Blue Plaque recipients have demonstrated commitment to strengthening education opportunities, improving health services, and providing support for Australians on battlefields far from home.
Many of these celebrated recipients are women. In the late 19th and early 20th century, participation in charitable causes gave women an opportunity to harness their skills and energy to better society. Individuals and organised groups of women tirelessly campaigned to improve the lives of those in their local communities.
Little Company of Mary Sisters
The Little Company of Mary, a Catholic religious order, established the Calvary Hospital in Wagga Wagga in 1926.
The Sisters of this order – also known as the ‘Blue Sisters’ after the blue veils they wore – played a vital role in providing compassionate healthcare to the people of the Riverina district and beyond.
Today, the hospital continues to serve the local community.
Fr Thomas Dunlea
Father Thomas Dunlea was an Irish-Australian Catholic priest. He was known for his work with vulnerable youth and alcoholics. In the 1930s, after discovering that some parishioners were living rough, he set about caring for the homeless boys among them. In 1940, he established a permanent shelter which he named Boys’ Town. In 2010, the shelter was renamed the Dunlea Centre in Father Thomas’s honour.
Camden Red Cross Sewing Circles
The Camden Red Cross sewing circles played a vital role on the home front during World War I and World War II. The sewing circles attracted local women from across the district who were able to use their skills to manufacture clothing and supplies for the war effort.
As bloody conflicts raged thousands of kilometres away, women met in this building, originally known as the School of Arts, to diligently sew or knit items such as shirts, pyjamas, mittens and medical supplies.
Caroline Chisholm was a pioneering humanitarian who fought to improve conditions for immigrant women and families. After discovering the New South Wales Government had no system to support new immigrants, Caroline met every incoming ship to offer help with employment and accommodation. Caroline rented two terraced dwellings on Mill Street which she converted to an immigrant hostel. Known as Caroline Chisholm Cottage, it is believed to be the nation’s only surviving site of her charitable works. In honour of her tireless contribution, her face was featured on our first five-dollar note.