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Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts.

Woman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers online

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Work in British Colonies and the East. 337



intervals of employment ; " and that institution is open to
all, without distinction of country or creed. The Ladies'
Benevolent Society receives liberal aid from the Government
of Victoria. There are forty-two Ladies' Benevolent Societies
throughout the colony, and from July ist, 1890, to June 3Oth,
1891, these distributed relief to 7853 individuals, at a cost
of 13,679 us. 4^. The outlay for administration, etc., was
;i8ii 19^. 3d r . The latter figures speak well for the manage-
ment of the societies.

In every department of women's work in the colony of
Victoria high excellence has been attained ; in none has its
zeal and fidelity been more fruitful of good result and more
worthy of warm recognition than in the " Reformatory
Schools." The whole subject of the development and
v/orking of the Preventive and Reformatory system of
Victoria is of primary interest and importance, and we have
the word of the Agent- General for the colony for the high
place which women hold in the administration of that
system. The means of dealing with girls of the reformatory
class are threefold. There is a Government reformatory for
Protestant girls at Coburg, near Melbourne ; a private
reformatory for Roman Catholic girls, conducted by the
Nuns of the Good Shepherd, at Oakleigh, ten miles from
Melbourne ; and a private reformatory for Protestant girls
at Brookside, 112 miles from the capital. The latter was
established and is conducted by Mrs. Rowe, and has, together
with the Good Shepherd Reformatory, State assistance and
inspection. Mr. Brett's reports on all three institutions
speak highly of the efficiency of the management, and
hopefully of the results.

The history of the Brookside Reformatory is singularly
interesting, for the institution is not merely of the modified
penal kind, with which we generally associate the term ; it
comes in also under the heading of Industrial Schools, in
which Victoria is very strong. In its report of 1872, the Royal
Commission on Reformatory and Industrial Schools, while
commending the work carried on by the ladies of the Roman
Catholic Church, represented the extreme desirability of
similar work as regards Protestant girls being in private rather
than official hands, in consideration of the former system's

Z



338 Womaris Mission.



greater facilities for bringing religious influences to bear upon
their reclamation and training. Similar representations, urged
by the Secretary in the Departmental Report for Parliament
for 1886, decided the foundress of the Brookside Reformatory
to attempt the work. The school, which began with six
inmates, had, in 1891, thirty-one in residence in two cottages,
fourteen seniors being in one, with two ladies in charge, and
seventeen juniors under the superintendence of two other
ladies in the second. In addition to these, a considerable
number of the girls who have gone through the school course
are now placed at service in the farmhouses and families
around, earning wages according to their abilities, being visited
in their situations from time to time by Mrs. Rowe, her
matrons, and the members of her Committee of Advice. Mrs.
Rowe and the Nuns of the Good Shepherd have the same
entire control and guardianship over their wards as that en-
joyed by the superintendent of the Boys' Reformatory, a
Government institution. At Geelong there is a Reformatory
and an Industrial School under the charge of nuns, receiving
Government assistance and inspection. These institutions, in
their later development, are comparatively new and in the
day of small things ; but they are of vast moment, and the
women who are devoting themselves to this difficult work are
doing the very best of patriotic service. The Ladies' Board-
ing-Out Committees are admirably organized and efficient ;
the success of the boarding-out system in Victoria is marked.
Among the charitable institutions or societies other than
those already mentioned, in the management of which women
are immediately concerned, we find, in the metropolis, a
Convalescent Home for Women, St. Vincent de Paul's Girls'
Orphanage, the Abbotsford Refuge for Fallen Women, and
an Infant Asylum. These, with the Provincial Orphanage
for Girls (Geelong), make five important fields of philan-
thropical action occupied by women. We now come to the
charitable institutions, in the management of which women
co-operate with men on the committee of management, and,
as we learn from the reports of the Inspector, with the best
results. Those in Melbourne are the Austin Hospital for
Incurables, the Hospital for Sick Children, the Women's
Hospital and Infirmary, the Convalescent Home for Men,



