Celebrating 50 years of Community Health Care

Bellarine Community Health (BCH) has celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Queenscliff & District Community Health Centre (QDCHC), Victoria’s first ever Community Health Centre.

Residents, former senior staff and CEOs and many people who had a hand in fund raising over the years gathered at BCH Point Lonsdale for a photographic display to mark the anniversary.

The QDCHC evolved over the decades to become what is now known as Bellarine Community Health.

The original Queenscliff Centre was the result of planning and fundraising by the local community, which began in 1948, with the founding of the Queenscliff and District Memorial Hospital Society.

Despite the community effort to establish a local hospital, Government policy changed over the years and no small new hospitals would be built.

In 1969, the Hospitals and Charities Commission recommended to the Committee the concept of a Community Health Centre, providing a range of health services designed to meet the social and environmental needs of the community it was to serve.

“Queenscliff was selected to be the community in which to establish a Community Health Centre and that model was to become the first of a series of similar Centres which were established across the Bellarine and in other areas of Victoria,” said BCH CEO Garry Ellis.

“Queenscliff led the way in the setting up of a type of health care delivery service which has proved successful for 50 years.”

The Queenscliff & District Community Health Centre was officially opened by then Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe in September 1972.

By 2002, the Queenscliff centre had amalgamated with three other Community Health Centres that existed on the Bellarine to become known as the Bellarine Peninsula Community Health Service. In 2009 the service was renamed Bellarine Community Health.

The provision of comprehensive health care to the community was an initial, and is, an on-going objective.


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The Annual Meeting of contributors was held on September 8 1972, and resolved that the name of the organisation should be the Queenscliff & District Community Health Centre.
The Governor of Victoria, Sir Rohan Delacombe officially opened the Centre, which had over seven thousand attendances for medical, allied health, health education and social support services in the first year.

The philosophy of the centre was much more than preventative medicine. The new centre provided services and treatment both at the centre and in the home.

In November 1972, Dr Vernon Vivian, a GP from Melbourne moved to Point Lonsdale and became the first medical practitioner at the Centre, integrating community health and medical services
for the community.

Having a trained nurse contactable at all times was greatly welcomed in the community. The Centre moved away from using the Geelong District Nursing Society within the first year. It established its own Domiciliary Nursing Service in May 1974, providing services from Portarlington to Barwon Heads.

In 1975, the Committee of Management released a Master Plan of Development which included extensions for consulting suites, a dental unit, chiropody, infant welfare and accommodation for the elderly. Efforts to grow the Centre succeeded with Government funds made available to enlarge the Day Centre, and provide adequate areas for medical and dental purposes.

From its inception, the Centre enjoyed a high degree of community participation with volunteers supporting transport, activities in the Day Centre, and fundraising, particularly through the Ladies Auxiliary.

As well as educating the community about health, the staff had to keep up to date with advances in Community Health. Being members of the first Community health Centre in Victoria, the staff were at the forefront. They put their knowledge and ideas into practice, often giving lectures or presenting papers at seminars and conferences.

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The early eighties saw severe financial restrictions on funding for Community Health Centres, but despite the restraints a newly equipped podiatry department was established, audiovisual equipment installed for health education and additional resources for the Dental department and the Day Centre including a new bus.

A highlight of this period was securing funding for, and the construction of, the first eight self contained units to house the aged and disabled. Former President of the Queenscliff and District Community Health Centre, Mr Les Gordge and then President Mr Chris Laker had the honour of turning the first sod in the construction project.

The Units were named after Mr Eric Tolliday, the foundation Treasurer of the Queenscliff and District Memorial Hospital Society. They were officially opened by the Minister for Social
Security, Senator The Hon. Fred Chaney in March 1982. Further funding was successfully sought for eight more units which were constructed during 1983 and officially opened in 1984.

The Centre was the first Community Health Centre in Australia to construct and manage independent living accomodation for the aged and disabled.

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