Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Joseph Aloysius Carrodus (1885–1961)

by Lyn Anne Riddett

This article was published:

Joseph Aloysius Carrodus (1885-1961), public servant, was born on 3 September 1885 at Richmond, Melbourne, third child of William Carrodus, baker, and his wife Catherine Elizabeth, née Nix, both Victorian born. Educated at St Patrick's College, East Melbourne, Joseph matriculated with honours in English, French and history. On 11 August 1904 he became a clerk in the Commonwealth Department of External Affairs. After three years he moved to its international treaties section where his knowledge of French proved valuable. He subsequently acted as private secretary to the minister, undertook considerable confidential work and was highly regarded by his superiors.

On 26 July 1915 Carrodus enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Although immediately accepted for officer training, he was always to emphasize that he began as a private. Reaching the Western Front in November 1916 as a lieutenant in the 37th Battalion, he was promoted captain in April 1917 and wounded in action on 12 October. His A.I.F. appointment terminated in Melbourne on 4 September 1919.

Resuming his career as a public servant, in the 1920s Carrodus headed the Papua, New Guinea and Norfolk Island branch of the Department of Home and Territories. From August to October 1923 he visited Papua and New Guinea; his report formed the basis of a review of Australian government policy on the administration of those territories. Chosen to represent Australia at the 1926 meetings of the Permanent Mandates Commission at Geneva, Switzerland, he was accompanied to Europe by his wife Mabel Florence Maud, née Waters, whom he had married on 14 March 1923 at St Silas's Anglican Church, Albert Park, Melbourne. They settled in Canberra in 1927.

Carrodus was acting-administrator of the Northern Territory for six months in 1934. He was appointed secretary, Department of Interior, on 25 November 1935. Consolidating his position as an administrator and government adviser, he played a major role in developing policies on Aboriginal affairs in the Northern Territory and on the growth of the Australian Capital Territory, and was influential on immigration issues. The failure of successive Federal governments to accept a large number of Jewish refugees in 1936-45 reflected Carrodus's persistent advice to refuse them entry, as much as it did the wishes of politicians. In his attitude to Jews suffering persecution in Europe, he showed a clear understanding of their circumstances, but shared the common indifference to their needs. He was appointed C.B.E. in 1939.

Clear sighted and single minded, Carrodus took a no-nonsense approach to administration. He was generous to, and supportive of, new and junior officers, and encouraged staff development. From May 1949 until his retirement in September 1950, he was director of civil defence. A good footballer and oarsman in his youth, he later enjoyed swimming and golf. He died on 8 April 1961 in Canberra Community Hospital and was buried in Canberra cemetery; his wife, daughter and son survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • T. Wise, The Self-Made Anthropologist (Syd, 1985)
  • W. D. Rubinstein (ed), Jews in the Sixth Continent (Syd, 1987)
  • A. Markus, Governing Savages (Syd, 1990)
  • J. P. M. Long, The Go-Betweens (Darwin, 1992)
  • Canberra Times, 8 Nov 1935
  • Argus (Melbourne), 2 Jan 1939
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 7 Jan 1939, 6 Mar 1942, 8 Apr 1949
  • Herald (Melbourne), 10 Dec 1941
  • CRS A571, 1904, CRS A1, 1923-38, CRS A518, 1924-26, CRS A426, 1935-36, CRS A434, 1938, CRS A433, 1940, CRS A431/2, 1949 (National Archives of Australia).

Citation details

Lyn Anne Riddett, 'Carrodus, Joseph Aloysius (1885–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 18 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 September, 1885
Richmond, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia


8 April, 1961 (aged 75)
Acton, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.