Thursday, April 30, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 208-209)

"While we were trying to find my successor for the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Scheme I was asked by Mr George Smith, Director of the Christian Welfare Centre, Churches of Christ in Beaufort Street, Perth, if I would take over the running of the Centre from him whilst he completed his Master's degree at the University of Western Australia.

At the time I was over seventy and rather overwhelmed at the request as I thought there were others already connected with the Centre who were more qualified to take the position.  When I went for an interview I was very impressed with the work undertaken by the Churches of Christ at their Welfare Centre and would have enjoyed becoming part of it.  However, as I explained to Mr Smith, I could not leave the Housekeeper Service until a new Director was appointed and, at that time, we had nobody in view.  I therefore declined the offer, feeling sure that Mrs Peg Eaton and others at the Centre would be able to carry on until Mr Smith returned.

At last I approached Mrs W.W.Mitchell, one of our Board members, and asked if she would consider becoming the Director of PEHS.  After some deliberation she agreed provided that if I remained with her for three months, and I gradually relinquished direction and retired on 6th October, 1972.  (My mother at the time of this retirement was 75 years of age).

Mrs Mitchell arranged a special farewell function in my honour at the Gateway Inn at which Professor Saint was as unexpected and most welcome guest.  Both he and Dr Colin Anderson were kind enough to pay tributes to my services, and I received an Honorary Life Membership Certificate similar to that presented to Professor Saint when he left the Council of Social Service.

Mrs Mitchell carried on most successfully for some time ably assisted by Mrs Dorothy Walters as Chief Supervisor, while the service progressed and expanded. However, in due course Mrs Mitchell also found it necessary to resign for pressing family reasons, and incoming officers proved to be unsuitable and quite unsatisfactory.

Much water has gone under the bridge and, after some tribulation, Mrs Mary Scolly, a trained nurse with considerable experience as one of our Home Visitors, has become Director, and all is well again with PEHS.  Once again they have changed their address and now have excellent quarters on the ground floor in Hay Street.

I was present at the 1980 annual general meeting, at which Professor Eric Saint was guest speaker, and was very impressed to hear that the government grant for 1979/80 amounted to $75,000 and they had been able to assist 2,000 cases.

I feel very happy and satisfied to know that the PEHS is in such excellent hands.  As was commented in "Reflections" - it is "A BLESSING OF A SERVICE".

I know how proud mum was that the PEHS had prospered the way it did.  After her accident she fought tooth and nail to get it back on its feet, another battle she won outright.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Mum is getting back on her feet (literally) and ready to do battle with all and sundry.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 206-208)

"When I was able to travel after being discharged, I went into the office and sat with my legs up on the office table, endeavouring to plan future activities for the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Scheme.

I sent a letter to the Council of Social Service requesting them to return our funds as we were resuming management of our organisation, which had been taken over by them in error.  I was invited to attend the next luncheon meeting of the Executive Committee of COSS to be held at the Railton Hotel, and my invitation stipulated that I arrive after luncheon.  Nobody invited me to have a cup of tea although I haf given them twelve years voluntary service and was still an invalid.

They offered me a job as Director under their control but I refused and demanded the return of the funds and control to PEHS's legal Board of Management.  Dr Tauss was Chairman, and he was the only one to show me any courtesy.   

When they realised that I was adamant and that my facts were correct, they reluctantly agreed to my terms.  By the end of the discussion I was close to tears and very near collapse.  However, I managed to leave with dignity immediately after the decision was made, and lost no time in requesting that Treasury transfer the funds back to PEHS.

We advertised for a Supervisor and a Home Visitor.  Mrs Samuel was appointed Supervisor and she was a most capable person. The new Home Visitor was also very good but when she was taken ill with typhoid fever it was decided by Dr Colin Anderson that she may be a carrier of the disease and there may be some risk in continuing to employ her to visit homes where there were often sick people and children.

Later, when Mrs Samuel left us, we were fortunate in finding Mrs Dorothy Walters to act as Supervisor on the recommendation of a mutual friend, *Mrs Win Fry.  Mrs Walters was our Senior Supervisor for many years and we employed trained nurses as Home Visitors.

The PEHS continued to expand, we employed bookkeepers to look after our accounts and Mrs Haning, who had been Honorary Secretary to the Board of Management, became paid Secretary of the organisation.  I had remained as Director at the special request of the Board of Management.

Meantime the Council on the Aging very kindly donated us a Ritchie Board to hang on the wall, on which could be placed the names of housekeepers, whether they were live-in or part-time and their availability of otherwise.  It was a generous and much appreciated gift which is still constantly in use and has been added to from t time time as the need arose.

