Feminism seeped slowly into consciousness of the Australian medical fraternity. In the 1860s the editor of the Australian Medical Journal could still declare that ‘In any British Community… the people will wonder at Medical Women just as it wonders at dancing dogs, fat boys and bearded ladies.’
Three decades later, women doctors — their qualifications hard-won and their experience built up mainly in private practice — were giving the lie to such chauvinistic thinking.
In Victoria, in 1896, eleven women doctors — led by Constance Stone and including several other founding members of the Victorian Medical Women’s Society — opened the Victoria Hospital for the care of women and children. The success of the undertaking was soon evident to all, with patient often travelling long distances to receive treatment.
Over the years, and in each of its three successive inner-city locations, the Queen Victoria Hospital, or simply the ‘Queen Vic’, as it became known, played a special role in the lives of Victorians. It ceased to exist separately in 1987, when amalgamations saw it form part of the Monash Medical Centre in the new population centres of the south-east. But even today the Queen Vic is fondly remembered, and its distinctive spirit lives through innovative services for women and children and the memories of past patients and staff. We hope you enjoy this evocation of a much loved institution and its enduring legacy.
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