Australian War Widows (Queensland)



Jessie Mary Vasey, OBE, CBE 1897 - 1966

'Yet it is no mean destiny to be called upon to go on for a man who laid down his life, as Christ did, to save mankind from the power of the Beast'.

These words were spoken by the founder of the War Widows' Guild of Australia, Jessie Mary Vasey, after the death of her husband Major General George Vasey in early 1945. With her natural ability as a leader, her charm and intellect, she encouraged women to start a craft guild where weaving and other handicrafts were taught to members so that they could augment their meagre pensions. The Guild provided companionship, counselling, child-minding and above all an environment of mutual support where members could relax and feel secure.

This was the beginning of a powerful lobby group which today is consulted by Governments on all matters concerning war widows.

The Toowoomba Sub Branch was the first group to be formed by Mrs Vasey in Queensland on the 8th August, 1947. Just four days later, on 12th August, 1947 the Queensland (Qld) State Branch was formed, other states having been established earlier. This meeting was held in the Brisbane City Hall where two hundred women attended and Mrs Vasey acted as Chairman. Later the State Guilds were federated and Mrs Vasey became the Federal President and remained so until her death in 1966.

'We all belong to each other.

We all need each other.

It is in serving each other and in

Sacrificing for our common good

That we are finding our true life.'

Mrs Vasey was inspired by these words spoken by King George VI, (an extract from his Christmas Message 1941) The Motto was adopted by the national Guild in 1949 to set the mood, the tone, the harmony, the working together of not only the conference but the Guild in the years to come.

The Guild has adopted the kookaburra badge design and this design is the Guild Logo.

AWWQ owes its success to the foundation members who took up the challenge in the early years of the establishment of the Guild.

Today there are over 70,000 war widows nationally. It is Jessie Mary Vasey, and the women she inspired to work with her, who our widows must thank for the security and benefits they now enjoy.