After a while the Citizens Advice Bureau requested us to find other accommodation as they wished to extend, and we were moved, by courtesy of the State Government. opposite to 55 Murray Street on the first floor.

The actual removal had to await the transfer of the telephone, which is the life blood of the PEHS.  I had everything possible packed ready to move so that, when the 'phone was moved suddenly one afternoon without warning, I sent out an S.O.S. and Miss Barnes, Mrs Roberston, Mrs Haning and young John Robertson arranged for the shifting of everything that evening, and we were able to open next morning with no break in the service.  The following weekend we had busy bee and it all soon became comfortable and shipshape.

One room on the ground floor was granted to us and other organisations in the building for meetings of Boards and Management an Executive Committees, which mostly took place in the evenings, and we were permitted to have the use of it for CHAPS daily.  Otherwise the first floor rooms were excellent.   The move made things very difficult for me as there were two flights of stairs to negotiate and these were my particular bugbear since my accident.  Once more we had toilets at a distance downstairs - not convenient for staff or clients.

By this time the PEHS was functioning very well, but it was difficult to recruit and keep good housekeepers as commercial organisations were starting up and offering much higher wages thean we could afford.  We endeavoured to obtain increased money from the State Government and Lotteries Commission without success and matters became so serious that I advised the government that we would be closing down the following week as we had exhausted our funds.

Immediately there was panic!  The Department of Health arranged for us to have an overdraft straight away, and increased finance was arranged.

By this time the **stairs were becoming extremely difficult for me, and I realised that I must prepared to retire and hand over to another Director.  With reluctance the Board accepted my decision and agreed that the position should be advertised and that a reasonable salary should be offered.  If desired, I promised to remain for a while to give the new office time to settle in. Replies to advertisements were numerous but unsuitable.

*We visited Mrs Fry's home with mum one day.  It was a beautiful house on a hill overlooking the Swan River with a magnificent garden running down the hill almost to the shoreline.  I remember several times in later years when Phil would go for walks we would pass the Fry's place and comment on the beauty of that garden.

 **I remember visiting mum in that building and I've never been able to work out how she managed those stairs for so long considering she used two walking sticks.  The more I think about my mother the more I realise what stern stuff she was made of.

There is more to tell about her finding a suitable person to take over as Director and another offer she receives as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This continues on from when mum was badly smashed up by a speeding car as she crossed the road towards her home.  Here, to begin with, she is still in the rehabilitation hospital.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 205-206)

"While I was in Shenton Park Rehabilitation Hospital my stepmother, *Mary Rockliff, came to Australia to visit relatives in the Eastern States, and continued on to Perth to see me. Unfortunately I was unable to entertain her, but she spent several afternoons in my hospital room talking to me while I was having physiotherapy,  It was pleasant getting to know her, and a bond of friendship was formed between Mary and our family which has continued through the years.

While Mary was with us we decided to take to the Avon Valley to see a little of the Western Australian countryside, and they permitted me to go out in the car,  At the time there was a severe drought, but we had thought that the Avon Valley would still be green.  It was a shock to Peg, Phil and me to find such a beautiful spot dried out, the sheep looking like skeletons with the skin over their bones, and I fear Mary still thinks of Western Australia as she saw it then, as she has referred to it in her letters from time to time.  We all four enjoyed a typical Australian meal (grilled steak and salad) at a nice little cafe in York and all in all it was a delightful outing.

When I was able to get about with elbow crutches my surgeon, **Mr Peter Cromack, asked if I had any steps at my home.  There were a few steps both front and back and he refused to allow me to leave the hospital until I found a place without steps, as he said they would always be a problem for me.

I started to study the "For Sale' notices and found a brand new duplex advertised in ***Innaloo on ground level.  Peg and Phiil took me to see it and I agreed to buy it and put my own home up for sale.

Mr friend and colleague, Miss Belle Gladstone, very kindly invited me to convalesce in her home for a month and, very gratefully, I accepted.  Belle was ****Perth's leading milliner, her sister Jessie was her partner, and they had a resident housekeeper, so I was waited on and thoroughly spoilt while I regained my feet.

Meantime my house had been sol and I was waiting for their buyer to arrange finance.  Suddenly he obtained the money and wanted to take possession, so I had to return to the house despite the steps in order to sell furniture which I should not require at the duplex.

It was during the school holidays, and my grandson Steven came to stay with me and help with packing up.  He was about twelve at the time, was good company and I could not have had a better helper.

In Innaloo the carpets had been laid, blinds were already up and when moving day came we only had to get the men to put the furniture in the right places and I was straight away settled in my my new home.  So now a chapter in my life was completed and another one was started.  The accident occurred on 3rd June, 1969, and it was March, 1970 before I could get around using my two walking sticks."

