Celebrating 100 Years of Maternal and Child Health Nursing
In 2017, Victoria's Maternal and Child Health Nursing Service celebrated 100 years of support and guidance provided to families with babies and young children.
Born of Necessity
In 1914, 2,835 babies died in Victoria before reaching their first birthday.
In 1917, a group of dedicated women established the first Baby Health Centre in Richmond in response to concerns about unacceptably high infant mortality rates.
Within a short period of time several Baby Health Centres were established in metropolitan and rural areas.
Centres often began in temporary rooms prior to permanent facilities being built. The centres needed to be accessible for mothers with prams and consultations were free of charge without appointment. News of the centres was spread by word of mouth, local newspapers and churches. Mobile services visited isolated rural areas to demonstrate the benefit of the nursing care and to encourage Councils to have a permanent facility.
Maternal and Child Health Nurses are primary health care providers, often the first point of contact a family has with a health professional following discharge from hospital services. The nursing role has expanded in response to the changing circumstances of families. Research evidence indicates the importance of the early years in a child's life and the vital role of Maternal and Child Health Nurses in providing support at this time.
How far we've come!
Today more than 827,000 consultations are conducted with families each year in Victoria by approximately 1,100 nurses, who have qualifications in general nursing, midwifery and Maternal, Child and Family Health with minimum education at Graduate Diploma level.
The service is free of charge to all families with children from birth up to six years of age and provides regular checks at key stages of development.
Vision for Service
All Victorian children will have the opportunity to optimize their health, learning, development and wellbeing during the period from birth to school age.
The Maternal and Child Health Nursing Service supports families in the areas of parenting, health, learning and development, promotion of health, wellbeing and safety, social supports and referrals. At consultations parents/carers can discuss concerns, talk about their parenting experience and optimize the health, learning and development of their children.