Work in British Colonies and the East. 339



the Melbourne Orphan Asylum, the Collingwood Refuge, the
Carlton Refuge, the South Yarra Home, the Salvation Army
Rescue Home, the Elizabeth Fry's Retreat. The provincial
institutions in the management of which men and women
co-operate on the committee of management are the Con-
sumptive Sanatorium at Echuca, the Ballarat Refuge, and
the Geelong Refuge. The official reports on all these
are interesting reading, and full of encouragement for the
future of the colony, which is so solicitous for the young, the
weak, the sick, the fallen, the poor, in short for all suffering
humanity, and finds so many woman-hands, heads, and hearts,
all fit and ready for the most onerous tasks. In this place
we may note that Mr. Brett is careful to make special refer-
ence to the important subject of the nursing of the sick, and
the trained and competent staff" of female nurses who are
taking up the work of nursing in the hospitals of Victoria.
He says, " The number of women is 273 as compared with
45 men, and the testimony is all in favour of the special
aptitude of women for such work, and the good they have
done in raising the tone of our institutions."

Special information concerning women's philanthropic
work in New South Wales has reached us too late to enable
us to give the particulars in so full detail as it deserves and
as we desire, but even the list of the institutions worked by
women is a noble record, and it is especially rich in provision
for the relief of children. The Hospital for Sick Children is
managed by a mixed board of men and women, but the latter
are practically the directors of the institution. The hospital
receives the sick children of the poor, irrespective of creed,
and has a staff of trained nurses. The Asylum for Deaf,
Dumb, and Blind Children, which is also chiefly a woman's
province, is of high excellence, and has been pronounced by
experts to be equal in merit to the world-famous American
institutions of its kind. The best modern teachers are
provided for " the disinherited ones," whose course of instruc-
tion, in addition to that of the ordinary schools, includes
music, singing, and domestic duties. The Infants' Home,
originally the Sydney Foundling Hospital, is entirely women's
work in its origin. In 1873 ^ ve ladies determined that they



34O Woman s Mission.



would do something to check the crime of infanticide,
numerous cases having occurred in Sydney, and accordingly
founded the asylum. Some years of struggle and difficulty
ensued, but a more recent period has witnessed the prosperity
of the Infants' Home, now assisted by the Government, and
long since supported by the warm sympathy of the public.
The great aim of the protectors of the poor little waifs who
are thrown upon the charity of the institution, is to give
them the elements of a home and family, and this is found
to be most effectually done by what is now well known as
the Cottage System. The boarding-out of destitute children
in healthy country homes has proved a successful enterprise,
and is entirely due to the exertions of a society of ladies
which was formed in 1879. At that time the "barrack
system " only prevailed. There were four refuges, viz. the
Catholic and Protestant Asylum Schools, the Randwick
Asylum, and the Sydney Benevolent Asylum. In 1881
the scheme had so far justified itself by results that it was
placed under official control, and a statute was passed by
the Legislature, entitled " The State Children's Relief Act,"
under which a Board was appointed to control the boarded-
out children, and this Board included the ladies who had
initiated the movement. At the end of the first official
year there were fifty-nine children in homes, at the end of
the tenth year the number stood at 2369 ; and boarding-
out was then generally recognized as the national policy
for dealing with children of the State. All the depen-
dent children supported by the Government had been with-
drawn from the Randwick Asylum, and the denominational
orphanages had ceased to exist. Two of three ladies who
inaugurated this great reform, and who were known in the
colony as " the dauntless three," Mrs. Garran, Mrs. Jefferis,
and Mrs. (now Lady) Windeyer, still continue their labours,
and the Misses Garran have acted for years as Hon. Secre-
taries. Lady visitors in the principal inland towns regularly
visit the boarded-out children.

