Volunteer Association dedicated to preserving hospital history.

About us

The concept of a medical presence at the Rockhampton Heritage Village was first proposed by the late Dr Conrad Primmer OAM following a visit to the site more than 15 years ago. Senior Rockhampton medical, dental and nursing personnel then formed a Steering Committee which within a year had established the Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association Inc in 1998. The Association merged with the Rockhampton Hospital Museum Association Inc. that was started in 1976 by senior nurse Yvonne Kelley.[1] Until his death in 2014, Dr Primmer OAM was the Patron of the Association and Yvonne Kelley OAM is currently the Archivist.

The collection started with nursing records and has grown to incorporate all aspects of health care delivery.  A hospital museum which was originally located in the grounds of the Rockhampton Hospital was strongly supported by the then Hospitals Board and was opened by the Minister for Health in 1988.  It operated until 1998 when the building was appropriated for redevelopment.  The collection was further enhanced when the Board allowed the retention of hospital furniture and equipment when the old hospital buildings (some dating back to 1868) were demolished to make way for the redevelopment.

The Association's collection features:

  • Hospital furniture and equipment;
  • Items used for patient care;
  • Hospital and nursing staff uniforms;
  • Education records for nursing courses;
  • Medical and nursing texts and journals;
  • Dental and pharmaceutical materials;
  • Oral histories of health professionals;
  • Nursing certificates and badges;
  • Photographs of hospital staff and buildings;
  • Printed and visual media articles featuring local hospitals and health professionals.

In 2000, agreement was reached with the Rockhampton City Council that would allow for the development of a Country Hospital Museum at the Heritage Village.  The formal Vision of the Association was:

"To establish a building at the Rockhampton Heritage Village to represent a typical country hospital reminiscent of the early 20th century, and to present within this building innovative displays of Hospital and Health Service History using Best Practice Museum Principles".

While a portion of the Association's collection was on display for almost ten years at the Heritage Village in a former Lakes Creek workers cottage (see photograph below), the formal Vision of the Association was realized with the Official Opening on 21 November 2009 of the Country Hospital Museum at the Village.

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Lakes Creek Worker's Cottage, Rockhampton Heritage Village

With the support of the Queensland Government and the Rockhampton City Council, the Association was able to relocate the former 1946-vintage Mount Morgan Hospital Matron and Sisters' quarters to the Village where it has been fully refurbished. The major part of the refurbishment was undertaken by the Queensland Department of Works (QBuild) after an amount of $60,000 was allocated as as part of Q150 funding. It is most appropriate that the Vision became a reality and the new Museum opened during Queensland's 150th anniversary as a State.  

Association members, assisted by volunteers, spent many months setting up displays in an industry-standard museum facility with separate rooms devoted to each aspect of a typical country hospital's operation. These include a Doctor's room, a general two bed ward with nursery section, an operating theatre, pan room, treatment room, dental surgery, a mother and child room, a pharmacy and a typical nurse's bedroom. Special displays are devoted to the Westwood Sanatorium, the Iron Lung and poliomyelitis. There is also a library and records area which will be available to researchers.

The photograph below shows the museum building on opening day. The pot plants along the front have now been replaced by a sandstone fence incorportaing gates which were originally part of the Canning Street fence at the Rockhampton Hospital.

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The Country Hospital Museum at the Rockhampton HeritageVillage

Association members are continuing their work on activities such as documenting the collection, developing this website and collecting and processing oral histories from key practitioners.

Although much of the display is relatively static, the Association does have a program of "changing displays" managed by committee member Ashley Reid. This is designed to encourage return visits to the Museum. Since 2014, a major focus of these displays has been the commemoration of the centenary of World War 1, in particular recognising service by nurses who had links to Central Queensland.

In recognition of the work undertaken, the Association was awarded a 2007 Gallery and Museum Achievement Award (GAMAA). The Awards are made by Museum and Gallery Services Queensland, the peak industry body for museums and galleries throughout the State.  ACHHA was the winner in the category for volunteer run organisations on the basis of the work done to relocate the Mt Morgan building to the Heritage Village.ACHHA GAMAA Awards

In the 2010 awards, announced on 16 October, the judges awarded the Association a "Special Commendation" which recognised "the sustained and strategic volunteer effort by the Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association in delivering this massive project".

This is the third time the Association has been recognised by Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. In 2004, the President, Yvonne Kelley received an individual award for her many years of untiring work for the Association.

The photo at left shows then Vice-President Norma West with the 2007 GAMAA trophy while then President Yvonne Kelley displays the trophy for her 2004 Award.

In 2008, Committee's then President Yvonne Kelley was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) "for service to the preservation of health care history in Central Queensland, and to the community of Rockhampton".

The Museum received a commendation in both the 2009 and 2010 ABC Radio National Regional Museums Award.

Association members recognise that achieving the Vision has required a great deal of support from many quarters. We are pleased to make the following acknowledgements:

  • The Queensland Government which donated the former Mt Morgan Hospital Matron and Sisters' Quarters (through Queensland Health), provided $165,000 inc. GST for moving the building to the Heritage Village (through the Premier's Department), and $60,000 to QBuild for the refurbishment of the building (from Q150 funding);
  • The Rockhampton Regional Council (formerly the Rockhampton City Council) for providing a lease on part of the Heritage Village site at a nominal rental, and providing many other services such as landscaping, security, cleaning and insurance as well as donating some fittings for the building;
  • Staff and Friends of the Heritage Village for extensive volunteer support and for opening and closing the building each day and providing support for visitors when members of the Association are not on hand;
  • Many small businesses and individuals who have supported us through the donation of goods and services and cash which has enabled us to further develop the displays. In particular we acknowledge a $7,827 donation from AFS Pharmacies towards the Pharmacy display;
  • And most importantly, the many health provider organisations, individuals and families who have been prepared to donate the valuable memorabilia which makes up our collection.

 

 

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Sources

1. Information from the Australian Country Hospital Heritage Association Archives.

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