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Group portrait of War Widows Guild members c 1950

Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Major-General George Vasey’s death in an air crash near Cairns, Queensland, on 5 March 1945, spurred his wife Jessie to advocate on behalf of other war widows. Founding the War Widows’ Guild of Australia on 22 November 1945, Jessie Vasey achieved an increase in the war widows’ pension and other benefits, such as free public transport and allowances for children.

The Guild established a nationwide housing auxiliary to support ill and elderly war widows and organised craft groups to keep members happy and engaged. The symbol of the Guild is the kookaburra—an industrious and cheerful bird who mates for life, is fearless and aggressive in the defence of its young.