* Mum' father Percy Rockliff (PR) had married Mary in 1938 after his wife (mum's mother) had died.  Mary had been PR's secretary and I feel the two had been close for some years prior to their marriage.   If you remember back, when mum was still quite young, PR had removed his wife and two daughters from his home as they did not suit his lifestyle.  Mary was 3 years younger than mum and she was a most delightful person and we remained in constant touch by mail until her death in 1987 when she was 87.  She had no children but two nieces of whom she was very fond.  The niece that lived in England contacted me and asked if I would like to have PR's OBE medal.  I of course said I would so she mailed it to her sister in Tasmania (about as far from Perth as you can get) thinking it would be safer that way.  It eventually arrived and along with it was PR's seal complete with a piece of red sealing wax.  It was a lovely surprise.

**Mr Cromack was a wonderful doctor.  Shortly after mum was injured he telephoned me to say he couldn't guarantee that mum would live (it was touch and go for quite a while) and even, if she did, he doubted she would ever walk again.  Her right hip was so badly damaged it was impossible to do a hip replacement, nor could it be put back together even after three attempts to do so.  It remained in pieces for the rest of her days.

***People who live in that suburb are often made of fun of when people tease them about 'living in a loo"!!

****Belle Gladstone was a lovely lady and I always remember the slogan of her millinery shop was "Above all the right hat!".  She was wonderful to mum and I was so grateful to her as I was working full time and also had Phil and two children to care for and there were steps where we were living which would have been impossible for mum to negotiate at that time.

OK so we have mum out of hospital and living in her new home.  From now on she goes to talk about getting back into harness and having a rather heated discussion with the Council of Social Service about the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Scheme.

Monday, April 27, 2015


It is not easy to write this as it was such a sad time in our lives but it is difficult to keep a determined woman down for too long so bear with me as you find out what effect this 'event' had on all our lives.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 202-205)


As usual, in May 1969, I attended the annual meeting of the Australian Council of Social Service in the Eastern States and left Mrs Marge Schonell in charge of the office and Mrs Edna Maloney in charge of the C.A.B., both of whom had been with me as voluntary helpers for a considerable time and were entirely capable and reliable

The day following my return was a public holiday and Mrs Schonell rang me and suggested that it would be a good time to go into the office while everything was quiet, and she would be able to tell me all that had transpired while I was away.

I was happy to agree to her suggestion and, after we had caught up with everything, we decided to catch a taxi outside Boans store so that I could drop her in Bulwer Street where she had parked her car, and then continue home.  Being a holiday, taxis in town were few and far between, and our driver asked if we would be prepared to share with two men who were going in the same direction.  We agreed, and that was my undoing.
We dropped Mrs Schonell in Bulwer Street and, when opposite my home in Fitzgerald Street, the driver asked if I would mind if he dropped me in the side street, instead of turning around to stop outside my house, as the two men were going further on from here.  I agreed to his suggestion and stood at the side of the road waiting until it was safe to cross  A man driving a large dark car came along, stopped, waved me across, so I crossed in front of him and that is all I remember

It appears that another car came along and passed the standing car at high speed, catching me and throwing me a long way up the road.  At first it was thought to be dead but apparently there was a faint pulse, an ambulance was called and one of my neighbours kindly volunteered to go in to the hospital with me.  I was unconscious for a long time and had multiple broken bones and injuries including a cracked skull.  In all it took me nine months to recover and I still have disabilities as a result of this accident."
 (This was the first time in many years that a taxi had not dropped mum right outside her front gate.  At that time Fitzgerald Street was a quite narrow road and the second car would have had to swerve onto the wrong side of the road to pass the stationary car.  If only the first car hadn't stopped as it did.  I guess our lives are full of 'ifs' aren't they but in this case 'if only?  The next door neighbour was Mrs May Michael.  She was the wife of a medical missionary and I feel would have had experience in nursing.  She was a lovely person and she and mum, in later years, moved into the same retirement village.  I was so thankful to her for accompanying mum to Royal Perth Hospital in the ambulance.)

"Several weeks after this happened and I was still in hospital a young Italian man came to visit me and said it was he who had knocked me down and admitted that he should not have passed a standing car at such speed.  It appeared he had been in a hurry to get home with his wife who had just left hospital with a new baby, and he had left other children at home on their own.  He said he feared I would die and that he would he had up for manslaughter, so it was a great relief to him to know that I had recovered.  All his hurry was for nothing and he must have been delayed for hours before he was able to take his wife and new baby home.  (I don't want to sound hard but I always felt the young man was more concerned about his own neck than what had happened to mum as a result of his carelessness).

