Growing up, Raymond Rowe, known as Ray, knew a bit about The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) because his younger brother put on regular performances to raise money for the hospital during the Good Friday Appeal.
“He used to try and do it every year, he’d be up on the stage. It didn’t matter what song he’d just sing a song. He’d have the crowd around him … And then you’d get your tins and you’d go and collect, and then you’d go into the city and they’d empty it. They’d do a count and you’d be happy even if you made $50 for that day, you’ve done your job.”
Ray didn’t have anything more to do with the hospital until he began working there in 2007. After 26 years in the same factory job, the move to the RCH was quite a change for Ray.
“I had seen in The Age it was advertised there and I said to myself, ‘geez Ray, you’ve worked in a factory for 26 years and you’re coming to a place that you’ve never, ever worked in’, and I said to myself I’m going to give it a go. And I have never looked back.”
Joining the cleaning staff at the RCH, Ray quickly found himself part of a dedicated team. In fact, he describes his workplace like being part of a big family. Despite being such a large hospital with a diverse range of staff and skills, Ray finds that everyone respects everyone else. Working across different parts of the hospital, Ray has contact with lots of different staff members and patients. He always has a smile for anyone he meets.
“I believe you go out there and try and cheer people up a bit, that’s the way I am. If I can give them a five minute laugh or something like that, or put a smile on their face, I’ve done my job, that’s how I am. That’s why they turn around when I walk around and say, ‘How are you Ray?’ and all that kind of stuff. I think I’m probably the only one they know my name down there.”
It’s not just the staff that Ray has good relationships with, but also the patients. Sometimes children try to play tricks by hiding his cleaning trolley, which Ray finds amusing. “We had some real good fun”, he reflects, “you’ve got to have a bit of a sense of humour”.
After 13 years in the job, Ray still enjoys going to work each day and find his job particularly rewarding because of the uniqueness of his workplace.
“It’s a very special place … We’re giving back to what the children need, it’s a very special place.”
Listen to an audio extract from Raymond Rowe’s 2019 oral history interview
Transcription of audio extract:
“It’s pretty good what they’ve got today … They’ve got everything here today. They’ve got a cinema here, they’ve got the Starlight Room here, they can spend the whole day there, and they can go into the pictures and they can go and watch a movie, you’ve got your aquarium, you’ve got your meerkats. We didn’t have that at the old hospital and when you come over here it just opens their eyes. Just the colour, they love the colour, just to see it. It’s magic. It’s magic.”