The Sydney Benevolent Asylum has a lying-in branch
which is entirely managed by women ; this is also a training
establishment for midwives. There are fifteen benevolent
societies, similarly constituted and managed, dispersed among



Work in British Colonies and the East. 341



the principal districts of New South Wales. The Lisgar
House School, supported by Mrs. Scott, an establishment
at which poor children are boarded, lodged, and educated,
has been in beneficent existence for many years. Coming
to the hospitals' work, we find in our special report, as " one
of the noblest monuments of women's work, the labours of
thirty- five years among the sick and suffering of all creeds by
the Sisters of Charity, who are the managers of St. Vincent's
Hospital at Sydney." It was in 1855, upon his return from
Europe, that Archbishop Folding brought with him a small
band of Sisters of Charity, who were so impressed with the
need for greater hospital accommodation in Sydney, that
within a year after their arrival they began to collect for the
establishment of a free hospital under their care. In 1857
a little unpretending house was opened, with eight beds.
We have no space in which to tell its progressive history, but
must mention that medical men volunteered their help ; the
Government gave a grant of land for a new building in 1862 ;
and in 1863 Archbishop Folding laid the foundation-stone of
St. Vincent's Hospital on the site now covered with a hand-
some pile of building. We must pass on to the record most
nearly up to date. In 1886 Lord Carrington laid the founda-
tion-stone of the second half of the building ; and last
November (1892) Lord Jersey opened yet another wing.
The number of in-patients during 1891 was 1354, of out-
patients, 7044, so vast is the work that has grown out of such
small beginnings. The management is exclusively in the
hands of the Sisters of Charity, and twelve medical men give
their sedulous services to this hospital. St Joseph's Hospital
for Consumptives at Paramatta was founded in 1889, and is
managed by the Sisters of Charity ; and there is also under
their care in Sydney a Hospice for the dying.

A Home for the Aged Poor is conducted by the Little
Sisters of the Poor on precisely the same lines as the well-
known institution in London. Old and infirm persons of
both sexes and all creeds are the inmates. A Children's
Hospital at Petersham, a Magdalene Retreat, a Providence
Home, two Orphanages, an Industrial School and Home,
conducted on the Leichhardt system, at which young girls
are taught trades by the Sisters, and an Industrial Orphan



34 2 Woman's Mission.



Reformatory, are among the Roman Catholic institutions
inaugurated, conducted, and managed by women.

An interesting feature of women's work in New South
Wales is the Female School of Industry, a Church of England
institution, founded in 1826 by Lady Darling, the wife of the
then Governor of the Colony. It is one of the earliest
foundations, and was established for the maintenance and
training in cooking and domestic duties of fifty female children
of poor persons, This course of instruction includes reading,
writing, the first four rules of arithmetic, plain needlework,
knitting, and spinning. We have not exhausted the list of
women's philanthropical work in the Colony of New South
Wales by the foregoing examples, but we are unable to enter
more fully into the deeply interesting and encouraging
statement before us. At fifteen years of age the children
are apprenticed to subscribers, who are members of the
Protestant Church, the committee standing in loco parentis
until the child reaches the age of eighteen. This institution
is well worked, and highly esteemed in the colony, where it
is the only one of its kind. The Young Women's Christian
Association and the Working and Factory Girls' Club are
admirable examples of women's work, and are growing
rapidly.

We have been favoured with several items of interesting
information from the colony of Queensland, where women
are working on so many lines that the space at our disposal
does not enable us to do justice to the extent and multiplicity
of their labours. Here again we find the Ladies' Benevolent
Society in active work in the capital and elsewhere, admirably
organized and generously supported. The rules of the North
Brisbane Benevolent Society are very full and elaborate.
The payment of a monthly subscription of one shilling
entitles any lady to membership. Gentlemen are only per-
mitted to subscribe. The objects of the society are almost
identical in all the colonies, and the institution is evidently a
favourite one in each of them.

A special interest attaches to the Lady Musgrave Lodge
and Training Institute for single girl immigrants and others,
which was established in 1885, and whose full history to the



Work in British Colonies and the East. 343



end of last year is available for our purpose. The establish-
ment, on unsectarian principles, of a home for friendless and
especially immigrant girls, where they find guardianship,
protection, and friendship, with comfortable conditions and
no rigid rules, except those dictated by common sense, was a
boon of great magnitude, and the benevolent intention of the
foundress, Lady Musgrave, who still continues to take an
interest in the Lodge, has been warmly seconded. The Lady
Musgrave Lodge has rapidly risen from modest beginnings
to so flourishing a condition that a vast and handsome edifice
(of which Lady Norman laid the first stone on the ist of
August, 1891) has been erected to replace the first Lodge,
become insufficient for the inmates. During the six years of
its existence, the institution had grown with such rapidity
that at the date of the report for 1892, hundreds of young
women were finding help, shelter, and guidance every
year. The Lodge is now a home and registry office for
trained nurses, young women in business, and domestic
servants.