At the office emergency arrangements had to be made right away.  Miss Pat Thomas was made Director of the C.A.B. pro tem; P.E.H.S. was left in charge of the Supervisor, Miss P. Dodd under the direction of the Board of Management, and Mrs Phil Robertson carried on in charge of C.H.A.P.S.

My daughter Margaret (Peg) and her husband Phil were wonderful.  They took over the running of my home and *flats; arranged for accounts to be paid and visited me regularly in hospital.  The whole thing must have disrupted their own lives, and nothing I could do for them would ever replay all they did for me at that time.

A very large number of cards. telegrams and letters arrived for me immediately after the accident, and Peg kindly put them into an album for me so that I could see them if and when I regained consciousness and was able to read them.  I still browse through them occasionally, and think how wonderful it was that I had so many friends who cared.

My Secretary, Mrs Haning, visited me regularly while I was in hospital and, when I was well enough, gave me the news from the office.

My C.A.B. voluntary workers carried on as usual, being experienced and capable.  Mrs Phil Robertson managed C.H.A.P.S. but the Board of Management of P.E.H.S. was not happy. When I was given a single room at Shenton Park rehabilitation Hospital they met for informal meetings my my bedside.  It appeared that, while I was in hospital, Dr Colin Anderson, Chairman of the Board of Management, became worried about the service and without reference to other Board members, asked the Council of Social Service to take over the running of P.E.H.S., which was, of course, quite illegal, as it was an independent body and paid up financial member of C.O.S.S., added to which the Council constitution does not allow it to run a welfare service.  It appeared that C.O.S.S. had taken over P.E.H.S. funds, and Mrs Stephenson and the Supervisor, Miss Dodd, were in charge.

Dr Anderson came into see me and I explained to him that the action taken was out of order.  The Matron of Shenton Park Hospital (then Matron Denny) very kindly permitted the Board to hold meetings in in the hospital library in the evening and I was taken along there in a wheelchair.

I had sent letters of resignation to all the various services, but Mrs Meadowcroft, Deputy Chairman of P.E.H.S. did not open my letter as she surmised its contents.  I was therefore still the Director and able to speak at meetings.

After discussion it was agreed as it was near to Christmas, that the organisation would close down over the holiday period after fulfilling outstanding obligations as far as possible.  The Supervisor was to be asked to give a full list of outstanding applicants, as well as housekeepers available and bookings made.

It was further agreed that the Board would re-open it in a short time, taking back the funds and management from C.O.S.S..  They asked me to resume as Director.

*Mum had kept the main part of her house for her own use, let out the two very large front rooms as a flatette and rented a smaller area at the back of her house.  They all shared the bathroom but had their own small kitchens.

I will never forget the evening when brother Len rang me to say he'd had a call from RPH to say mum had been injured.  We four were about to leave to go to the drive-in pictures so it was fortunate we were still at home.  We hot-footed it into Perth and when we arrived at Emergency I was allowed in to see my mum.  She was lying on a gurney and I truly thought she was dead.  She was unconscious but I spoke to her but as I needed her to know I was there.  She looked terrible and it was such a shock to see this woman who was always such a fighter just lying there.  It was a dreadful few weeks before we knew what the final outcome of this 'accident' would be. 

 As I said a the beginning of this episode you can't keep a determined woman down.  I still feel amazed, thirty years later, at how mum found the fortitude to continue on as she did and there are still more outstanding achievements to come.  I will continue with the aftermath of this upheavel in future 'episodes' about mum's convalescence and where she goes from there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (page 202)


When Professor Saint left to become Dean of the Faculty of Medicine in Queensland University we were extremely distressed, and his departure created many changes.

It was decided to apply to the State Government for a grant to cover the salary of a part-time secretary for the Council of Social Service, so that I could retire from the position of Honorary Secretary which I had carried for twelve years.  The Government agreed to make an annual grant to the organisation and Mrs M Stephenson applied for and was appointed to the position.

I remained as Executive Office of the Australian Council of Social Service in an honorary capacity until my retirement in 1970.

Brigadier Hunter of the Salvation Army became President of the W.A. Council of Social Service following Professor Saint and, to comply with the constitution and simplify the work, both the Citizens Advice and Bureau and the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service became independent organisations and paid up full member bodies of the Council of Social Service.

The W.A. Council of Social Service was thus relieved of the task of running those two welfare services, which it had been doing since its inception, contrary to the constitution.

The only salary I received was from the Citizens Advice Bureau, of which I was Director, and it had its own Executive Committee.

I continued to act as Honorary Director of the PEHS, under the control of its Board of Management.

