Agency VA 1239
The Royal Childrens Hospital [also known as RCH]
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Date Range: 1870 - cont
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
In 1870 Dr William Smith and Dr John Singleton founded the Free Hospital for Sick Children in premises at 39 Stephen Street (now 49 Exhibition Street), Melbourne. The accepted foundation date is 9 September 1870, when the inaugural meeting of the ladies' Committee of Management took place under its first president, Mrs Frances Perry. The hospital provided a free dispensary and outpatient clinic on the ground floor and six beds for inpatients on the first floor.

In 1871 the hospital became known as the Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children. In 1873 a site of one acre thirty-four perches on the corner of Gatehouse Street and The Avenue was temporarily reserved and trustees of the site appointed in 1875, however because of its remoteness at the time the Committee did not favour the site and nothing was built there until the mid-1900s. Instead, the Committee acquired the former home of judge Redmond Barry on a one-and-a-half acre site in Carlton and after conversion, the new hospital was opened on 27 September 1876. Over almost a century, the Carlton site was to be extensively redeveloped and expanded through acquisition of adjoining properties.

In 1903 the Committee formally changed the name from Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children to Children's Hospital. With the enactment of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1922 the corporate name given was The Children's Hospital, changed back to Children's Hospital on 30 August 1944 (announced in the Government Gazette of 27 September 1944). The Gazette of 4 November 1953 announced a further change of the corporate name under Section 50 of the Hospitals and Charities Act 5300 (1948) to Royal Children's Hospital following approval of the Royal prefix by the hospital's patron, Her Majesty the Queen.

As the hospital in Carlton became increasingly inadequate for current needs, planning began for building a new children's hospital. In 1948 a ten acre site in Royal Park (on the north-west corner of Gatehouse Street and Flemington Road) was designated by the government as the site for the new Children's Hospital. Construction commenced on 15 November 1951, a new nurses' home was completed in 1956 and the new Royal Children's Hospital was opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 25 February 1963.

As part of an overall Victorian Government strategy, the Royal Children's Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospital were aggregated on 1 August 1995 to form the Women's and Children's Health Care Network (from 1 July 2000 known as Women's and Children's Health) (VA 5016). Under the Health Services Act 1988, the corporate status of both hospitals was cancelled and replaced with the new corporate entity, however both hospitals continued to operate under their own names within the Women's and Children's Health Care Network, each represented by their own Executive Director, and they continued to produce reports on an annual basis, first called 'The Year in Review' and later 'Quality of Care' reports. On 1 July 2004, the two hospitals were disaggregated from Women's and Children's Health and the Royal Children's Hospital incorporated under the Health Services Act 1988 under the direction of a new board. The governance arrangements, by-laws and terms of property transfer (including rights to records and files) from Women's and Children's Health to the re-established corporate entities was set out in some detail in Victoria Government Gazette no. S159 of 30 June 2004.

In the State Budget handed down on 3 May 2005, the Victorian Government announced funding for a new 340-bed hospital and upgrades of some existing facilities. Work on the site, located next to the existing hospital, commenced in 2007 and the first stage of the new hospital was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen on 26 October 2011. The new hospital was built under a public-private partnership with Children's Health Partnership Pty Ltd, the site being leased back by the government over a 25-year period. At the time of writing (2013), most of the old hospital buildings have been demolished and stage 2 of the project is due to be completed by the end of 2014.

Other Properties

In 1883 the Committee purchases a site in Holyrood Street, Brighton, and built the Brighton Convalescent Cottage, which was opened in December 1884. After it burnt down in 1909, a house called "Edgecliff" in Beach Road, Hampton, was purchased and renovated to accommodate convalescent, heliotherapy and poliomyelitis patients, which continued there until 1957. In 1926 a 20-acre property at Frankston (now Mount Eliza) was acquired and the new Orthopaedic Section was constructed and opened on 3 March 1930. The Orthopaedic Section provided special treatment for patients suffering from tuberculosis of the legs and spine and from poliomyelitis. Pressure on convalescent accommodation during polio epidemics was partly eased in 1936 through the donation by philanthropist C M Wilson of four acres in Sherbrooke together with funds to build and operate a convalescent cottage. This operated until 1957 when the cottage was sold and the function transferred to the Sherbrooke unit established in the Orthopaedic Section at Frankston. Similarly, changing patient profiles and funding pressures led to the closure of the Hampton Convalescent Home in 1958. The Orthopaedic Section continued to operate until 1971, when its function was taken over by the Handicapped Children's Centre (later Department of Child Development and Rehabilitation) at the Royal Park site and in 1973 the property was resumed by the government as part of the Mount Eliza Home for the Aged.
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1890 - cont Minutes and Correspondence of the Medical Staff Association VPRS 16804 North Melbourne Open
? 1903 - Circa 1939 Nurse's Pronouncing Dictionary and other Publications VPRS 16834 North Melbourne Open
? 1908 - 1955 Secretary's Notebook VPRS 16813 North Melbourne Open
? 1911 - 1999 Autopsy Registers VPRS 16910 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1921 - 1967 Example Patient Case Histories VPRS 16828 North Melbourne Closed
? 1940 - 1994 Handicapped Children's Centre and Spastic Centre Daily Roll Books VPRS 16840 North Melbourne Closed
? 1947 - ? 1971 Register of Applicants for Nursing and other Positions. VPRS 16852 North Melbourne Part Open
? 1948 - 1995 Administrative Records of the 'Pied Pipers' and 'Uncle Bobs Club' Auxiliaries VPRS 16854 North Melbourne Open
? 1949 - ? 1987 Nurse Record Cards VPRS 16922 North Melbourne Closed
? 1951 - ? 1987 Nursing Academic Records VPRS 16860 North Melbourne Closed
? 1958 - 1972 Lady Superintendant's Reports VPRS 16865 North Melbourne Open
? 1966 - 1989 Register of Staff of the Pharmacy Department VPRS 16880 North Melbourne Closed
1870 - 1995 Minutes of the Committee of Management (1870-1992), Board of Management (1992-1995); Finance and House Committees (1944-1995) VPRS 16796 North Melbourne Open
1871 - By 1902 Case Book, Papers, Certificates and Objects of Dr William Snowball VPRS 16797 North Melbourne Open
1876 - 1910 Parchment Legal Documents VPRS 16798 North Melbourne Open
1877 - 1962 Annual Statements of Accounts VPRS 18363 North Melbourne Open
1886 - 1905 Rose Vaughan's Note Book VPRS 16800 North Melbourne Open
1890 - 1972 Index to the Committee of Management Minutes VPRS 16802 North Melbourne Open
1891 - 1971 Nurses' Certificates VPRS 16805 North Melbourne Open
1896 - 1984 General Correspondence Files VPRS 16807 North Melbourne Part Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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1870 - cont Health, public VF 125
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1995 - 2004 Women's and Children's Health Care Network (Women's and Children's Health from 2000) VA 5016
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1870 - cont Health and Welfare Agencies VRG 8