Historical information

In 1974 Ms. Val Douglas was appointed as the first Social Worker at RDNS. This photograph is taken in her Office at RDNS Headquarters, 452 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne.
Ms Douglas graduated with her Degree of Social Work from the Columbia University in USA


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

This black and white photograph shows Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) Social Worker, Ms. Val Douglas, sitting behind her desk. She has short wavy dark hair; is wearing dark rimmed glasses, and is wearing a V neck, short sleeve, white, which is patterned with small grey oblongs, dress. She is smiling as she looks at the camera. She has a pencil in her right hand which is poised over a quarto sheet of paper which contains writing. A large blotter, clipboard and larger notepad are under this, and other sheets of paper, a notebook, and a receptacle holding several pens also sit on the dark wooden desk. Only a small section of the padded black chair she is sitting on is seen. On the right behind this, is a tall dark grey filing cabinet. On the left is a white shelf with a few books standing vertically on it and behind this part of a window is seen. To its right an open long dark curtain is seen.

Inscriptions & markings

Barry Sutton LY 65