I was also Honorary Director of the Children's Holiday Association.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 198-202)

"Mrs Haning and I were dealing with all the business and correspondence connected with four organisations, the Council of Social Service (COSS), Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service (PEHS) and the Childrens Holiday Association Perth and State (CHAPS).  In order to keep everything up-to-date, we purchased a tape recorder and I took it home with me at weekends, together with minutes and correspondence, requiring attention.

Quietly on Sunday afternoons I sat comfortably in my lounge room and dealt with all matters arising by dictating to the tape recorder, interspersed with comments for Mrs Haning's benefit, knowing that, as she replayed the tape, she would be able to cope with them in her usual capable manner.

In this way everything was kept up-to-date, including filing and records, and we both worked without interruption in the office.  Mrs Haning was a wonderful colleague and helper, and I still value her friendship after so many years.

In order to include new organisations and correct information where necessary we published from the office three more Directories of Social Service Agencies, with considerable help from the voluntary workers of the C.A.B.

This is a mammoth job.  Questionnaires have to be distributed to all known organisations, others invited to participate by publicity and, because the greater number did not return their completed forms in time, it was necessary to spend money and effort in writing and telephoning reminders.

Information received had to put into its proper category in alphabetical order, carefully collated and checked, after which quotes had to be obtained for printing etc., and months went by before a finished book was ready for distribution.

The cost of production increased with each edition and COSS had to recoup its expenditure from the sale of the directory, which meant extra work for the office and the accountant.

While at a public meeting one evening at which I had been invited to speak, I was asked by Mrs D. Levinson if I could find something for her old father to do.  He was a highly qualified chartered accountant about 80 years of age and retired, so life seemed aimless to him and not worth living.  I asked her to send him to see me and, to cut a long story short, he took over keeping all the books and coping with insurance and all financial matters, and I only had to worry about the petty cash.

Fate certainly lends a hand occasionally, and Mr Lester was friend indeed  He stayed with the office as long as his health permitted and was very popular with everybody.  He did not need a computer - he had one built in!

Friday, April 24, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME'  by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 197-198)


A number of our smaller members bodies drew attention to the fact that they find it difficult to obtain sufficient funds to carry on their work, while some of the larger organisations receive more than their fair share of available money and definitely appear to be empire building.

Attention was drawn to this matter some years ago and it was therefore suggested by the Council of Social Service that we should investigate the possibility of setting up a COMMUNITY CHEST to ensure distribution of available money proportionately between all social welfare concerns.

I obtained all necessary details regarding the establishment of a Community Chest and we called a public meeting to discuss the matter.  Unfortunately the larger organisations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Spastic Welfare, Quadriplegics and Slow Learners violently opposed the proposition and the situation remains the same today.

The Council of Social Service has drawn attention to this matter once more and it is hoped that a solution may be found.

Not only are some of the larger organisations permitted to have regular *door knocks (which are, in my opinion, an invasion of privacy and perhaps even a form of blackmail), but we are now pestered with **telephone appeals requesting us to buy books of tickets, pens, or other articles on behalf of charities, which appear to benefit very little from this effort.  An exposure over one of the T.V. channels a short time ago claimed that the only people likely to benefit to any extent from one appeal were the public relations people who had organised it.  The firm concerned had declined an invitation to appear on the T.V. programme.

Telethon and Appealathon raise large sums of money but one wonders if there is an audited balance sheet available to the public who donate, and what care is taken to see that children and others collecting for these appeals are over the stipulated age of 16 and using official collection tins?  (I believe Appealathon has been taken over by Variety WA).

A woman came into my office on one occasion and asked if she could go round the office to collect.  She had an open jam jar and culd produce no authority.  When she thought I intended to make telephone enquiries about her eligibility to collect she left very hurriedly.

Street appeals are no longer a reliable source of income.  Elderly women used to give their services regularly to collect for various charities, but few are now available.  Times have changed - many are now babysitting for relatives or have taken on part-time jobs from necessity.  Blind dogs and cripples always draw sympathy and organisations which can call upon a large number of members or school children continue to do reasonably well, but for many of the smaller bodies the reward is hardly worth the effort.  What steps are taken to ensure that the small boys collecting are not under 16?  Have the police the right to control this?"

*I'd best not let Phil read this part as for several years he collected in our street on behalf of the Heart Foundation.  It was probably a 50% success rate.  He has since given it up, feeling he is too old to go door to door, not knowing for sure who he is likely to encounter.  Some people can be quite rude.  Now he just gives the Heart Foundation $5/month and feels he is still doing his bit.

