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The French gave her their highest civilian honour and called her ‘The Guardian of the Anzacs’ - a Bishop in the House of Lords called her ‘the world’s wickedest woman’. HG Wells called her ‘that unforgettable heroine’


There are two lines about her in Australia’s war history, but they don’t mention her most important work. New Zealand’s leaves her out entirely.


So what is the truth that could not be told?


In World War I Ettie Rout ran a complete sexual health service for the Anzac troops in Paris. She met them on the station, guided them to Madame Yvonne’s brothel which she regularly inspected, looked after them when they were sick and ran a counselling service. She outraged society by advocating ‘safe sex’ for the soldiers six decades before that term was invented. Born in Launceston and raised in New Zealand, she was loved by the soldiers but died alone in tragic circumstances.


Although New Zealand historian Jane Tolerton has written a wonderful biography on Ettie, very few Australians have heard of her. From A Life of Ettie Rout:

Equipped with a wicked sense of humour, an intolerance of hypocrisy, a body to rival Venus de Milo (according to her physical culturist husband) and enormous energy, Ettie Rout fought for socialism and sexual freedom, seeing herself as a catalyst for change


The Ettie Project uses theatre to engage young audiences with Ettie’s extraordinary life. Although true to the historical documents in which her story resides, including hundreds of Ettie’s own letters, the project is drama not documentary.


Arguably, Ettie saved more lives than any other individual during the Great War. It is time her story was told. 

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