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Frank JamesCunningham Jaunay 1916–2001

In 1928, when I was 12 years old, I was invited to stay with my aunt and uncle in Canberra. Mr Walter Henderson was an officer with the newly formed Department of Foreign Affairs.

The trip to Canberra was complicated but relatively uneventful. My parents put me on the charabanc from Mount Gambier, where we were living at the time, for Melbourne. The driver had instructions to leave me at the People's Palace in Melbourne where I would stay until a train for Canberra left Melbourne.

This transfer worked well with the man at the desk passing me to the care of a traveller who saw that I transferred to the Canberra train at Albury. My uncle and aunt met me at the station.

The stay at Canberra with this childless couple who tended to speak in French to each other was not one that stands out in my mind and in fact the only thing I can recall was a picnic on the river bank. However, this uneventful holiday was to turn into one of high drama.

Uncle Walter and Aunt Gertrude put me on the train back to Melbourne without going to the trouble of organising a chain of supporters as my parents had done when I set out. I found my way back to the People's Palace, booked in and went up to my room where I promptly fell asleep on the bed. The next thing I recalled was a banging on the door by the Melbourne Police. The man at the desk, who was not the one who knew me from my previous stay, had reported me as a possible runaway. I had no identification and so I was bundled off to the police station where I spent the whole day while the police went through the complicated process of confirming my bona fides. In 1928 this was not the easy task it would be today. It required a telephone call to the Mount Gambier Police Station who would have to assign a Constable to go to my home, probably on a bicycle and ascertain the facts. When the word got back to Russell Street Police Station I was escorted back to the People's Palace.

The officer who took me in felt so sorry for me and my lost day in Melbourne that he treated me to a visit to the Zoo the following day!


Scullin who became Prime Minister on 23 October 1929 was urged by the outgoing government to retain Richard Casey as Liaison Officer in London, and to continue to foster the growth of a Department of External Affairs. External Affairs was then a half-department headed by Walter Henderson within the Prime Minister's Department, but Alfred Stirling had already been named for a new post in the proposed department.
Walter Henderson was Head of the External Affairs Branch of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet 192630 with Richard Casey in London. The mainstay of SM Bruce's plan for developing Australian expertise and influence in foreign policy was with a separate Department of External Affairs. Henderson resigned in 1930 when the cutbacks under the Scullin government meant his transfer from the branch.

Research reveals the Hendersons were on the 1928 Electoral Roll for the subdivision of Manuka listed under:

HENDERSON, Gertrude & Walter poultry farmer & poultry farmer
...which seems a strange occupational description of a member of the Foreign Affairs Department, even in 1928!

In the 1929 Roll they are listed under Mugga & Quarry:
HENDERSON, Walter civil servant, house

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