|Lennox Street Hospital; Maryborough, Qld, after 1875.|
Early Australian hospitals not only catered to those who had been injured through accident, but also for invalids with chronic illnesses. Gradually these hospitals became repositories for the aged who had no family to care for them, as well as for younger, disabled folk until purpose-built asylums were constructed.
Those who could afford it, received attention from a doctor privately and those who could not afford to pay were not required to do so as some Government subsidy was allocated annually to hospitals to be distributed in charity. However, to gain admission to a hospital they had to be certified as destitute by a reputable person, such as a clergyman or magistrate, and required the word of a doctor that their admission was essential.
The early Maryborough Hospital was no exception. The minutes of the Hospitals Management Committee regularly indicate funds being allocated to those who were deemed in need from their Benevolent Fund. The Committee also referred individuals to other care institutions such as the Benevolent Asylum in Brisbane, orphanages and other shelters. A section of the minutes from the Maryborough Hospital Committee of Management dated 9th March 1875:
….correspondence was read from the Colonial Secretary, stating that the application made by the Hospital authorities for the admission of John Barkley to the Benevolent Asylum must for the present be refused, owing to the crowded state of that institution. The application could, however, be renewed at any future time. A second letter from the Colonial Secretary's office was read, granting application for admission of two children (Wise) to the Orphanage. The Hospital authorities, however, would have to arrange for sending the children to Brisbane. Mr. S. G. Hill said he had sufficient funds in hand on account of the children to pay for their passage down.
But the Government allocation was becoming inadequate as Maryborough's population increased. By the mid 1870s, the greatest burden on the hospital was the number of sick and indigent persons brought to the town by each immigrant ship. Deputations were made by the Hospital Committee to increase the allocation. A public voice for a separate Benevolent Society was also becoming increasingly heard.
See article – Maryborough Chronicle 18.12.1875 – which is the case of Mrs Jones as an example with a call for a separate benevolent association for Maryborough found in full here on our Historypin site.
Article as follows:
We fear that the case of Mrs. Jones, brought before the Hospital Committee at their last sitting, is not an isolated one in this good town of Maryborough. She is the mother of four young children, one being an infant but ten days old. It is possible, or even probable that the poor woman or her children might have perished from want — of absolute starvation — had it not been that her state of destitution became accidentally known to Mr. S. G. Hill, on the occasion, of her registering the birth of her youngest one, and who, noticing her extreme debility questioned and elicited the following facts, reluctantly told. With her husband and family she had arrived in the colony by the Star Queen. The husband had obtained a few days' work, but, as a stranger, had failed to secure any permanent employment. At last he determined to start upcountry, promising to write to his wife as soon as he should be in a position to forward her any money. He has not, however, been heard of since be left. Meantime, the wife has been confined, yet has almost managed to keep the wolf from the door by selling the few sticks of furniture she had collected, and the clothes which she and her children so much needed. Now even this miserable expedient fails her, for she has parted with everything that would fetch money. The Hospital Committee allowed her five shillings a week — as large a sum as they could with justice spare from the Benevolent Fund in their keeping. From this five shillings a week she has to pay rent, and feed and clothe herself and her four children! It surely but requires such a case as the above to be made known for relief to be freely accorded. But this is not enough. It requires an organized committee— an association who will seek out those who 'suffer grief and pain,' and who, like Mrs. Jones, don't know of the existence of the Benevolent Fund, or knowing, refuse to seek its aid. Such an association might, work in unison with the Hospital Committee. There would be no difficulty in collecting money in such a cause. How much money has been collected during the past twelve months to ' grease the fat pig,' and thus to follow the Bible teaching, ' To him that hath shall be given' How much pain and physical distress might have been saved had that amount, or even the tenth part of it, been placed to the credit of a Ladies' Benevolent Association. We repeat, there is no lack of funds for such a cause, for, from the frailest to the purest — from Nell Gwynn to Florance Nightingale — all would subscribe, for ' One touch of nature makes the whole world kin ?' Mrs. Jones vegetates near Mr. Berry's, at Irish Town.
- A thematic heritage study on Australia’s benevolent and other care institutions – Thematic
Study, Commonwealth of Australia, 2016
- Wide Bay Hospitals Museum Soc. Inc.
Published with consent from Marilyn Jensen.
Tags #Maryborough #benevolentsociety #poor #Hospital #committee.