Historical information

Ms. J. Caeli is the RDNS Medical Records Librarian and is visiting Ms.Val Douglas, the RDNS Social Worker, in her Office at RDNS Headquarters, 452 St. Kilda Road,Melbourne. Ms. Caeli is giving instruction to Ms. Douglas regarding statistics for Social Work.


The Melbourne District Nursing Society (MDNS) were the first in Melbourne, in early 1928, to recognize some patients leaving the MDNS After-Care Home, and many at home, needed further social care. 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. In December 1934 the first full-time trained district Almoner, Miss Una Riall, was employed and carried out a great deal of work with the Society’s Midwifery patients. In 1935 she resigned as she felt the amount of work required needed more than one person. The Society were unable to obtain a replacement due to the shortage of trained Almoners so a Social Service Department was set up and a Social Service Officer, Sister Tupper, was employed at the After-Care Home; she successfully gained better housing from the Housing Commission for families living under unsuitable conditions. By 1941 conditions had improved with full employment of breadwinners and Sr. Tupper was appointed the Matron of the District Nursing Division of MDNS. In 1974, now as Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), it was recognized the Service needed allied health workers and Ms. Val Douglas was employed as the RDNS first Social Worker.

Physical description

On the left of this black and white photograph is Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS), Ms. J. Caeli, who has collar length dark curled hair and is wearing a light and dark patterned and striped shirt style frock. She is standing with her left hand resting on a desk, and looking down at a pen in her right hand which is poised over a sheet of white paper held by Ms Val Douglas who is sitting to her right behind her desk. Ms Douglas is wearing dark rimmed glasses; has short wavy dark hair and is wearing a white with small grey oblong patterned dress. She is looking up at Ms. Caeli and is holding the piece of paper with her left hand. There is a large blotter, sheets of folded papers, a stapler and a small bottle of glue on the desk. In the left background is a low white cupboard with a vase of flowers and books, standing upright, on it. Behind this is white framed window.and an open long dark curtain. In the rear far right is part of a dark grey filing cabinet.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton LY 64