|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
The Hospitals and Charitable Institutions Act 1864 required the incorporation of any institution, society or association, which was funded entirely or in part by voluntary contributions, and which had been established with the object of saving human life, promoting health, temperance or morality, preventing cruelty or vice or for other philanthropic or humane purposes. Such institutions were required to be governed by trustees and committees or boards of directors elected by contributors. Grants in aid were issued to the institutions subject to the condition that they submit statements of accounts and returns of contributions to the Treasurer. (See Estimates and Appropriations 1864).
An Inspector of Public Charities appears to have been first appointed in late 1880 within the Department of the Treasurer (VA 865). (See First Report of the Inspector of Public Charities, Papers Presented to Parliament, Session 1881, Vol.3). The position of Inspector had been recommended by the Royal Commission of 1870. The inspector undertook the investigation of the management, and audit of the accounts, of institutions receiving assistance from the Government.
Charities Board of Victoria 1923 to 1948
The Charities Board of Victoria (VA 2707) was established in 1923 under the provisions of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1922 (No.3260). The Board was responsible for benevolent societies and institutions which were supported in whole or in part by voluntary contributions and which had as one of their objects the provision of "charitable relief to diseased, infirm, incurable, poor or destitute persons (including children and convalescent patients)".
Many institutions were to be exempt from the provisions of the Act. These included institutions wholly maintained by the State; institutions established under the provisions of the Lunacy Acts, Mental Treatment Act 1915 and Inebriates Act 1915; hospitals receiving no aid from the State; municipal hospitals and institutions; institutions established by the Commonwealth Government; the Queen's Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital at Fairfield and the Sanatorium at Heatherton for patients suffering from tuberculosis.
The Charities Board was responsible for determining what charitable relief was required to meet the needs of diseased, infirm, incurable, poor or destitute persons resident in Victoria and which institutions or benevolent societies should be subsidized. The Board was also responsible for the allocation of funds from the Hospitals and Charities Fund which was to be established and kept in the Treasury in accordance with section 42 of the Act. The Board could recommend to the Minister that subsidized institutions be closed or amalgamated and that subsidized benevolent societies cease to exist, if they believed them to be mismanaged or to be failing to effectively provide the services for which they were responsible. The Board could also recommend for what purposes a subsidized institution should be used.
From the commencement of the Act no institution or benevolent society could be established without the prior consent of the Board and all existing institutions and societies were to apply to be registered with the Board. Unregistered institutions and societies were not eligible to receive funds from the Hospitals and Charities Fund, consolidated revenue or municipalities and were prevented from making appeals for voluntary contributions. The Board was empowered to refuse or cancel the registration of an institution.
The Act further provided for the incorporation and government of hospitals and philanthropic institutions other than those run by religious denominations; the regulation of fund raising; the liability of patients for the cost of their care and treatment; the resumption of land for the benefit of institutions and the making and publication of regulations. The second and third schedules to the Act listed the names of existing incorporated institutions and separate institutions (i.e. those established by religious denominations).
In 1944 responsibility for administration of the Hospitals and Charities Acts was assumed by the Minister of Health (VRG 39).
Hospitals and Charities Commission 1948 to 1978
In 1948 following the proclamation of the Hospitals and Charities Act 1948 (No.5300) the powers and responsibilities of the Charities Board were assumed by the newly established Hospitals and Charities Commission (VA 693). The Commission assumed responsibility for functions previously administered by the Charities Board. The Commission consisted of three full time members appointed by the Governor-in-Council, of whom one was to be a person qualified in hospital administration.
In summary the functions for which the Commission was responsible were:
establishment and management of public hospitals and later community health centres
midwifery and infant care
recruitment, training and conditions of employment for nurses
training of hospital administrators
classification and training of medical staff
registration and management of agencies providing residential care for the aged, the destitute, children, convalescent and chronically ill patients and physically or sensorily disabled persons.