It is unnecessary to dwell upon the benefits which such
an institution confers, not only upon the individuals of the
immigrant class, in whose interest it was founded, but in
relieving the anxiety and lessening the pain of those partings
and disruptions of family life which are inevitable in the
struggle for the means of bread-winning. During the year
1891, 1 133 women were received into the lodge, a large propor-
tion of these being girls who had come to the colony entirely
unprotected, and without any means of support in the event
of their being dismissed from their employment. This
excellent institution now receives State assistance, and is
regarded with great favour by the Premier, Sir S. W. Griffith.
With the occupation of the new building, the activity of the
work has been extended by the appointment of corresponding
members, with whom communication may be held concerning
the welfare of young women as they move from place to
place either from or to Brisbane. Ladies have been appointed
to act as corresponding members in all the important towns
of the colony, and thus the bond of humane interest and
kindly superintendence is maintained between their first
friends among strangers and the immigrant girls, and the



344 Woman s Mission.



latter are not severed from the moral shelter of their first
home in a strange land.

In 1889, 2265 girls went to Queensland from England,
and more than one-half of these landed in Brisbane. We
learn from Miss Keith, the secretary, that prior to the estab-
lishment of the Lady Musgrave Lodge attempts had been
made to befriend the girl-immigrants, who were met on their
arrival at the Immigration Depot, and put in communication
with an association which was afterwards merged in the
Girls' Protection Society. Experience, however, proved the
impossibility of carrying out this work efficiently without a
Home in which the large number of young women who
applied for help and guidance might be cared for until suit-
able situations could be found for them. To meet this
necessity the Lady Musgrave Lodge was established, and its
seven years' history proves that its promoters were not mis-
taken in their idea of the requirements of the case. The
advantages of the new Lodge include training-classes in the
domestic arts, and courses of lessons in cookery, so that
immigrant girls may not only be provided with situations,
but qualified to fill them. Lectures on nursing by a qualified
physician are provided for aspirants to that profession. The
management is by a ladies' committee, and the secretary is a
lady. The institution is an object of the deepest interest,
actively displayed, to the ladies of Brisbane ; and we may
judge of the economy with which it is ruled by the fact that
the only paid officials in -the large establishment are the
matron and two female servants. In the new Lodge there is
ample accommodation for all possible requirements in con-
nection with the work. Every boarder can now secure a
separate bedroom, with the use of sitting-room, dining-room,
lavatories, baths, and cool roomy balconies. When we add
to these particulars the special advantages which have been
secured to the immigrant candidates for admission to the
Lady Musgrave Lodge, by arrangement with the large Steam
Navigation Companies, we think it may fairly be claimed for
the women's work of Queensland that it has created an insti-
tution of exceptional value, and is maintaining its life and
usefulness.

