Series VPRS 16683
Maternal and Child Health Services (Infant Welfare) Reports
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1927 - 1995
  Series in Custody 1927 - 1995
  Contents 1927 - 1995
Public Access: Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
 
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1927 - 1944 Department of Public Health VA 2904
1944 - 1978 Department of Health I VA 695
1978 - 1985 Health Commission of Victoria VA 652
1985 - 1992 Department of Community Services (also known as Community Services Victoria) VA 2633
1992 - 1995 Department of Health and Community Services VA 3092
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
2007 - cont Department of Education and Early Childhood Development VA 4840
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    Browse the list of records to identify items of interest. Items are listed in chronological order.

  • Function / Content
    Background

    The Maternal and Child Health Service (Infant Welfare) began in Victoria in 1917 when, in response to high levels of infant morbidity and mortality, the first voluntary infant welfare centres began to emerge. The first centres were established in Richmond and Carlton and received a Council subsidy.

    Other volunteer centres soon followed and in 1918 the Victorian Baby Health Centres Association was formed. The Minister of Health approved an annual Government subsidy on the condition that the local council matched the amount. The centres provided advice on the management of the well baby, including nutrition and food preparation. The sisters conducted home visits and expectant mothers were also welcomed at the centres. The Association set up a training school with a program for double-certificated nurses. Successful candidates were entitled to take charge of an infant welfare centre. By 1925 the voluntary Infant Welfare Association had established 71 centres in Local Governments with 52 nurses employed.

    In 1925 the Government appointed a Royal Commission to enquire into the welfare of women and children in Victoria, with Dr. Vera Scantlebury and Dr. Henrietta Main appointed to create a survey and report their findings and recommendations. As a result the Government created the Infant Welfare Section in the Department of Public Health (VA 2904) in 1926. The Infant Welfare section was responsible for implementing government policy in relation to infant welfare and in partnership with Local Government funded and monitored the Infant Welfare Centres across Victoria. It operated in within a legislative framework that included the requirements of the Births Notification Act 1930 (No. 3888).

    Recommendations of the Commission included the appointment of a Medical Director of Infant Welfare, the mandatory notification of all births to local Municipal Officers within 48 hours and recommendations that a specific training course for nurses wishing to undertake infant welfare work be instituted. The first proposed link with medical education was that medical students should attend mothercraft training centres for instruction during their undergraduate training. All of the above recommendations were implemented and Dr. Vera Scantlebury was appointed as the first Director of Infant Welfare.

    In 1934 the Victorian Baby Health Centres Association established a Mobile Infant Welfare Service for country mothers. In the early 1940s the Department of Health (VA 695) began its Mobile Service. Vans were used as mobile centres as well as providing accommodation for the nurses on the circuit. By the early 1950s the Department of Health had set up Mobile services in seven areas of the State, four of which were still operating in 1976.

    The Maternal and Child Health Service continues as a free service for families with children aged from birth to six years of age, with a focus on the health, development and wellbeing of children and their families. After many machinery of Government changes over the years the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development is currently responsible for the Statewide Maternal and Child Health Service.

    The Service currently has three major components; centre-based services, outreach/home visiting services (Enhanced Maternal and Child Health Service) and a 24 hour telephone advisory service (Maternal and Child Health Line). The service continues to be provided by registered nurses with midwifery and maternal and child health qualifications.
    P1- This consignment consists of annual reports of the Director of the Infant Welfare Branch and data reports of the Maternal and Child Health Service (Infant Welfare). The reports provide an official record of the service and its operation between 1927 and 1948. They appear to be mostly working drafts of the Director of Infant Welfare and are typed and printed copies with handwritten comments and amendments. There are also speech notes and handwritten data reports. There are multiple copies of some reports (possibly from various stages of drafting).

    The data reports provide information about birth notifications, numbers of children enrolled in the Service, numbers of children requiring medical attention, breast feeding and numbers of pregnant women attending the centres. The annual reports provided some analysis of the data and reports on the status of the service in Victoria. Some of the earlier reports were included in the Commission of Public Health Report (to Government). The data and analysis would also have been used to provide advice to Government Ministers and to inform policy directions and service quality improvement.

  • Recordkeeping System
    No formal recordkeeping system.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 1927 - 1995 Open 1
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