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Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre

The Austin and Repatriation Medical Centre (A&RMC) was formed by the 1995 amalgamation of the Austin Hospital (including the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre) and the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital (HRH). The Austin opened in 1882 in Heidelberg as the Hospital for Incurables with a £6000 donation from Elizabeth Austin to help incurable cancer, tuberculosis or paralysis patients, who were often excluded from other public hospitals. Twenty years later its Nursing Training School was established and in 1939 Heidelberg House opened for fee-paying patients. Its acute care facilities enabled the hospital to be accredited as a full-time general training school for nurses. In 1927 the words 'Chronic Diseases' replaced 'Incurables', recognising the progress in research and treatment of tuberculosis, cancer and paralysis. In the 1950s the Austin added an internationally recognised Spinal Injuries Unit and affiliated with the University of Melbourne in 1965, establishing chairs in Medicine, Surgery, Pathology, Medical Microbiology, and Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

The HRH opened in 1947, succeeding the 115th Heidelberg Military Hospital to service war veterans and widows. Despite its expertise in trauma and acute care, the HRH nurtured a benign reputation as a returned servicemen's nursing home for fear that realisation of war's true horrors would severely weaken public support for the war. The psychiatry department amalgamated with the North Eastern Metropolitan Psychiatric Services in 1996 to become the State-renowned Psychiatry and Psychology Clinical Services Unit. As a centre of teaching and medical research, and affiliated with the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the Austin Research, National Stroke, Brain Imaging and the Epilepsy Research Institutes, the A&RMC became known as Austin Health. In 2005, Austin Health was transformed when the Mercy Hospital for Women relocated to Heidelberg as part of the Austin Mercy Project, providing complete health care for Melbourne's highest growth corridor.

Emma Russell

Gault, E.W., and A. Lucas, A century of compassion: A history of the Austin Hospital, Macmillan, Melbourne, 1982. Details
Hunter-Payne, Gwynedd, Proper care: Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital 1940s-1990s, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1994. Details