishment of the first homeless men’s shelter in Launceston.
For her many years of voluntary service with St John Ambulance, she received the award of Dame of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
Despite a heavy workload, Geraldine found time to enjoy the Tasmanian bush. Her love of the pristine uniqueness of the Henderson Lagoon area, on Tasmania’s East Coast, led her to buy two hectares of land and a cottage. The generosity of Geraldine, Aida Ball and botanist Mary Cameron led to the establishment of the Winifred Curtis Scamander Reserve. The Reserve has since been expanded and 80 hectares have been preserved for the enjoyment of the people of Tasmania. Geraldine also donated parkland to the National Trust to prevent the encroachment of buildings on an adjoining property.
For Geraldine, her life and work were nearly synonymous and she rarely stopped. She worked until the day she died. A patient who saw her on her last morning of surgery found her undimmed. She was 87 years of age.