Melbourne's Christian Heritage

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Melbourne's Christian Heritage
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The early contribution of the Christian Churches to Victoria

1. The Church pioneered all social welfare across Melbourne. Initially governments did not consider these were state issues. A large network of charitable organisations, covering groups as varied as free medical clinics for the poor, migrant homes, orphanages, care for the blind, aged and mentally ill.

These included:, Caroline Chisholm and Wesleyan Migrant Homes, the Benevolent Society, Society for the Protection of Women and Children, RSPCA, etc

The Methodist Home for Children (on the current location of Westfield Southland) cared for children from 1859 to 1952. The Church began the "Benevolent Fund" for emergency aid for the poor, now financed by the government.

2. The Church pioneered education in Melbourne Church schools preceded state schools, and were larger until State Aid was abolished in 1872.

Varied educational institutions, such as primary and secondary schools, university colleges, technical colleges like William Angliss, Emily McPherson and the Workers College (now R.M.I.T.), free kindergartens, teachers colleges, libraries, the Mechanics Institutes and Mutual Improvement Societies were all set up by Churches.

3. The first hospitals were established by the Church, Christian citizens and religious orders.This includes many of the major hospitals, e.g.Royal Women's Hospital, the Homeopathic Hospital, Austin Hospital, Epworth, Queen Victoria (which started in a Church Sunday school hall. Now amalgamated with Prince Henry's to become Monash Medical Centre), as well as hospitals still provided by the Church - St Vincent's, Mercy, St John of God, Bethesda, Cabrini

4. Ministers and priests gave civic leadership across a wide range of community organisations. Mechanics Institutes was begun in Scots Church by Christians to provide education and training for workers across Victoria. Many Christians provided funding and leadership in sports, musical and cultural clubs.

5. Christians took the leadin dealing with issuessuch ashousing. Charles Strong was involved in lobbying for low-cost housing, and was actually involved in providing it, as was Os Barnett. Strong became an early member of the Housing Commission.

6. "The Argus" and "The Age"- were founded by active Christians and had leading clergy as writers.

7. Churches made a major contribution to music in Melbourne through their choirs

8. Christian volunteers and orders provided free workers for vital community support

Religious congregations and orders provided skilled staff for schools, homes and various charities run by the Roman Catholic Church. Similarly there were sisterhoods and deaconesses working among Protestant groups.

9. Victoria's tradition of philanthropic gifts and foundations owe much to the generosity and vision of church members and adherents. Victoria still provides a major part of such trust income for Australia.

10. Overseas aid and development organisations like World Vision and CAA were Christian initiatives.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 July 2006 05:35


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