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John Simeon Elkington

Soon to have their health checked: children of the Triabunna School (AOT, PH30/1/7406)

John Simeon Colebrook Elkington (1871–1955), public health advocate, was born in Castlemaine, Victoria. After studying medicine, he was employed at the Victorian Department of Public Health. In 1903, the Tasmanian government sought Victorian assistance with the smallpox epidemic raging in Launceston. Elkington, recently returned from London with a diploma of public health, was nominated for the position. Following that effective campaign, he became Tasmania's chief health officer in a newly established department which lobbied local authorities on health issues, campaigned against food adulteration and tuberculosis, and fostered infant care. His system of checking schoolchildren's health became a model throughout Australia. In 1910, Elkington became commissioner of public health in Queensland, and in 1913 joined the federal quarantine service. This he did much to develop, and he also fostered the Australian Institute of Tropical Health.

Further reading: ADB 8.

Wendy Rimon