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Social Workers

Page history last edited by Louise Segafredo 12 years, 4 months ago




Employment of a social worker, Miss Imrie, to work part-time among women and children at Carrum Downs.[1]



First full-time social worker appointed (the BSL became the first Victorian non-government organisation to do so)[2]



Family Service Project commenced in February as an experiment with one social worker working intensively with a group of ten families in Camp Pell who had many long-term and continually recurring problems (joint BSL/Housing Commission project designed to bring so-called ‘multi-problem’ families up to Housing Commission standards of acceptability in the short term).[3]



Family Service Project continues to be subsidised by the State Government through the Housing Commission with seven social workers working intensively with families.[4]


Social workers have first call on donated clothing and the remainder sold through the Opportunity Shops to help finance the social service work.  “Sorting is carried out by groups of voluntary ladies.”[5]



Third social worker appointed to the Social Service Bureau [6]


New headquarters building at Fitzroy, with ground and first floors completed in October.  The ground floor housed a new Social Service Bureau, a waiting room and Chapel, with  a shower and change room for the Coolibah Club.  The first floor offices accommodated Social Workers of the Family Service Project, along with the Accountant and Organiser who had been in rented premises in East Melbourne  [7]  



BSL consultation with American social worker Alice Overton to aid in assessment of services and clarification of the aims and methods of the Family Service Project.[8]


A Social Worker from the Social Service Bureau commenced work in the West Heidelberg area, working in close cooperation with the clergy and other social welfare people in the area.[9]



BSL’s social worker withdrawn from West Heidelberg to review the 18 months’ experiment in a locally based service. “it is already clear that the lessons learned from the West Heidelberg project will have much more enduring value than the actual work performed there  [10]



Elaine Martin joined the BSL as the first social worker appointed in a research capacity and begins work on a major study of the housing problem of low income families.  The aim of the study is “to give a qualitative picture of the kinds of accommodation which some families are obliged to occupy, the choice available to them, the effect of living in overcrowded, obsolete housing, and the impact of high rents”.[11]


Social Worker Vivienne McCutcheon, in a part-time position, undertook “a brief survey of Fitzroy, the nature of its population and its welfare services … to provide some factual guidance” to the Brotherhood in planning for the development of its own services (since the planning needs to be closely related to what goes on in the immediate environment).[12]


In December 1963, money was found to employ Alan Jordan as the centre’s social worker (a wage of £1,400 per annum). Financial support came from the Brotherhood of St Laurence, North Melbourne Mission, Central Mission, Collins Street Independent Church and the Methodist Combined Mission – a total of £4,000. The Centre would be operational from 1 January 1964 [13]



Reassessment of the practice and thinking of the Social Service Bureau, given the departure of three social workers to interstate and overseas and the appointment of a Chaplain[14]



Professional social workers to counsel and assist some 800 families each year [15]



Janet Paterson, BSL’s Senior Social Worker,  becomes the BSL’s first Director of Research & Social Action [16]


The Brotherhood “does not provide a counselling service for homeless men, but assists the Hanover Centre where Mr Alan Jordan provides counselling and carries out research.  Assistance has also been provided for an experiment in providing a social worker service in North Melbourne.  Two Social Studies Students at the Melbourne University are being helped financially by the Brotherhood.”[17]



BSL Executive consists of “the Director, Associate Director, Secretary, Chaplain, Director of Research & Social Action and the Manager of St Laurence Park, Lara.  … The Social Service Bureau is not represented at (their meetings) except when matters of policy involving the Bureau are discussed.  The Senior Social Worker has her own ‘direct line’ to the Director.”  [18]



Heavy demand for home delivery of meals, with many referrals by doctors and social workers, saw 3,529 mid-day meals delivered in the twelve months (1970-1971)[19]


The Brotherhood decided to close the social work service in Broadmeadows in March and offered to pay the salary of a social worker (community development worker) in the area for a two-year period.  The aim was to help develop programs which are indigenous and for which local people are responsible.   “In our involvement in Broadmeadows we are examining how best the resources of centrally based welfare agencies like the Brotherhood can be shared with areas that are seriously deficient in community resources.” [20]


Family Day Care Service, where children of working mothers are cared for by other mothers in their own homes with help and guidance from a social worker and kindergarten teacher, began in September as a three year pilot project funded by four Melbourne Trusts.  Mrs Barbara Spalding carried out the studies that led to the experiment first introduced in Australia by the BSL[21]



Family Centre Project head officially appointed (Mrs Concetta Benn - “One of Melbourne’s most experienced social workers”)  (April)  [22]