We know from our own experience in England that



Work in British Colonies and the East. 345



sympathy with, and help for, the suffering of young children
are ready everywhere ; and we are therefore prepared to find
the Hospital for Sick Children in Brisbane a favourite
charitable institution. The story of its rise and progress is
of unusual interest, for it had its origin in the merciful and
energetic action of one lady. At an early period in the
history of Queensland, the amount of sickness and the great
mortality among children became apparent. "Free and
assisted emigration," writes the author of the statement before
us, " brought many immigrants to the colony. They ' took
up ' land, built a bark or slab hut, and began clearing for
cultivation ; a labour in which the mother as well as the
children helped the father. In health all went well, but when
sickness came there was no room for it. Much .suffering and,
too frequently, death followed. This state of things came under
the notice of a lady near such a neighbourhood about seven
miles from Brisbane. It was asserted that a large number of
children born in the district died under five years of age.
Children under five are not admissible into the General
Hospital, and when above that age were placed in the wards
for adults an arrangement wholly unsuited to their tender
years while in the little bush-home there were no means of
meeting the needs of sickness." In 1876, it was resolved
we may conclude by the observant lady, who remains
anonymous to obtain a hospital for these little sufferers.
For this end a few friends were gathered together, chiefly
mothers with their young daughters, making an impromptu
garden-party ; and their sympathy with the scheme was shown
in such a hearty manner that then and there the work was
begun, with such energy and enthusiasm that in the following
year (1877) 1393 were placed in the bank. Twelve ladies
then formed themselves into a provisional committee, stated
their objects, opened a subscription-list for maintenance, etc.,
and obtained a copy of rules from the Children's Hospital
in Melbourne, Victoria, the only one existing in Australia at
that time. The committee sent to London for a qualified
matron, two trained nurses, and medical appliances to the
value of ^"50. They then rented as suitable a house as
could be got, and soon all that was necessary to convert it
into a hospital was done. A number of Brisbane merchants



Woman s Mission.



responded to their appeal by giving nearly all the requisite
furniture, so that very little had to be taken out of their
jealously-guarded funds. The "staff" arrived from London
in February, 1878, and on the nth of March the Children's
Hospital was opened, with twelve beds, to which three were
immediately added, and arrangements were made for out-
door patients. One important rule was made that, unless
prevented by poverty, parents should pay for the maintenance
of their children at the rate of from three and sixpence to ten
shillings per week ; and so willingly has this rule been com-
plied with that up to the present year the institution has been
benefited to the amount of .3000. The children are admitted
without reference to creed or country. The same year, the
Government granted an excellent site of two acres, which was
fenced in and cleared, and then the committee anxiously
waited for the time to build. Soon after, the Queensland
Government promised .1000 when they could show the same
amount for building ; this they were able to do at once, and
so the work went on and prospered. This institution, on
which we have dwelt at perhaps unreasonable length, on
account of the peculiar and touching interest which attaches
to it, has been always well and wisely governed by earnest
and warm-hearted gentlewomen, who have never spared them-
selves on its behalf. It is entirely free of debt, has a Conva-
lescent Home at the seaside, and is recognized as a blessing
by the whole country.

The Brisbane Female Refuge and Infants' Home is also
the outcome of the Christian sympathy of one lady, Mrs.
Drew, who in visiting the hospital, the gaol, and other
places of suffering, had become impressed with the need
of some home for young women who had forfeited their
character and were anxious to reform. The foundress and
private friends supported the refuge, which was the first of
the kind in Queensland, for a year and a half, when the
Government recognized its usefulness by granting a subsidy
of 100, increased in 1878 to .200 a year. In addition
a grant was made of land, on which the present building
stands. The sole claim for admission is the distress of the
applicants, and their willingness to conform to the rules of
the place. During the twenty-one years of its existence



Work in British Colonies and the East. 347



725 women and 736 children have passed through the refuge,
which remains under the management of the lady super-
intendent and foundress, Mrs. Drew, whose service is purely
honorary. This lady is effectively aided in her task, and
in the supervision of her former charges when they leave the
refuge for various forms of employment, by the philanthropic
women-workers of Brisbane.

A remarkably interesting example of individual effort is
furnished by a communication from Mr. James Donaldson,
of Sandiford, Mackay, Queensland, addressed to the Baroness
Burdett-Coutts, and which we repeat here. "About two
years ago," writes Mr. Donaldson, " Mrs. Donaldson started
a small class for the Kanaka labourers on our small sugar
plantation for the purpose of keeping them interested at
night, and to prevent the drinking habits which were getting
such a terrible hold on them. This work, which God has
greatly blessed in her hands, was commenced in fear and
trembling, as some of these men were big, stalwart, and very
dangerous fellows to deal with, especially when under the
influence of drink. The first step she took was to get them
to take the blue-ribbon pledge, and then the instruction
commenced with the ordinary school-primer, and slate-



Online LibraryAngela Georgina Burdett-CouttsWoman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers → online text (page 32 of 49)