– 150 years of history at The Royal Children’s Hospital –

A concise and chronological record of the rich and diverse 150-year history of The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH).
Please feel free to scroll through all 150 years or easily filter information via categories or tags.

The historical images have been sourced from the RCH Archives and Collections, unless stated otherwise.
Images have been chosen to illustrate the subject matter and may not necessarily reflect the date of the event.

The RCH has produced such an immense amount of groundbreaking achievements and we cannot assume to have captured them all here.
Do you think an achievement, person, or event is missing? Please send your suggestion to: archives@rch.org.au. We hope you enjoy exploring!

Showing Events Tagged with: nurses

1870
First Nurse for Inpatients
Mrs Bail was the first nurse employed by the hospital. She remained on staff at the hospital until 1878.
1873
Matron Marion Harvey
Harvey was appointed the new role of matron. She had a staff of two nurses; Head Nurse Mrs Bail and Assistant Nurse Anna Ford.
1875
Matron Sarah Anne Bishop
Appointed as matron, Bishop worked in the role until 1899. She had a significant influence on the hospital in its formative years.
1878
1886
Nurse Rose Vaughan
Vaughan trained at the Children’s and her training notes still exist today.
Image credit: Alvin Aquino
1887
Nurse Training School Officially Recognised
Training has long been an important facet of the hospital’s operations, especially in the early years when paediatric care was still developing as a specialty discipline.
1888
Nurse Grace Jennings Carmichael
Carmichael began nurse training at the Children’s. She was a published poet and her time at the hospital inspired many writings.
1889
Nurse Training Given an Overhaul
Formal lectures and examinations were introduced, with badges and certificates awarded to successful trainees.
1899
Matron Hilda Player
Appointed matron, she stayed in the role until 1920.
1907
John Robertson Nurses’ Home
Opened on Rathdowne Street, the new nurses' home replaced damp and overcrowded pre-existing quarters.
1918
Change in Working Conditions
After protests, the regular working week for nurses was reduced to 56 hours a week.
Image credit: PROV, VA 1239 The Royal Children's Hospital, VPRS 16800/P1 Rose Vaughan's Note Book, Unit 1 Rose Vaughan's Note Book November 1886 and October 1905. Digitised copy.
1920
Matron Grace Wilson
Appointed as matron, Wilson was a great advocate for the improvement of working conditions for nurses.
1921
League of Former Trainees and Associates (LOFT) Established
LOFT supports an annual scholarship for nursing research and provides a platform for members to maintain relationships and connections with the hospital.
Nurse Ivy Silverthorne Flower
Flower began nurse training in 1921, became a staff nurse in 1924 and was appointed deputy matron in 1934. She remained involved with the hospital until 1962.
1922
Matron Hilda Walsh
Appointed as matron, Walsh maintained efficiency and order on the wards. Due to retire in 1940, she stayed until 1947 because of the war.
1930
Matron Ina Laidlaw
First matron of The Children's Orthopaedic Hospital. Laidlaw remained in the role until 1950.
1947
Matron Lucy de Neeve
De Neeve was with the hospital until 1962 and was a great advocate for the nursing profession, fondly remembered by her staff.
1948
1952
First Male Trainee Nurse
Approved as a training school for male nurses in 1946, it wasn’t until 1952 that the nursing school received an application from a man.
1957
Development of a Postgraduate Course in Paediatric Nursing
1958
A New Nurses’ Home
The first building to be completed on the new Parkville lot - nurses were shuttled back and forth to the Carlton hospital.
Image credit: Laurie Richards Studio
1962
Nurse Elizabeth Jackson
Jackson became one of the first nurses to be sponsored to train overseas. Her leadership of the Psychiatric Unit was crucial to its success.
Matron Joan Gendle
The first hospital-trained nurse to gain the director of nursing position. Gendle oversaw the nursing staff during the move to Parkville and stayed in the role until 1969.
1969
Matron Elaine Orr
Previously matron at The Children’s Orthopaedic Hospital, Orr was recruited as director of nursing for the main hospital. She introduced modernisations to nursing uniforms.
1977
Ferguson House Formally Opened
Situated on Flemington Road, Ferguson House provided accommodation for hospital staff members.
1986
Victorian Nurses’ Strike
The hospital’s paediatric nurses are among the few statewide who remained ‘on the job’.
1987
End of Hospital-run Nurse Training
Last students graduated from the school of nursing run by the hospital.