The Royal Children’s Hospital Volunteer Service began in July 1961 to address the growing need for language interpretation assistance required by migrant families visiting the hospital.

Based upon the operations of volunteer services within American hospitals, Miss Carmen Winter was employed as Honorary Director of this new service. Within 18 months the volunteers had to rapidly expand to support a new and much larger hospital. The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Parkville, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip in February 1963.

This purpose-built site included a crèche and play room area, and was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Uncle Bobs Club. Under the watchful and strict gaze of Miss Winter, newly recruited volunteers had a mandatory four month service in the crèche before other duties were allowed. Broader responsibilities for the volunteers included providing tours of the hospital, sewing uniforms, filing, manning the enquiry desk and counting pills in the pharmacy, to name just a few.

The RCH archives and collections holds volunteer memorabilia from throughout its 60-year history, including a significant collection of photographs. Pink Ladies of a Very Good Type showcases digital enlargements of original silver gelatin photographs capturing volunteers on duty in the 1970s. These photographs highlight the demand and accelerated growth within the first ten years of service. The volunteers were, and continue to be, a crucial part of the hospital.