Strathbogie Shire Council

Tel 24/7: 1800 065 993

MCH celebrates 100 years in Victoria

Thursday, 7 September, 2017

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

President of the Euroa Historical Society, 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.

100 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, as 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.

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

The Maternal and Child Health Centre that is utilised today opened in Euroa in December 1963.

By June 1996 services had expanded to cover the whole Shire, with the employment of our current long-serving nurse Jane Davey.

Jane said things were much different back then.

"We hand-wrote everything and there were no mobile phones," Jane said.

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

Today, Victoria has over 662 physical Maternal and Child Health Centres and over 1100 MCH nurses, delivering over 827,000 consultations each year.

"Maternal and child health is a terribly important role that councils play in their local communities," Jane said.

"In rural areas, the maternal and child health nurse is a free point of contact for parents to get support for themselves and their children."

Jane has thoroughly enjoyed the years of nursing with Strathbogie Shire Council.

"I really enjoy working with families and mothers groups and helping parents bond with their babies and grow in confidence," she said.

Jane is so grateful to now have Nurse Cheryl Kearney and Alana Morrison in admin assisting her with the workload.

Strathbogie Shire Mayor Amanda McClaren said Council is so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to support children and parents in the region.

"Council would like to acknowledge the dedication and hard work of Maternal and Child Health nurses that have served our Shire and across Victoria over the last 100 years," she said.

"Our children are our future and this service has been absolutely crucial in ensuring their health and wellbeing."

To celebrate the momentous occasion, Strathbogie Shire Council welcomes all to attend a morning tea and display of historical maternal and child health items in the Council Chambers on Wednesday, 13 September at 10am.

This will be followed by a free documentary screening of Babies [G] in the Euroa Community Cinema.

Please RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Council on 5795 0000 for catering purposes.


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