Nursing history goes under the hammer at Ballarat

Nurses from all over Victoria are to gather in Ballarat for a farewell to historic Marian House, the former St John of God nursing school which is to be demolished to make way for a new modern nurse training complex.

The new building, which is now part of the Australian Catholic University, will include wards, an emergency department, day procedure unit, chapel and hydrotherapy pool, according to a Ballarat Courier report.

The nursing school opened in 1958 with an intake of just seven student nurses.

Among the many who passed through Marian House were Sr Assumption Neary (pictured) who taught there for nearly 20 years, Sr Barbara Matthews who trained at the school and Sr Lucilla Prendiville who was a clinical supervisor in midwifery for the students.

Sr Assumption said she would take a nostalgic walk around the building before it was demolished.

She said students came from all over northern Victoria, the western district and even interstate. In its prime the school housed between 90 and 100 first to final year students.

"Each one was unique in their own way and brought very special gifts," Sr Assumption said. "I loved it. It kept me young."

Sr Barbara said she spent three years living in Marian House as a student nurse.

She said there was a good sense of camaraderie among the students and when they came off duty they would sit and chat about the events of the day.

"I enjoyed living there, it was good fun," she said.

Sr Lucilla remembered the students she trained in midwifery.

"The students were young, vibrant and looking to learn. I'm sad to see it going, but it's going to be put to better use."

From 1958 to the late 1970s, students lived at Marian House for three years of training. Nursing education was transferred to the Australian Catholic University in 1988. The building was then used for consulting suites.

Demolition work will begin at Marian House in October and is expected to take three months.

Building will begin in May 2007 and is scheduled for completion by mid-2009, the Courier reports.

Nursing icon set for a final farewell (Ballarat Courier, 14/9/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Sisters of St John of God
St John of God Ballarat Healthcare

14 Sep 2006