**This appears to happen with monotonous regularity these days.  For several years we took part in some of these appeals but these days I explain we are in our 80s, old age pensioners and apologise for not being able to help.  In our working days we were always buying raffle tickets and making annual donations to various charities.  We feel we've done all that is needed of us.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 194-197)


This committee, which was an offshoot of the Childhood and Youth Committee, was primarily concerned with the welfare of children generally, and had amongst its members some outstanding younger women, well-known men, doctors, social workers and kindergarten teachers.  One particularly vital member was Mrs Joan Pope B.A., DipEd., L.R.A.M., R.A.D., A.M.E.B., who became the head of the Children's Activities Time Society, better known as C.A.T.S.

We listed a number of important needs, one of which was the provision of child minding facilities in the metropolitan area, such as are available in the capital cities of our other States.  A suitable childminding centre would permit mothers to leave their babes in arms, toddlers, children in pramsa and pushers, in qualified care for limited periods so they could attend to business, dental, medical and other appointments without stress, and even meet a friend occasionally for morning tea or lunch unencumbered.

Mr Jim Carr of the Health Education Council suggested that we should run a child minding centre ourselves during Child Care Week, shortly about to start in the metropolitan area.  The idea appealed to us and we decided to ask Perth City Council if it would allow us to use the back part of the Perth Town Hall for this purpose.  To our delight we obtained the necessary permission and lost no time in arranging details.
 Sister K. Barnes, retired Superintendent of Silver Chain Nursing Service took charge of the childminding operations and the babies were separated from the toddlers.

The media gave us wholehearted support and on the morning we opened this part-time experimental centre we had a long line of mothers with children, some in arms, others in pushers and prams, awaiting admission.  Our voluntary workers took care of recording, care of prams etc., and no problems arose.

Mothers used the centre the whole week, proving conclusively that there was a very great ned fora permanent service.  As a result we obtained the support of Cr. Florence Hummerston and the Lord Mayor of Perth, Sir Thomas Wardle.  (There's that man again).  The Florence Hummerston Child Minding Centre was established and is on the third floor of National Mutual Arcade in Perth city.

The Child Care Committee also took up the matter of the addition of imaginative equipment in small parks and gardens in various areas in addition to, or in place of, the usual wing, slide or seesaw.

A small underdeveloped playground in one of the northern suburbsm with the co-operation of service clubs and the local Council, was equipped with many inexpensive articles such a blocks for climbing, car tyres, a large drain pipe to crawl through and a number of other novelties.  We held a small opening ceremony and asked that some seating arrangements be made for parents.

So often different groups have similar ideas, and it was at this time that a Mrs McDougall was endeavouring to interest people in a Children's Playground in King's Park.  She succeeded; the centre is a wonderful place and always well patronised.

 Mrs Joan Pope and some of her colleagues took a bus loaded with art and other equipment thrugh some of the playgrounds and this became most popular,  It developed into PLAYGROUNDS ON DEMAND and they called on certain days in specified areas.

The CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES TIME SOCIETY came into being about 1965 and, when we had to close the Latch Key Centres, we handed over any suitable equipment to Joan Pope and C.A.T.S.

The first Festival for Children was also Joan Pope's brain child and was held about 1964 or 1965.  Later it was incorporated.

Dr Ryan of Princess Margaret Children's Hospital (P.M.H.) brought up a matter at one of our meetings concerning spastic children.  It appeared that the Spastic Welfare Association closed its hospitals at holiday times and, when relatives or friends did not arrive to collect some of the children, they were at a loss to know what to do with them and delivered them to Princess Margaret Hospital.

The hospital did not have facilities to care for these children and it was a heartrending business, both for the authorities at P.M.H. and the poor children, who were certainly not welcome guests.  We discussed this matter and, naturally, our sympathies were all with the children, for whom we felt arrangements should have been made in advance.  It then occurred to me that the Spastic Welfare Hospitals would almost certainly be "C" class, and I did not think that "C" class hospitals could close down for holidays in this way.  Enquiries were made at the Department of Health and this was confirmed.  The matter was investigated and the difficulty overcome.

In 1973/4 I was asked by the Government  to go to Karratha, one of the iron ore centres, to investigate the needs and possible provision of facilities for mothers and children.

Arriving in Karratha into a place which had hitherto had only salt bush and spinifex was quite a shock.  It had very nice airconditioned homes, excellent roads, trees growing, a good hall, a golf course, a high school accommodating 1,500 children and, of course, all the facilities for transporting the iron ore.

There were shops and a bank, plentiful supplies of liquor and, as far as one could see, everything that could be provided by the company to keep workers happy.

A meeting had been called fora Saturday afternoon at which I was to speak, and the residents to explain their various needs.  One of the most important welfare requirements was for an Emergency Housekeeper Service to operate when mothers were in hospital with new babies or in case of illness, for which funds would be needed.

