Historical information

The District nurses are leaving from their Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) Nurses Home, which was situated at 39 Victoria Parade, Collingwood. Their MDNS uniform dresses and coats depicted are grey, and a red Maltese cross is attached to the centre of the headband on their grey brimmed hats. The Sisters will visit MDNS patients and provide nursing care to them in their homes.


From its founding in 1885 until 1891 the Trained nurses (Nurses) of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) worked from their own homes which were located in the vicinity of their areas (districts). In November 1891 MDNS was able to rent a two story terraced house at 66 Cardigan Street, Carlton, at £65 a year, which contained accommodation for three Nurses and one pupil nurse as well as being used as their Headquarters. They left from their Nurses Home each morning and returned at the end of their shift to write up their book work before retiring for the day. Three years later they moved into a larger terraced house at 49 Drummond Street Carlton which was rented at ‘a very moderate rental’. There was a Board room, apartments for the Nurses and pupil nurse, a large dispensary which patients could attend each evening to have prescriptions signed and bottles refilled with ‘homely remedies’ and elixirs, which were administered for e.g. to Consumptive cases. Doctor’s prescriptions were filled at the Pharmacy. Cupboards containing donated blankets and bedclothes for needy patients were kept in this room, and it was here where the Nurses kept their equipment and nursing bags which were refilled at the end of each shift ready for any emergency, and for the next day. A list of Doctors the Nurses could call was kept by the telephone. The home also had a kitchen where nourishing soup was made and distributed twice a week to the needy. Milk was also distributed when needed.
In 1902 they moved into rented premises at 188 Leicester Street, Carlton and two years later, in 1904, to premises at 5 Royal Terrace, Nicholson Street, Fitzroy. They remained there for ten years and an Auction of furniture was held before their next move giving an idea of some of the contents: - Carpets, linoleum, walnut and oak sideboards, dining tables, walnut dining suite, Vienna chairs, walnut bedroom suite, cedar wardrobes, chests of drawers, duchess chests, bedsteads and bedding and general furnishings were for sale.
In June 1914 at last the Society had sufficient funding to purchase their own terraced premises, ‘Floraston’ 39 Victoria Parade, Collingwood which was their Headquarters and Nurses Home. In 1926 the After-Care Home for recovering patients, (later called After-Care Hospital) was built by the Society next door, at 45 Victoria Parade; the District nurses continued to live at No. 39. In November 1953 the District Nursing Division moved into their new Headquarters and Nurses Home at 452 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne. In 1957 the two divisions legally separated and the District division became the Melbourne District Nursing Service.
As District expanded, and now with outlying districts to service, and with a fleet of District cars, their trained nurses (Sisters) lived in their own homes and visited their closest District Centre each morning to collect their work for the day, and returned at the end of their shift to do their administrative work.

Physical description

A small black and white photograph showing a side on view of Matron Lydia Shaw who is smiling. She is standing outside the Nurses Home of the Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS), and is wearing a white long sleeved belted uniform dress, white stockings, shoes, and a veil over her short dark hair.. She is standing to the left, outside the front gate of the building watching a group of district nurses about to leave the Home. The group are on a path behind the four trained nurses (Sisters) most visible who are dressed in grey belted long sleeved coats which have lapels. They are wearing grey brimmed hats with a Maltese cross in the centre, flesh coloured stockings and black shoes. The first two Sisters are side by side and have just stepped onto the pavement; the one to the right is smiling and slightly turned toward Matron Shaw. Under their coats, both these Sisters are wearing grey scarves around their necks. There is a square concrete column behind Matron Shaw, and another to the right of the nurses. From the right column three metal vertical fence bars are seen with shrubs behind them. Part of a building and doorway can be seen behind the nurses. A brick wall and path is seen on the far left of the photograph.

Inscriptions & markings

The date 1934 as well as the name of Matron Shaw, Sister Jones and Sister Tupper were hand written on the back of the photograph