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    Una Porter, courtesy of Brown Prior Anderson Pty Ltd.
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Exhibitions

  • Faith, Hope and Charity Australian Women and Imperial Honours: 1901-1989
  • In Her Gift: Women Philanthropists in Australian History

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Porter, Una Beatrice (1900 - 1996)

Dr, OBE, CBE

Born
17 October 1900
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died
24 June 1996
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Psychiatrist and Philanthropist
Alternative Names
  • Cato, Una Beatrice (maiden name)

Summary

Una B. Porter (née Cato) was a renowned psychiatrist, philanthropist and devotee of the Methodist Church in Melbourne, Victoria. She was the first female member of staff at Ballarat Mental Hospital in 1946. In 1963 she was elected World President of the YWCA and travelled extensively. In recognition of her services to the community she was appointed Officer of the British Empire (OBE) in 1961, and Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1968.

Details

Una B. Porter was the youngest daughter of Fanny (née Bethune) and Frederick John Cato, prominent businessman and co-founder of the Moran & Cato grocery company, known for his generosity and commitment to the Methodist Church. From her parents Una inherited a deep and lasting Christian faith that would become the driving force behind her own career and philanthropic activities.

Though Una was forced to cease her formal education at the age of 14 owing to ill health, she returned to study at the age of 30, matriculating before gaining entry to the University of Melbourne as a medical student. There she specialised in psychiatry and trained at Prince Henry's Hospital, the Royal Park Mental Hospital and the Children's Hospital, before taking a post in 1946 at the Ballarat Mental Hospital where she was the first female member of staff, overseeing 512 female patients. She later worked in private practice and was instrumental in the establishment of a psychiatric clinic at the Queen Victoria Hospital, where she continued work in her retirement as Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist and counsellor for nurses.

In 1946 Una married James Roland Porter, an ex-RAAF squadron leader and lifelong friend.

Throughout her life, Una maintained a strong link with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and in 1963 was elected World President of this organisation. Her post, which she retained for four years, involved frequent overseas travel (including India, the Philippines, Europe, North and South America, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Greece, Africa and Israel), advising and encouraging local YWCA groups. In 1964 she was elected Woman of the Year.

Una's philanthropic work was extensive. In addition to administering the F.J. Cato Charitable and Benevolent Fund together with the Cato Lectureship, and later the James and Una Porter Trust Fund, she made substantial personal donations to hospitals, universities and community organisations, notably the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Epworth Hospital, Methodist Ladies College, Cato College, Queen Victoria Hospital and of course the YWCA.

Una B. Porter was appointed O.B.E. (1961) and C.B.E. (1968) in recognition of her services to the community.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Una Porter, CBE, OBE 1900-1996', Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 1996; Blainey, Ann, If God Prospers Me: A Portrait of Frederick John Cato, Brown Prior Anderson Pty Ltd, Victoria, 1990; East, Ronald, 'Cato, Frederick John (1858-1935)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070598b.htm; Papers of Dr Una B. Porter, 1881 - 1996, Accession #97/2; Porter, Una Beatrice (1900 - 1996); The University of Melbourne Archives; Porter, Una B. (ed.), Growing Together: Letters between Frederick John Cato and Frances Bethune, 1881 to 1884, Queensberry Hill Press, 1981.

Related entries

President

Archival resources

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Lyceum Club (Melbourne) Records, 1912 - 1970, MS 11270; State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

The University of Melbourne Archives

  • Papers of Dr Una B. Porter, 1881 - 1996, Accession #97/2; Porter, Una Beatrice (1900 - 1996); The University of Melbourne Archives. Details

Digital resources

Title
Una Porter
Type
Image
Publisher
Brown Prior Anderson Pty Ltd

Details

Barbara Lemon

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

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

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