There were a number of problems associated with the establishment of an emergency housekeeper service in the Karratha areas, as the constitutions of the two schemes operating in the south-west were specifically drawn up to cover (a) in the case of the Lady Mitchell Service - "the woman on the land" and (b) th Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service - "the metropolitan area".  A new service would be needed for this particular area and a government grant sought to cover it, bearing in mind that this was a new and large industrial area.  I advised them to apply for a special grant.

It was stated that the Iron Ore Company would be prepared to make a house available for this purpose, but this would need permanent staff, expensive and not easy to obtain.  Housekeepers ae required to be able to handle children of all ages; to be good plain cooks, including special diets where necessary, and to budget within the family income.  Younger grandmothers are ideal for the purpose, but one felt they would be few and far between in the vicinity.

A childminding clinic, an infant health centre and a kindergarten were all badly needed because mothers as well as fathers were encouraged to work in order to keep the family happy and maintain a stable work force.

A Soroptimist Club has now been started in the Port Walcott district and one of the club members has advised that arrangements are now working satisfactorily, as far as welfare needs are concerned."  (This was of course written my mum in the early 1980s)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I am breaking my normal rule here and popping in two short stories on one page.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 193-194)


The Australian Council of Social Service sent us literature concerning a service to assist civilian widows which they were endeavouring to establish in the various states.

The proposed organisation was called "BIRTHRIGHT", and its aims and objects were similar to those of "LEGACY" which does so much to help ex-service widows.

We tried to interested men's service clubs in this very necessary effort which was specifically designed to help widows with growing sons in need of a man's guidance, or women living alone through any circumstances.

Members of Perth Rotary Club expressed an interest and agreed there was a definite need, but we found it impossible to arouse any enthusiasm, although we spent much time in calling meetings and distributing literature.  We were even told that some of the wives of service club members might object to their husbands becoming involved with widows!

We were becoming very discouraged when, to our great delight, a direct approach was made to a group of men in Perth by members of BIRTHRIGHT in the Eastern States.  They approached us on the matter and stated that they were willing to endeavour to establish it in W.A. and we were very pleased to hand this very necessary organisation over to them.

We understand that BIRTHRIGHT still has its growing pains but it is proving valuable, and has a definite role in the community.

BIRTHRIGHT now uses our Children's Holiday Assocation for the benefit of children of widows it is helping.

Another approach that was made to me was to form a committee to start an organisation called "RECOVERY" in Western Australia, the aims of which were to assist people concerned with drugs, mental breakdowns and so on.

I realised that I personally was fully committed and therefore approached Mr George Smith, Social Worker with the Churches of Christ if he would take it over

He agreed and went into the matter with drug addiction very thoroughly, even going overseas and mingling with drug addicts in order to understand their plight.  He it was who developed the organisation known here as "GROW", and there are now many branches in Western Australia doing excellent work.  As always, it is being frustrated we understand, by lack of finance.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I am publishing this one on Tuesday 21st April and am hoping it stays in sequence.  The previous post (Perth Emergency Housekeep Scheme) unfortunately appeared as being published on 15th April although it was only posted on Sunday 19th and I hopefully have corrected that and got it in line.  I know you can schedule posts but not entirely sure exactly how to proceed.  Perhaps someone could advise me, please.)  

A slightly longer post of another very important organisation.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 190-193

"The Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State:

The next major problem brought to our attention was the need for some care of school children during school holiday periods, when there was only one parent who was obliged to work to support the family, and there were no friends or relatives able to take over.  We were constantly asked for advice by worried single parents, particularly regarding the *long summer holidays.

Single parents were in a cleft stick!  They either had to leave children to their own device; obtain leave from their employment (not often possible); or leave their jobs, hoping to obtain further work after the holidays, a desperate solution of you are the bread winner.

**My own daughter was similarly placed, and I paid for her two children to go to a riding school in the south-west for two weeks during one holiday.  The cost was much more than an average parent could afford, and I certainly could not have continued to meet such requirements for a long period of time.

I decided to publicise the need and ask if there were parents with lonely children, either in the town or country, who would be prepared to accept a child of similar age to their own as a guest during the school holiday period.

Press and radio gave generous publicity; suitable forms were prepared for hosts and children covering such things as disabilities and insurance.  It was decided that we could not accept any responsibility, and it was therefore left to parents and hosts to decide whether they would be prepared to accept the offered home or the child, and all children had to be covered by school insurance, which also included holiday periods.

The response was not encouraging.  Where necessary some help was given with extra clothing, and it was agreed that the parents should provide their children with pocket money.  Few of the host families asked for board to be paid but, where requested and possible, parents willingly paid a sahre of expenses.

