Series VPRS 16682
Maternal and Child Health Service (Infant Welfare) Photographic Collection
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.

    Descriptions of photographs are provided in lists of records for all consignments. Names of infant welfare centres or geographical locations are included where possible.

  • 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.

    Photographic Collection

    The photographic collection records aspects of the Infant Welfare Service including centre-based, home-based and rural work, children's institutions and the involvement of State and Local Governments, for example, the official openings of infant welfare centres. The photographs provide a record of centres as they were built and opened throughout Victoria. The original purpose and reason for the creation of these photographs is unknown but it is likely that they served several functions, including increasing awareness of and promotion of the service to the public, ministerial reporting on activities (notes on some photos indicate that they were intended for use in annual reports) and as a general record of the functions and activities of the service.

    The collection has been separated into three parts, based on format:

    P1 - framed photographs

    This consignment consists of photographs that were displayed as part of the Jubilee Conference on Maternal and Child Health in 1976 and then selected to be framed and displayed for the 75th Jubilee, held in 2001. Photographs not considered suitable for framing at the time can be found in the P2 consignment. The photographs date from 1927 to the mid 1940s, and document various aspects of the Infant Welfare Service. Subject matter includes the rural Infant Welfare Circuit, the Better Farming Train in rural Victoria and mothers with their children in front of the Infant Welfare van.

    P2 - Large unframed mounted photographs

    This consignment consists of 30 mounted unframed photographs that depict aspects of the service and departmental responsibilities dating from the 1940s to the 1980s. These include photographs of the department office and officers (1946), the infant welfare vans (internal and external), babies' homes (including mothercraft nurses), a dental and pre-natal clinic, a series of family shots taken in the 1950s and service activities taken in 1987. Along with the contents of the P1 consignment, these photographs would have been displayed at the Jubilee Conference on Maternal and Child Health in 1976.


    P3 - Individual Prints and Slides

    This consignment consists of individual photographs of various sizes, including 106 slides and the contents of 269 individual envelopes. Subject matter includes maternal and child health centres (infant welfare), centre-based services including families and nurses, rural outreach services, official opening of centres with various officers of the Department and mothers group activities. The dates range from 1938 to 1995.

    Notes on the back of some prints indicate that they may have been published in annual reports.

  • Recordkeeping System
    No formal recordkeeping system.

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 1927 - Circa 1945 Open 9
P0002 Circa 1945 - Circa 1985 Open 32
P0003 1938 - 1995 Open 5
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