Kevin Hume 1918 - 2009

Kevin Hume

Kevin Hume's lifetime devoted to medicine included 62 years as a general practitioner and more than half of those years promoting natural family planning.

He travelled around the world attending conferences, running workshops, giving papers and liaising with international non-government organisations in support of the Billings ovulation method of contraception.

He trained family planning teachers in Aboriginal and Pacific Islander communities and in more than 20 other countries. He became involved in politics and stood for both the state and federal upper houses on a platform of Christian family life with a strong anti-abortion stance.

A member of the Call to Australia party (now the Christian Democrats), Hume was also president of the Reverend Fred Nile's Festival of Light organisation. In 1986 he was quoted in the press saying that AIDS was the best thing that had happened to the human race since the Black Death because it taught the dangers of sexual promiscuity.

Nile claimed that Hume had been misquoted, but added: "Those who engage in promiscuity, particularly homosexual promiscuity … are not innocent victims". Later, however, Hume, as president of the Families of Australia Foundation, encouraged the setting up of an AIDS hospice.

Kevin Francis Hamilton Hume, who has died at 90, was born in Coogee, the third of four children of Walter Hume and his wife Veronica Jones; he was not descended from Hamilton Hume the explorer.

Family history relates that when the baby was due, Veronica was being helped by a midwife at home, with a bottle of brandy at hand. By the time the baby was ready, the midwife had passed out; Kevin's sister, Lurline, fetched a nearby aunt to help with the birth.

Walter Hume was a real estate agent, who was still working as a bookkeeper at 97 before dying at 98. A mainstay of the Parks and Playground Movement, he worked for many years to save inner-city parks from development.

Kevin went to school in Bondi then to Waverley College. When the Depression forced Walter into bankruptcy in 1931, Kevin worked outside school hours as a golf caddy to help out, and learned the game that became a passion.

At Waverley College, he was a prefect, member of the rugby first XV, the cricket second XI and a champion swimmer. His 1936 Leaving Certificate class of 40 produced five papal knights, eight doctors, three lawyers, one cricket umpire and a priest. Hume then went on to study medicine at the University of Sydney.

He met Peggy (Margaret) Lawless through his parish youth club. She had other suitors but his persistence paid off and they were married in 1943. Hume, newly graduated, was called into the army, serving in Western Australia and Borneo.

Returning home in 1946, he set up his practice in Randwick, where he remained until he retired in early 2008. For many of those years, he worked from Monday to Saturday in the surgery and was on-call day and night for emergencies and home visits. He co-ran a diabetes clinic at St Vincent's Hospital and an antenatal clinic at St Margaret's Hospital for Women, and served on ministerial advisory committees for the NSW Health Department and the Commonwealth Department of Veteran Affairs.

As his seven children started to leave home, Hume had more time to develop other interests, especially in natural family planning. He was friends with the Melbourne-based doctors John and Evelyn Billings, who had developed the ovulation method that Hume saw as a practical and free alternative to artificial contraception.

Hume stood for the NSW Upper House with the Call to Australia party, founded by Fred Nile, in 1984 and for the Senate in 1990, but was unsuccessful both times.

Peggy's health gradually deteriorated and when Hume could no longer care for her at home, he visited her every day at a nursing home, fed her the evening meal and read to her. After she died in 2006, his own health began to decline.

Kevin Hume was a daily communicant in his church and received a papal knighthood in 1994. He is survived by his children Carmel (Niland), Frank, Joan, Kevin, Tess, Michael and Margie, their spouses, 17 grandchildren and sister Lurline.

Harriet Veitch
By permission of the Sydney Morning Herald