Cel­e­brat­ing 100 years

Seymour Telegraph - - NEWS - Strath­bo­gie Shire’s cur­rent Ma­ter­nal and Child Health Nurse Jane Davey (right) and her cus­tomer con­tact of­fi­cer Alana Mor­ri­son. World War II.

Ma­ter­nal and Child Health in the Strath­bo­gie Shire re­gion is a very dif­fer­ent re­al­ity today than when it first be­gan in 1937.

Euroa His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Roma Joyce re­calls a time around 1960 when the in­fant wel­fare cen­tre op­er­ated out of a tiny room at the Coun­cil of­fice.

‘‘The room was so small we had to leave our prams out­side, and if it was rain­ing you just had to throw some­thing over the pram and hope for the best,’’ she said.

Ma­ter­nal and Child Health is cel­e­brat­ing 100 years in Vic­to­ria this year.

One hun­dred years ago was an even greater con­trast to today.

In 1914, 10 to 11 per cent of ba­bies born in Mel­bourne died be­fore their first birth­day.

Such alarm­ing mor­tal­ity rates prompted an in­ter­na­tional in­fant wel­fare move­ment and saw a com­mit­tee of Mel­bourne med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers rec­om­mend the es­tab­lish­ment of baby health clin­ics across Vic­to­ria.

Poverty and lack of ed­u­ca­tion were the ma­jor con­cerns dur­ing this time, with many deaths caused by pre­ven­ta­tive dis­eases as­so­ci­ated with un­re­frig­er­ated milk, be­cause breast­feed­ing was un­pop­u­lar at the time.

The first baby health cen­tre was es­tab­lished in Rich­mond in 1917 with Nurse Muriel Peck, who started with one set of scales, a desk and a note­book.

By 1927 there were 99 cen­tres across the state and in­fant mor­tal­ity rates had halved.

Strath­bo­gie Shire’s first Ma­ter­nal and Child Health nurse was Foun­da­tion Sis­ter Cather­ine Fa­hey, who be­gan con­sult­ing in 1937 and vis­ited Euroa and Vi­o­let Town.

By June 1996, ser­vices had ex­panded to cover the whole shire, with the em­ploy­ment of cur­rent long-serv­ing nurse Jane Davey, who said things were much dif­fer­ent back then.

‘‘We hand-wrote ev­ery­thing and there were no mo­bile phones,’’ she said.

‘‘With such a large area to cover, be­ing the only nurse for the Shire was very chal­leng­ing at times.’’

Chal­leng­ing work:

Dif­fer­ent time: Ma­ter­nal and Child Health nurses work­ing dur­ing

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