Isobel Williams

President 1967

Dr Constance Isabel Arundel (CIA) Williams graduated from Medicine at the University of Melbourne in 1932 and subsequently joined the staff of the Launceston Public Hospital in Tasmania. In 1938 she was appointed to Lachlan Park Hospital (later Royal Derwent Hospital) in New Norfolk where she worked under the supervision of Dr Charles Brothers (an early President of Australasian Association of Psychiatrists (AAP)) and qualified to join the Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 1944.

By 1952 Dr Williams had moved from Lachlan Park to Millbrook Rise Psychopathic Hospital as Deputy Superintendent. Millbrook Rise was originally built using Tasmania’s share of the surplus Red Cross funds raised during the First World War, and was intended for the treatment of ‘shell-shocked’ veterans.  As this demand declined it specialised in the voluntary treatment of neurosis and depression both in a residential hospital and outpatient setting. In 1968 Dr Williams retired from the position of Head of Millbrook Rise to go into private practice.

Dr Isobel Williams (as she was known) was an inaugural member of the Australasian Association of Psychiatrists (AAP) in 1946 where she was one of three women out of 67 members, and presented at the 1949 Congress in Hobart. She was also a Foundation Fellow of the College in 1963 and the inaugural President of the Tasmanian Branch of the College in 1958. For many years Dr Williams was the only woman to reach a position of authority in either AAP or the College.

Few records remain of Dr Williams' involvement with the College apart from her time as President from 1967 to 1968 which is unfortunate given her achievements as an early female psychiatrist, and the credit it brings the College as a progressive meritocracy. Other medical colleges in Australia and overseas did not have a female president for more than a decade.

Have you found the information you were looking for?