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Benevolent Society of New South Wales (1813 - )

From
1813
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupations
Welfare organisation
Alternative Names
  • The Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge and Benevolence (former name, 1813 - 1818)
Website
http://www.bensoc.asn.au
Location
Level 1, 188 Oxford Street, Paddington, NSW 2021 Phone: (02) 9339 8000 Fax: (02) 9360 2319

Summary

The Benevolent Society of New South Wales was the first charitable organisation to be established in Australia. It aims were 'to relieve the poor, the distressed, the aged, the infirm,' to discourage begging and to 'encourage industrious habits' among the poor and to provide them with religious instruction. In 1820 a Ladies Committee was established to attend cases of poor married women during their confinement. This service marked the beginning of the District Nursing service in Australia. In line with the changing needs of pregnant women, the Benevolent Society built and opened the Royal Hospital for Women in 1905 and was responsible for its administration until 1992 when it handed it over to the state government. The Society continues to work in the field of social welfare in New South Wales.

Details

In 1823 the initial Ladies' Committee severed its connection with the Benevolent Society and continued to operate as a separate society. By 1878 the Benevolent Society had appointed a Ladies' Committee to assume responsibility for interviewing all applicants for admission to the Asylum, which had been established in 1821.

After incorporation of the Society in 1902, the first board of directors included three women, the first to be elected to the Board of Management. They were Mrs Binney, a subscribers' representative, Mrs Buzacott and Mrs Cruickshank, government nominees. Lady Renwick was president of the Ladies' Committee while her husband, Sir Arthur Renwick was the president of the Benevolent Society.

The Ladies' Committee had suggested the name of Royal Hospital for Women and had been responsible for furnishing the new hospital together with funds from individual donors. Nevertheless, by 1913 the Society decided to disband the Ladies' Committee believing it had outlived its usefulness. The official reason for its demise was that the executive powers that the Ladies' Committee sought were not provided for under the Act of Incorporation. The real reason appeared to be their interference in the day to day operation of the hospital, which had caused tension between the matron, the medical staff and the Committee. The longest serving member of the Committee, Mrs N Paton was co-opted on to the Board of the Society as a director.

Sources used to compile this entry: Rathbone, R. W. ( Ronald, William), A very present help: caring for Australians since 1813: the history of the Benevolent Society of New South Wales, State Library of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1994, 237 pp.

Related entries

Archival resources

Benevolent Society of New South Wales

  • Benevolent Society of New South Wales records, 1955 - ; Benevolent Society of New South Wales (1813 - ); Benevolent Society of New South Wales. Details

State Library of New South Wales

  • Benevolent Society of New South Wales records, 1813 - 1995, MLMSS 6091; Benevolent Society of New South Wales (1813 - ); State Library of New South Wales. Details

Rosemary Francis and Carolyne Carter

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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