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Immigrants Home

The aged care facility in Parkville, now known as Melbourne Extended Care and Rehabilitation Service, had its origins in ramshackle buildings on either side of St Kilda Road at Princes Bridge, known to early colonists as the Immigrants Home. In Melbourne, as the journalist writing under the pseudonym of 'The Vagabond' remarked after spending a night in the casual ward, the 'ragged tramp' slept 'but a pistol shot' from Government House. Established in 1853 by the Immigrants Aid Society 'for the amelioration of the fearful distress amongst the newly arrived population', over time it came to serve a similar function to an English workhouse, operating as a night shelter, convalescent hospital and providing shelter for deserted wives, single mothers, neglected children and the disabled.

After 1876 the temporary buildings began to be vacated, beginning with a consolidation of operations in the old military barracks on the western side of the road. In 1882 the 'incapable men' were moved to abandoned industrial school buildings in Royal Park, with the women following in 1913. The casual ward moved to buildings in La Trobe Street which operated as a reception hospital until 1943. Consolidated on its new site, the institution, later known as Mount Royal, served a range of functions, providing tents and later a chalet for tuberculosis patients from 1908, making beds available for children convalescing after the polio epidemic in 1937, and operating an inebriates division from 1937 to 1943. Specialising in geriatric care since World War II, the hospital is part of Melbourne Health and affiliated with the University of Melbourne Medical School.

Shurlee Swain

Uhl, Jean, Mount Royal: A social history, Mount Royal Hospital, Melbourne, 1981. Details