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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Anderson, Colin Warden (1901–1988)

by Criena Fitzgerald

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Colin Warden Anderson (1901-1988), medical practitioner, was born on 26 January 1901 at Fremantle, Western Australia, son of Victorian-born Thomas Lynewolde Anderson, also a medical practitioner, and his wife Mary Jessie, née Warden, a nurse from Scotland. Colin attended local state schools and Scotch College, Perth. In 1915-18 the family lived in England and he completed his schooling at Highgate School, London. Back in Australia, he entered Ormond College, and studied medicine at the University of Melbourne (MB, BS, 1924). After an internship at the Melbourne Hospital, Anderson gained further experience at Perth Public Hospital. In 1927, while medical officer at the Wooroloo Sanatorium, outside Perth, he was advised to go to the country for his health; he became a general practitioner at Dalwallinu. On 7 July 1928 at St John’s Church of England, Northam, he married Constance Louisa Williams (d.1971), a nurse, who then assisted him in his practice. He was the local film projectionist, a keen horticulturist and an expert mechanic—later making parts for and maintaining his 1941 Daimler motorcar.

On 10 February 1941 Anderson was mobilised as a captain in the Australian Army Medical Corps. Posted as medical officer to the 5th Garrison Battalion at Swanbourne, he later served in military hospitals at Northam and Perth. In August 1944 he was appointed rehabilitation medical officer, Western Command, responsible for the care of returned servicemen and prisoners of war. He was promoted to temporary major in April 1945 and his appointment was terminated on 13 May 1946. Deputy-director of rehabilitation (1946-51) in the Commonwealth Department of Social Services, Perth, he was seconded to the Department of Post-war Reconstruction for three years. He became interested in occupational therapy and helped with the recovery and retraining of both ex-servicemen and civilians. As part of his job he initiated a variety of community services in Perth, including the emergency housekeeper service.

In 1951 Anderson returned to general practice, in partnership with Dr Kenneth Aberdeen. Using the experience he had gained examining army personnel, he developed a clinical practice in which he conducted medical examinations for employees of insurance and mining companies and for the Metropolitan Passenger Transport Trust. A council member (1952-67) of the Western Australian branch of the British Medical Association (from 1962 the Australian Medical Association), he served as president in 1958 and permanent vice-president from 1968. He was a member (1955-63) of the federal council of the BMA and AMA and a director (1957-66) of the Australasian Medical Publishing Co. Ltd, publishers of the Medical Journal of Australia. Eager to promote postgraduate education for general practitioners, in 1956 he helped to set up the (Royal Australian) College of General Practitioners. He was chairman (1956-57) and provost (1956-62, 1973-74) of the Western Australia faculty of the college, and president (1963-66) of the federal body. Made a fellow of the RACGP in 1963, he continued to serve on the State board until 1988. Anderson was appointed OBE in 1981.

Survived by three of his four sons and his daughter, he died on 15 June 1988 at his East Fremantle home and was cremated. An obituarist praised his commitment to `the traditions, values and ethics of medicine’.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Medical Association (Western Australia), Branch News, July 1988, p 11
  • Western Australia Faculty & Family Medicine Programme Newsletter, July-Aug 1988, p 1
  • Western Australia Association of Occupational Therapists, Newsletter, Aug 1988, p 1
  • series B884, item W77 (National Archives of Australia)
  • M. Adams, interview with C. W. Anderson (typescript, 1977, State Library of Western Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

Criena Fitzgerald, 'Anderson, Colin Warden (1901–1988)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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