Historical information

This image shows two of the 'Melbourne District Nursing Society After Care Home' Sisters who worked in the After Care section of the Society during the 1930s. The image was taken on the balcony of the After Care Home at 39 Victoria Parade, Collingwood. It depicts the style of uniforms worn by trained nurses (Sisters) in that era.


The Society were pioneers in recognizing the need for premises where patients too ill to be in their own home, but not ill enough to go to hospital, was needed, and the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) built, then opened, the After-Care Home in 1926, (from 1934 called After-Care Hospital), for these patients, and patients from Melbourne Hospitals who required recuperation before returning to their home. Many children were nursed there, some long term during the Polio epidemic, and the Society employed two School Teachers. The Society now ran two divisions, the After-Care with its own nursing staff and the District division. The Society were the first in Melbourne, in early 1928, to recognize some patients leaving the After-Care, and many at home, needed further social care and they set up ‘Almoners’ from their committee to visit these patients and be intermediaries in getting them social assistance. It was late the following year before the first training of Almoners took place in Melbourne. In 1930 the Society employed a full time kindergarten teacher to visit poor children in their homes. That year the Society were pioneers in opening an Ante-Natal Clinic at the After-Care, setting a high standard with equipment, keeping records and providing leaflets with instructions in how to keep healthy during pregnancy, what complications to look for and what to do when labour commenced. In 1934 the Society were pioneers again when they opened the first Women’s Welfare Clinic in Melbourne giving advice on birth-control, at first attended by their own patients, but then accepting patients from public hospitals until their own clinics were opened. A trained Almoner was employed in 1934 but only stayed twelve months due to the amount of work required. Due to shortage of trained Almoners, a Social Service Officer was employed at the After-Care who successfully gained better housing from the Housing Commission for families living under unsuitable conditions.
In the 1950s the Hospital and Charities Commission decided to take over the After-Care Hospital, so the Melbourne District Nursing Society and After-Care Hospital separated and the Melbourne District Nursing Service was formed, setting up Headquarters at 452 St. Kilda Road. With Royal patronage the name changed in 1966 to Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS).

Physical description

Digital image of two Sisters from the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) After-Care Home standing on the balcony of their building. The Sister on the left hand side is wearing a dark cape over her white uniform; she wears a white veil over her dark hair. The Sister on the right hand side is wearing a long white apron over her grey uniform which has white cuffs on the sleeves. She is wearing a white veil over her dark hair. They are leaning on the scrolled metal rail of the balcony which runs along the grey building; part of which can be seen behind them.