This year the City of Greater Bendigo has marked the 100th centenary of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) services in Bendigo.
City of Greater Bendigo Mayor Andrea Metcalf said in Victoria the first Baby Health Centre commenced operating in Melbourne in 1917 with Bendigo opening its first centre in a room at the Bendigo Town Hall some four years later in 1921 to prevent infants dying from starvation and disease.
“During the first eight months of Bendigo’s first centre, 230 individual babies were attended to, the total number of visits to the centre was 1395 and 752 visits were made to homes by the lone Infant Welfare Nurse, Sister Walford.” Cr Metcalf said.
“In 1935, due to the success of the Bendigo Centre, State Government funding was obtained for the training of new Infant Welfare sisters and for the construction of a new Baby Health Care centre at View Point in Rosalind Park which opened on April 7, 1936.
“At the opening of the View Point Baby Heath Centre the Mayor of the day, Cr J A Michelsen said that since the service had been operating, Bendigo had achieved a reduction in infant mortality of more than 50 per cent.
“This was an amazing achievement and the success of the Bendigo Baby Health Centre resulted in the establishment of other centres in surrounding rural districts.
“From humble beginnings and only one nurse, this service has grown over the past 100 years in Greater Bendigo to include 10 centres and 32 MCH nurses and nowadays the City’s MCH service provides over 12,496 consultations in our centres and more than 4,100 consultations by phone.
“Over the years, the service has evolved from a surveillance and illness model to a health promotion model that provides a free service for all Victorian children and their families, from birth to school age. It gives children the best start in life by providing free check-ups at key stages of their development as well as a 24-hour, seven days a week maternal and child health line (13 22 29), to advise and assist families with children.
“While a lot has changed in the past 100 years, the MCH service has remained free and accessible to all Victorian families since the day it began.
“Over the past 100 years MCH services have gone on to be one of the City’s most valued community services and it’s important to mark this important milestone and recognise the great work of the City’s nursing staff who deliver the service to local families.
“Victoria is the only state in Australia that requires Maternal and Child Health nurses to be midwives and nurses, as well as complete specialist post graduate training in Maternal and Child Health and I acknowledge the fantastic work of all Greater Bendigo’s past and present MCH staff for giving babies and young children the best start in life.”