Birthday Wishes as Benevolent Society Turns 200
8 May 2013 at 10:53 am
Leaders from across Australia have sent their congratulations to the Benevolent Society as it celebrates 200 years of continuous service as Australia’s oldest and longest running charity.
The Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Premiers of NSW and Queensland, the Governor of NSW and many heads of Not for Profit organisations have sent their birthday wishes.
NSW MP Amanda Fazio moved a ‘notice of motion’ recommending The Benevolent Society’s contribution to Australia in the NSW Parliament on May 2.
“On behalf of the nation, I extend my warmest best wishes to The Benevolent Society on the occasion of its 200th anniversary,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said.
“For two centuries, the Society has been a voice for compassion and reform – always accomplishing in its own deeds what it asked of others. Thanks to the Society, thousands of Australians have found comfort, dignity and the tools for empowerment and self-reliance.
“The Benevolent Society shows our nation at its best – a nation dedicated to fairness and opportunity. All Australians have cause to be proud of the Society and immensely grateful for its work,” she said.
“Much has changed over the last 200 years, but the work of the Benevolent Society and its commitment to helping Australians in need has endured. I thank the Society and everyone who has been involved with it for their efforts,” Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said in his birthday message.
Circa 1903. Photo: http://200yc.wordpress.com
CEO Anne Hollonds said The Benevolent Society has a unique role in Australia's history and was a catalyst for many of the social benefits Australians take for granted today.
“Imagine an Australia without free legal aid, child protection laws, the old age pension or maternity care and you’ve just imagined Australia without The Benevolent Society,” Hollonds said.
“When we were formed in 1813, the colony was a harsh place for the growing number of destitute children, single mothers, and elderly ex-convicts who were considered not deserving of help.
“Our founders were a small group of visionary people who established the first home-grown philanthropy and volunteering in Australia.
“For much of the 1800s, The Benevolent Society really was Australia’s welfare system, and we’ve been a driving force behind some major social and medical breakthroughs in Australia.
“We’re probably best known for establishing the Royal Hospital for Women in Paddington, which we ran for almost a century. The Royal had a proud record of medical breakthroughs, including the first reliable test for pregnancy in Australia, the first use of diagnostic ultrasound and the first cancer detection clinic for women.
“But in the late 1800s, we also campaigned for Australia’s age pension and the abolition of child labour.
“While we’ve come a long way since 1813, there’s still more to be done. Two hundred years on, one in six children live in poverty, one in five children are developmentally vulnerable when they start school and more than 30,000 Australian kids live in foster care because it’s not safe for them to live with their parents.
“As a relatively prosperous country, we can do better.”