Historical information

Dr Unice (Una) Beatrice Porter, OBE, CBE (1900 - 1996)
Una Porter was the youngest daughter of Frederick John Cato and his wife Fanny (née Bethune). She had 3 sisters and 4 brothers. Her father was of course the prominent businessman and co-founder of the Moran & Cato grocery company who was known for his generosity and commitment to the Methodist Church. Given this background it is not surprising that Una inherited a deep and lasting Christian faith that would become the driving force behind her own career and philanthropic activities.
Una was educated at Methodist Ladies College and the English boarding school "Farringtons" however her formal education ended at the age of 14 due to ill health. By the outbreak of the First World War her sisters were married and her brothers enlisted. Una became very close to her father and assisted him in establishing hospitals and missions in Arnhem Land, Fiji and India.

Una returned to formal study and matriculated at the age of 30. A niece with diabetes was the catalyst which led Una to study medicine. She enrolled at the University of Melbourne in 1933 and subsequently specialised in psychiatry with training at Prince Henry's Hospital, the Royal Park Mental Hospital and the Children's Hospital. In 1946 she took a post at the Ballarat Mental Hospital. Here she was the first female member of staff, overseeing 512 female patients. She later worked in private practice and was instrumental in the establishment of a psychiatric clinic at the Queen Victoria Hospital.
Throughout her life, Una maintained a strong link with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and in 1963 was elected as the World President of this organisation and in 1964 she was elected Woman of the Year.
Una's philanthropic work was extensive. In addition to administering the F.J. Cato Charitable and Benevolent Trust and later the James and Una Porter Trust Fund, she made substantial personal donations to hospitals, universities and community organisations including the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Epworth Hospital, Methodist Ladies College, Cato College, Queen Victoria Hospital and the YWCA. It is estimated that she gave over $1 million to various hospitals and institutions. Some of her projects included establishing a scholarship for rural female students to attend university, a Chair in Psychiatry, and extensive research into early childhood development. Una B. Porter was appointed O.B.E. (1961) and C.B.E. (1968) in recognition of her services to the community.
At the age of 46 Una married James Roland Porter, an ex-RAAF squadron leader and a lifelong friend. Until this time, Dr Porter had lived at the Cato family home, ‘Kawarau’ at 192-198 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn (later Stephanie’s restaurant). In spite of having qualified as a doctor and with all her philanthropic activities, at age 43 the electoral rolls give her status as ‘home duties’!
Dr Porter’s connection with Surrey Hills came after her marriage. In 1948 she and her husband bought 8 Kent Road.

Physical description

A black and white photograph of a screened image of a lady sitting in a winged-back chair. She is wearing a knee length dress with three-quarter length sleeves, and beads around her neck and wrist.