Monash Health has long been a recognised leader in the care of women and newborn babies. In maternity and midwifery services, Monash Health has shown the way through at least two Australian firsts.

A key challenge for midwives in Australia has been getting people to know what midwifery is and also achieving consistency across the nation in relation to how the role of the midwife functions. The range of midwifery settings in which midwives practise includes antenatal, labour and birth and postnatal care both in the community and the hospital. Increasingly, as a result of the introduction of the first university degrees in midwifery in Victoria and in South Australia, the graduate midwife uses research to inform midwifery practice. This involves the interpretation of evidence as a basis to inform practice, policy, guidelines and decision-making.

Chronology of midwifery services in Victoria


A “Lying-In Hospital” was established in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton by Richard Thomas Tracey and John Maund. Lying-In hospitals originated in Europe in the early to mid-eighteenth century.


The Women’s Hospital, Melbourne’s first “Lying-In Hospital” introduced a course of twenty lectures in midwifery. It was the first hospital to train and conduct exams in midwifery.


By mid-1902, it was decided that midwifery should be a “nursing specialty”, so the Women’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Training of Nurses Association introduced a three and a half year course.


Dr Margaret H. McLorinan joined the staff of the Queen Vic, where she developed the antenatal aspect of Obstetrics and demonstrated the possibilities of excellent results on a scale not realised before, except by the specialists of the profession.


Felix Henry Meyer, a lecturer in Obstetrics at the University of Melbourne created the Board of Examiners for the State Certificate of Midwifery for nurses.

June 1920

Dr Margaret McLorinan established a special antenatal clinic at Queen Victoria Hospital.

30 June 1923

Part of the building of Queen Victoria Hospital, which was originally intended for doctors’ and nurses’ quarters, had been adapted to meet the growing demand for a Midwifery Department, and many visitors willingly paid toll for the pleasure of visiting Mrs Parsons and her tiny son – the first “inmates” of the ward.


Contract let for midwifery block, Rachel Forster Wing of Queen Victoria Hospital.


The Queen Victoria Midwifery Training School was recognised by the Nurses’ Board.


Midwives campaigned to have a Board that was separate from that responsible for general nursing trainees.


At Jessie McPherson Community Hospital in William Street, an emergency midwifery ward was opened. The Preliminary Training School for Midwives at the new location of Queen Victoria Hospital at 172 Lonsdale Street received a Chase Doll for demonstration purposes, which was a big asset to teaching

2 February 1948

A Birth Centre was completed at the Queen Victoria Hospital to cope with the enormous influx of babies after the birth rate went up as a result of men returning from the war. This comprised an Admission Room, an 8-bed Ward for waiting mothers, Labour Ward and Enclamptic Ward. It was completely self-contained and was regarded for its time as a thoroughly up-to-date and efficient unit in its lay-out, facilities and equipment. Another important addition to the Hospital was a Humidicrib in the nursery for premature babies.


A Midwifery Convalescent Unit for midwifery patients was established in Toorak, with the intention of relieving the crowded conditions in the hospital wards at the Queen Victoria Hospital. However, in March 1957, “Kimberley”, as the Convalescent Midwifery Hospital was known, closed and was converted for use as a Nurses’ Home.


6,242 babies were born in the Queen Victoria and Jessie McPherson Hospitals, with the proud record of not one maternal death for that year. The midwifery student uniforms were changed to blue frocks and white organdie caps.


Queen Victoria Hospital was the first hospital in Australia to offer the Leboyer technique of delivery, which involves a water birth.

October 1979

Opening of the Queen Victoria Hospital’s pioneering Birth Centre, the first in Australia to be entirely staffed by midwives.

21 January 1980

David Gabrys was the first baby to be born at Queen Victoria Hospital’s Birth Centre to Mrs Gail Gabrys of Swan Hill.

December 1982

A new birthing chair, which was the only one in a Victorian hospital, was installed in Queen Victoria Medical Centre, where it was popularly received.

July 1987

Adrien Christopher Lowe was the first baby to be born at Monash Medical Centre Clayton’s Birth Centre to Mrs Jackie and Mr Jim Lowe.

November 1988

A new Community Midwifery Centre was established at Monash Medical Centre Moorabbin. It appointed Vicki Senior as Midwife Practitioner.

6 March 1989

Aymen Hag was the first baby to be born at the Community Midwifery Centre at Moorabbin Campus.

6-8 April 1990

“Family Birth Centres – the Alternative or the Norm for the Future?” was a Conference organised jointly by the Birth Centres at Monash Medical Centre and the Royal Women’s Hospital. The Conference examined the future of Birth centres and also celebrated 10 years of birth centres at both hospitals. The Keynote Speaker was Dr Ruth Lubic, the general director of the Maternity Centre Association in New York City, which operated a number of Birth Centres including one in the South Bronx. Other speakers included Dr Judith Lumley, chairperson of Victoria’s Birthing Services Review, Dr Syd Allen, Executive Director of Medical Services at Monash Medical Centre and Maryanne Biro, Midwife-in-charge at Monash Medical Centre’s Birth Centre. During this conference, there was an opportunity for delegates to visit the Family Birth Centre at Monash Medical Centre.

11 February 1990

The Birth Centre at Monash Medical Centre Clayton celebrates its 10th birthday (since its founding at Queen Vic between 1979/80).

28 September 1990

Opening of Monash Medical Centre Birthing Suite Moorabbin by The Hon. Caroline Hogg, Minister for Health at Moorabbin campus, Centre Road, East Bentleigh. It was double in size to that at Monash Medical Centre Clayton and catered for low-risk births while high-risk births continued at Clayton.


An International Definition of the Midwife is released by the International Confederation of Midwives. See ACNM (undated), “International Definition of a Midwife”, American College of Nurse Midwives

Early 2004

Birth Centre relocated from Monash Medical Centre Moorabbin to Monash Medical Centre Clayton, where it is still operating today. Moorabbin’s GP Midwife Unit moved to Dandenong Hospital.


The Australian Nursing Council (ANC) established in 1992, changed its name to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC) in keeping with contemporary practice nationally and internationally, to acknowledge the discipline of midwifery as distinct from nursing.