Now a nine-hour drive from Manly to Bourke, in the 1920s and ‘30s it seemed a lifetime away.
Yet it played a significant role in our history and our current activities. The conditions we now treat are generally very different to those of earlier times, however the need to provide services to improve their health and wellbeing remains.
By 1931 the first of our four innovative Travelling Baby Clinics serviced the communities along the Bourke, Cobar and Brewarrina railway lines.
Seeing the need for air services, Bourke resident Sid Coleman bought an aeroplane, and he and pilot Mr Robinson provided free air transport for medical staff and patients in isolated areas. By 1935 the Aerial Baby Clinic was in its fourth year of service, helping hundreds of children, including 239 babies from the “Back o’ Bourke”. Mr Coleman served as Bourke’s Mayor and also as our Superintendent for a number of years.
During the 1930s, Bourke’s Branch members provided board and lodgings for our Nurses, stationed in the area, and through the years we’ve welcomed many children and families from Bourke and its surrounds. After decades of amazing dedication towards country kids, our Bourke Branch is still proudly in operation, and we thank everyone, past and present, for their wonderful contributions.
Today we are still proudly supporting kids and families in the Bourke region. We run our Telecare for Kids programs into local schools and preschools, and build local capacity by offering professional training.
Thanks to our friends at the CAGES Foundation, and invited by Maranguka as an initiative from Maranguka Early Childhood Working Group, over the last four years our Healthy Kids Bus Stop program has regularly called into town, working with Bourke and District Children’s Services and other local organisations to provide developmental screenings for each young child to identify potential barriers to their development. Pathways to care are developed for children who would benefit from extra support and early intervention so they are ready to learn when they start school. We’re also proud of being a part of the Maranguka Initiative, and the Maranguka Early Childhood Working Group, addressing the goal of every Aboriginal child to start school ready to learn, as set by the Bourke Tribal Council.
Pic: (L-R) Sid Coleman, Nancy-Bird Walton, AO, OBE, Dr Walter John Wearn OBE