Allen German interview, 4 October 2012

Dublin Core


Allen German interview, 4 October 2012


Medicine; Psychiatry


Allen German was Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine from 1987 and Head of the Division of Dentistry and Medicine from 1989 at the University of Western Australia. During the interview Allen discusses his extensive career in Psychiatry and his recollections of UWA in association with the development of his career.

He looks at the major requirement to develop a modern, undergraduate teaching curriculum in psychiatry, which he sees was achieved despite the department having had expected developments curtailed by the recession of the mid 1970s. He speaks of the postgraduate and professional training he experienced at the university. Allen discusses at some length his personal research and areas of study and career achievements.

He looks at the steady decline in funding at the University of Western Australia. He recalls the level of competitive research in Australian Medical Schools in association with the university and its development. He looks at his personal experiences at the University of WA and looks back at his involvement with fondness.


German, Allen


UWA Historical Society


Copyright holder: University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


John Bannister


Allen German


Interview 1: 54 minutes, 14 seconds
Interview 2: 1 hour, 7 minutes, 26 seconds
Total: 2 hours, 1 minute, 40 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00:00 Born Gordon Allen German in Aberdeenshire. Father an evangelist in the Plymouth Brethren. Fascination with science. Neuroscience and Freudian psychoanalysis. Scholarship in the Scottish Health Department in brain research, postgraduate in medicine.
00:06:00 Three degrees in three years. Going to London. Chair in East Africa. Taking a Chair in Uganda in 1966. Background in Scottish medicine. Private practitioners working in Perth, Western Australia. Suspicion of academic clinicians in Perth.
00:10:00 Views of Perth private practice. University and private sector. London Postgraduate Institute of Psychiatry. Tradition. Bobby Lewis places graduates all over the world. The Mod Sle.
00:13:00 University splendid but no international standing. Parochial institution in 1962. Comparisons to experiences in Uganda. AMA outcry. Influences coming to UWA. Research programs in the general teaching hospitals in Sir Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth. Interest in mental health of people in third world countries. Difficulty in doing research from Western Australia. Leading authority in mental health problems. Desires for graduates’ futures. Outlining what the thrust in research will be.
00:18:32 Neurophysiology. Studying brain potentials in Perth. Building up neuroscience laboratory. Problems at UWA in 1990s. Fay Gale. Parochial setup in the University. Pride in the research and being placed number one in Australia for research grants. Support of the university to psychology the new science. Interest in how the brain worked.
00:24:26 Coming to Australia. Being deported by Idi Amin. Not wanting to return to England. Cecil Kidd. Applying for the vacant chair in Perth. Isolated university. Parochial university doing good work. Training postgraduate study in psychiatry. Masters in medicine in psychiatry. Fellowship of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychologists.
00:30:16 Designing a curriculum for Master of Medicine. Postgraduate work taken seriously. Training hospitals Sir Charles Gairdner, Royal Perth, Graylands and Heathcote. Archie Ellis. Registrars as trainees. Ron Kilgard. First rotating training team in the country. Success of the scheme.
00:35:27 Exercise in training and integration, bureaucracies working together. Support from the medical faculty and by Whelan and Prescott. Dean of Medicine Gordon King comes through China. Problems with professorial heads. Fay Gale. More problems. Professors on hospital boards. Hospital boards reprimand the university. Fay dubious about the medical school. Medical can start their own college. Monetary and bureaucratic problems.
00:41:58 Internationalisation of university 1972-1989. Malaysian postgraduate training scheme. Attention overseas for research. The Busselton Study. Advantages in W.A. for epidemiology research. Ambition to move research grants from NHMRC. Large research grants. From last to first in 1993-4. Promotion of research.
00:50:00 Interaction of faculties and collaboration. Skills in science. Conflicts. Fay Gale wants peace.

Track 2
00:00:00 Problems. Anatomy should not be outside medicine. Medical students and the Department of Anatomy. Location of Human Anatomy and Science. Becoming more involved in the administrative role at the university. Vice Chancellor’s involvement. Whelan, Smith and the Head of Dentistry and Medicine. Fay Gale wants to devolve money.
00:06:30 Fay calls all the heads together. Her team of deputies. Gale’s ideas for the Dean’s role. Adding of divisions. Elected dean. Head of division in constant contact with ministers. Administrative role. Reasons for resigning from the university. Gale relieved. Delicate areas.
00:11:00 Development of the career. Head of Division Dentistry Medicine 1989. UWA community. Hospital settings and the supportive roles. Evolved dramatically into a major international university. Alan Robson runs the university during Gale’s time.
00:16:00 Development of work, sponsored by the WHO. Standing in the world research of third world mental health. Botswana, Swaziland, Malaysia, India. Developing manifestations of psychosis. Changing cultural experiences. Extent of disease of the brain. Other medical duties in third world countries.
00:23:15 Comparisons of the third world countries and Western Australian indigenous people. Aboriginal patterns of disorder similar to African conditions. Politics comes into delusion. Support from WHO and field work. Psychiatry of Poverty.. Rural and remote health care. Emphasis on funding on the big disciplines of surgery.
00:33:45 Three other areas of interest to develop. Cinderella sciences psychiatry. General practice. Lack of a Department of Public Health. Sir Charles Gairdner and Royal Perth and Fremantle hospitals. Department grows enormously. University medical school benefits. Personal crucial part and input to the university. Promoting self-reliance through devolution.
00:40:45 Achievements in primary health care. Psychoanalytic areas. Super cultural core of clinical psychology. Psychoanalysis was a peculiarity and Austrian, German development. John Wing develops tools. Looking at mental illness in a controlled way. Transatlantic Psychic Study. DSM 1 and DSM 4. The evolution of rational treatments. Powerful cognitive therapy. Putting money into health care.
00:49:49 University assisting the wider community. Extension school. Internationalisation of UWA in the field of psychiatry. Graduates. International figures – Dubansky from Geneva comes to the university. Developments in making a name for the university.
00:55:15 UWA world ranking. A top university in Australia. Alan Robson. Building up of local talent and an outpouring of new graduates psychiatric and medical field. Standing up against Oxford and Cambridge. Interacting with other WA universities. UWA’s current path in research and teaching. Rural and remote education. Technology and health care at a distance.
00:59:30 Online mechanism - Inter Psych. High level medicine from outside the city. Depending on studies and research. Formidable research university. Looking back at UWA. Summing up the experience. Health care and availability. Technologies and flow charts. Developed in Tanzania. Looking back at the growth and education.



German, Allen, “Allen German interview, 4 October 2012,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,