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  1. Colin Holden & Richard Trembath Divine Discontent p.54
  2. Colin Holden & Richard Trembath Divine Discontent p.55
  3. BSL Annual Report 1958-1959 p.5. BSL Annual Report 1955 p.8: “The Project commenced in February, 1955, when a worker was appointed to work intensively with a small group of families living in Camp Pell, whose applications for Housing Commission homes had been rejected because of unsatisfactory standards of house management and rent arrears. … The real value of the work lies in the fact that without this ‘preventive’ approach many of these families would be broken up and become costly and unhappy burdens on the community.” (NB - emphasis is in the original text). See also Janet Paterson in Catherine Magree (ed.) Looking forward, looking back: The Brotherhood’s role in changing views of poverty 1993 p.5 (BSL Library 362.506094 BRO)
  4. BSL Annual Report 1956-1957 p.6
  5. BSL Annual Report 1956-1957 p.7
  6. BSL Annual Report 1957-1958 p.3
  7. BSL Annual Report 1957-1958 p.3. The Accountant was Mr P.J. Stanley and Miss M.E. Rawlins was the Organiser
  8. BSL Annual Report 1960-1961 p.5 (no numbering). See also Helen M. Hughes A Survey of Anglican Social Work Agencies, The Church of England Social Service Advisory Council 1967, Pt.2 p.58 [Hughes_AnglicanSocWelfareAgencies_section4_1967.pdf] See also the article “Family Courts” by George T. Frohmader in Minnesota Welfare Vol.14 Fall, 1962 No.3-A pp.23-24: “Until June 1959 Alice Overton served as director of the Family Centered Project of St.Paul. She wrote in an article entitled: "Serving Families Who 'Don't Want Help'" that first the family needs to gain a positive feeling toward authority through close contacts with a worker who shows the family members great respect. Next, there must be some exploration into how and why the family feels their animosity toward authority. Then, the worker should help the family develop the realization that it is themselves that they are hurting through their hostile behavior. Finally, the worker, together with the family, helps them to decide on some more appropriate ways to get along with authority figures.” (From 24 Feb 2009) For Alice Overton obituary see Australian Social Work June 1988 Vol.41 No.2 pp.44-45. See also [Alice_Overton_&_Girls_Camps_for_Rehabilitation.pdf] This may provide some of the rationale for the BSL’s camps for disadvantaged children in the 1960’s.
  9. BSL Annual Report 1959-1960 p.2 (no numbering)
  10. BSL Annual Report 1961-1962 p.6 (no numbering
  11. BSL Annual Report 1962-1963 p.7: “More than 100 families have been interviewed, and information has also been obtained from estate agents, Government agencies and other social welfare organisation. The sample group of families includes some deserted wives who face special problems. The second stage of the study is a consideration of the Commonwealth and Victorian policy relation to low-income families and will include a number of recommendations which will emerge from the research project.” See also Catherine Magree (ed.) Looking forward, looking back: The Brotherhood’s role in changing views of poverty 1993 p.13 (BSL Library 362.506094 BRO)
  12. BSL Annual Report 1962-1963 p.14
  13. Chris Middendorp, Hanover - An Overview 1964-2004 2006 p.4-5 [Overview_of_Hanover_1964-2004.pdf]
  14. BSL Annual Report 1963-1964 pp.3-4
  15. Internal BSL history document The Rev G.K. Tucker and the Brotherhood of St Laurence 1965 [Tucker_&_BSL_HistoryDoc_1965.pdf]
  16. BSL Annual Report 1964-1965 p.3. Also Janet Paterson in Catherine Magree (ed.) Looking forward, looking back: The Brotherhood’s role in changing views of poverty 1993 p.4 (BSL Library 362.506094 BRO)
  17. BSL Annual Report 1965-1966 p.12
  18. Helen M. Hughes A Survey of Anglican Social Work Agencies, The Church of England Social Service Advisory Council 1967, Pt.1 p.5 [Hughes_AnglicanSocWelfareAgencies_section1_1967.pdf]
  19. BSL Annual Report 1970-1971 p.6
  20. BSL Annual Report 1970-1971 p.4 and BSL Annual Report 1972-1973 p.6 (no numbering)
  21. BSL Annual Report 1971-1972 p.4 (no numbering). See also proposal for Limurru Neighbourhood Parent & Children’s Centre (24 November 1982) [BSL_Limurru_Neighbourhood_Centre_Proposal_1982-11-24.pdf]
  22. Officially took up duties on 17 April 1972 - Brief Outline of Family Centre Proposal 15 May 1972 p.3 [BSL_Family_Centre_Proposal_1972-5-15.pdf]. However Connie Benn had been “sporadically involved in planning the project since November 1971”. Connie Benn The Family Centre Project - A Dynamic and Evolving Concept First Report November 1972 p.12 (BSL Library 362.82 BEN)

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