Woman Kernot, Edith Latham

Community Worker

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Edith Kernot was born in Geelong, Victoria in 1877, the second of eight surviving children of clerk, Henry Hobday and his wife, Charlotte. She completed her education at a private ladies' college in Malvern, and, in 1901 married chemist, Walter Kernot. They settled in Geelong where their three children were born.

Active in many community organisations, Kernot was one of the founders of the Geelong District Nursing Society, and an office bearer in the Female Refuge, City Mission, Ladies Benevolent Association, Red Cross, the Geelong and District Hospital and the Baby Health Centres Association. She was responsible for initiating many new projects within Geelong and also encouraged similar developments in neighbouring areas (Argus, 5 October 1938).

Kernot's talents were recognised at the state level where she became vice-president of the Baby Health Centres Association, drawing on her success in Geelong to advance the cause in other areas. She recognised the need for professional training for infant welfare nurses and encouraged local committees to contribute to the training college which the Association had established (Argus, 8 April 1936). In 1933 she was selected to chair of the Country Standing Committee of the Charities Board, one of the first women to be appointed to such a responsible role. In this capacity she travelled widely throughout the state visiting organisations that were supervised by the Board (Portland Guardian, 19 February 1942).

Awarded the MBE in 1958, Kernot died in 1967.

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