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History of St John of God Ballarat - 1953 – Fundraising for the hospital

As renovations stalled due to a lack of funding, there were two key factors that lead to the completion of the hospital. One was a loan by the brother of Bishop O’Collins and the second, which has become an integral part of the hospital, was the Ladies’ Auxiliary.

Ladies Auxiliary presenting cheque
Ladies’ Auxiliary presenting a cheque to Sister Anacletus Walsh

A loan to the rescue

A large loan was raised from the City Mutual Life Assurance Company in 1952 to try to finish the rest of the project. The bishop’s brother, Frank O’Collins, was one of the company’s directors and ‘is very sympathetic and anxious to assist’, wrote Roy Dobson, a Ballarat solicitor who provided the Sisters with legal advice for many years.

The establishment of the Ladies’ Auxiliary

The establishment of the Ladies’ Auxiliary in 1953 proved to be essential to the ongoing fundraising effort that was needed to steadily prepare and open more sections of the new hospital. Convened by Mrs Torney, 28 women attended the first meeting on 8 April at the Wattle Tearooms in Lydiard Street. Mrs Greening was elected the President, with Mrs McGoldrick, Miss Andre, Mrs Mason, Mrs Delaney and Mrs Faulkner also elected to the committee.

Branches of the auxiliary were established in towns east of Ballarat, at Bungaree and Springbank. All members of the committee paid a five-shilling subscription to start a bank account. Father Kerins donated £100.  Fundraising commenced with card parties, a dance, a fete, a golf gymkhana at Mt Xavier Golf Course, the raffle of a car, and the contributions made by the country subcommittees.

At the first annual meeting in June 1954, attended by the Bishop, Sisters, parish priests, mayor and mayoress and members of parliament, the auxiliary reported its success. It had equipped a new operating theatre at a cost of £1,470. By 1959, the Ladies’ Auxiliary had amassed nearly £25,000, and its fundraising zeal continued unabated into the 1960s. A third country branch, at Waubra, north-west of Ballarat, was also part of the auxiliary by this time. By 1968, about $58,000 had been raised. That year, the auxiliary contributed $3,400 to the $8,200 needed to equip the new outpatients department, and in 1969 the auxiliary’s aim was to supply coronary care equipment worth $3,500.

What’s next?

The opening of the St John of God Ballarat School of Nursing in the newly completed hospital.