The Hospitals and Charities Commission, like its predecessor, was responsible for determining what charitable relief was required to meet the needs of persons resident in Victoria and which institutions and benevolent societies should be subsidized. The Commission was also responsible for the financial administration of the Hospitals and Charities Fund and for the allocation of funds for salaries and expenses of the Commission and its officers and employees, for the establishment and maintenance of subsidized institutions and benevolent societies and for capital works and the purchase of equipment.
The Commission was responsible for the registration and inspection of hospitals and unsubsidized institutions and the administration and financial management of all subsidized institutions and benevolent societies. Under certain conditions the Commission could recommend the closure or amalgamation of subsidized institutions other than those run by religious denominations.
The Act required that institutions and benevolent societies other than those exempt from the provisions of the Act (see section 4) be registered with the Commission which was empowered to cancel or amend the registration of an institution. Unregistered institutions were not eligible to receive government funding and were prohibited from seeking voluntary contributions and no institution could be established without the prior consent of the Commission.
One of the major functions of the Commission was the co-ordination and rationalisation of hospital and institutional activities and it was empowered to make recommendations regarding the amendment of existing legislation and proposals for "the improvement of and prevention of overlapping in, the administration of institutions and benevolent societies" (section 18). The Commission exercised control over the allocation of funds and institutions were required to submit their budgets for approval. The Commission also exercised control over capital works and could determine the location and extent of all new buildings, the accommodation to be provided and the allocation of beds between , intermediate and public wards.
The Commission was also empowered to establish a bureau to assist in the admission of patients to hospitals and to furnish information in relation to nursing and hospital matters; to authorise or require the committee of management of any hospital to establish facilities for the care of convalescent or incurable persons and for persons suffering a chronic illness and to require hospitals to establish and maintain district nursing services and ambulance services. All ambulance services were to be registered and were subject to the supervision of the Commission.
The Commission, at the request of the Commission of Public Health (VA 694), could also arrange for the supervision of units established for the care of persons suffering from tuberculosis but the admission and treatment of patients remained the responsibility of the Commission of Public Health.
The Commission was required to promote and arrange for the collective buying of standard equipment, furnishings and supplies and it maintained an Equipment Section which assessed and made recommendations as to the purchase of major items of furniture and equipment. The collective purchasing of standard equipment was arranged through the Victorian Hospitals' Association, a non profit company in which the hospitals were shareholders.
The Commission was to establish a system of training for hospital administrators and in consultation with the Nurses Board to make provision for the training of nurses.
The Hospitals and Charities Act 1948 also provided for the incorporation and government of hospitals and philanthropic institutions, the liability of patients, the resumption of land for the benefit of an institution and the compensation of the owners of the land, and the regulation of fund raising activities.
Establishment of the Health Commission
In 1978, following the proclamation of the Health Commission Act 1977 (No.9023), the Health Commission of Victoria (VA 652) was established in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into Hospital and Health Services in Victoria whose report had been presented to the Minister of Health (VRG 39) in July 1975.
The establishment of the Health Commission represented a major re-organisation of health services in Victoria and for the first time responsibility for the central administration of health services was vested in a single agency. The Health Commission assumed responsibility for all functions previously administered by the Department of Health I (VA 695), the Mental Health Authority (VA 692), the Commission of Public Health (VA 694) and the Hospitals and Charities Commission. The Health Commission Act 1977 also provided for the transfer to the Public Service of all staff previously employed by the Hospitals and Charities Commission.
The Hospitals Division of the Health Commission assumed responsibility for:
administering the Hospital and Charities Acts and the Hospitals section of the Health Act of 1958 (Sections 178-186)
planning, developing, monitoring and controlling the operation of hospitals, ambulance services, some community health centres and extended care facilities
registering both government and hospitals, nursing homes, benevolent societies and other institutions
training and educating medical, nursing and other health service personnel, and staffing government hospitals and institutions
providing medical assessment, treatment, referral and paramedical in-patient and out-patient services
providing food services to hospitals etc and Meals-on-Wheels to the community
providing an interpreter and migrant health service and extended care and transport service to the aged and disabled
administering fund raising appeals
undertaking research into improving and treating community health, developing and implementing innovations where appropriate and formulating policy regarding technology in the health area.