I became Director of the service in an honorary capacity and, at the suggestion of Miss Thomson's public relation friends, we called it the Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State, which would be shortened to the applicable CHAPS.

 One again we ran this from the general office with the help of Mrs Phil Robertson and Miss Marjory Thomson.  There were times when the holiday rush was on that we worked in the office until midnight receiving and sending telephone messages at reduced rates with country hosts.  CHAPS now has an answering service which is particularly helpful when the office is closed,

This organisation was established and run entirely independently of the Council of Social Service.  A regular group of voluntary workers has carried the organisation and it is very well administered.

CHAPS has also proved of benefit to parents, as it gave them relief from worry, and a short period of relaxation from family care after work.

For most of the children it was a wonderful experience as they came into contact with farm like and country towns which they had not known previously.  In return, some of the parents invited hosts' children to visit them in Perth when they were able to do so.

One retired businessman at Geraldton paid the air fares of a mother and twin boys of eight so that they could go to his place for the Christmas holidays.  The mother returned to her job in Perth after the New Year, and the boys remained in Geraldton for the rest of their summer holidays.  What an adventure for two small boys!

Children want as far afield as Experance and Port Hedland, and some of them were invited year after year to the same homes during the school holidays.

An amusing case was that of a mother who wanted her son looked after, but stipulated that he must not soil his bands or his clothes because he was a junior male model.  Poor boy!  We thought a good tumble in the dirt would probably have done him the world of good.  I believe he was placed with a family with sympathy and understanding.  His good clothes were carefully put away, and he was given some 'bush' attire to wear until the holiday was over, when he want back to his mother carefully dressed and groomed, looking as nearly as possible the perfect little model.

We set up a good card system of children needing help (including details of any personal or medical problems), and a similar record of information concerning hosts offering assistance.  Youngsters suffering from diabetes, epilepsy etc., as well as bed wetters, have been placed with host families whose children had similar problem, and the scheme has been surprisingly free of major difficulties or emergencies.

Children and hosts from ethnic backgrounds were placed together to overcome language difficulties.  One Greek family asked for a girl as their family consisted of only boys and they longed to have a daughter by proxy if only for a short time.  There was one condition - she must be able to swim as they had a large swimming pool.  As usual, there was a suitable lass available.

In due course I applied to the Western Australian State Government for a grant towards administration and this made it possible for us to appoint a part-time secretary.

When I began to establish Beehive Industries (you will read more of this in further episodes) I resigned from C.H.A.P.S. and my place as Director was taken by Mrs Phil Robertson.  I was presented with a nice clock as a farewell gesture, and made an Honorary Life Member.  I treasure my clock and it is in constant use.  (If I remember correctly it was a lovely travelling clock which would fold up to keep it safe when travelling.   I feel I had it for a time and maybe stopped working so I discarded it).

Over the years there have been some changes but Mr Rob Stevens remained as President until ill health compelled him to resign in 1981.  He has been asked to accept Honorary Life Membership.

Mrs Toms was the first secretary and is now a voluntary helper.  Her place as secretary was taken by Mrs Ray Buck. a brave bright young woman who gave much to the organisation, and was sadly missed when she died tragically while still young.

Mrs Dawn Fogden is the present excellent secretary and expansion is the order of the day.   There is a group of wonderful voluntary workers who have given their services since the early days and are still happy to carry on doing so.

CHAPS fills a unique spot during school holiday periods, and numerous letters have been received from hosts, parents, and the children themselves, conveying their appreciation of this very essential service.

* In Australia the summer holidays usually begin a week before Christmas and schools don't start the first term of the new year until the beginning of February.

** This was of course when I was separated from my first husband.  My two children had a wonderful time on that holiday and it gave mum an eye opener as to the costs involved in trying to find a place to send children during prolonged holidays where they would be safe while a parent had to continue working during those holidays.

This is a biographical note found on a social archive site (Libraries Australia.  World Cat record id: 665033877):

The Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State of W.A. (acronym CHAPS) was also known as Children's Holiday Association of Western Australia, and Children's Holiday Association, but, was incorporated as Children's Holiday Association of Perth and State of Western Australia.  The Association was fund raising from 1970, incorporated in 1976 and wound up in 1998.  The Association enabled children of one-parent families, where the parent was obliged to work to support the family, or sick, to be placed with host families for school holidays.  
(I am sure mum would have been saddened to know that it was eventually wound up.  No reason was given for this).

Monday, April 20, 2015


I am still trying to work out how, when I posted this on Sunday 19th April, it showed up as being posted 15th April.  I know this for sure as I only added the little logo yesterday.  There's gremlins in the works somewhere, of that I'm sure.

This is a slightly longer post but I feel it best to be read in one sitting as it is a story in itself.  

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 187-189)

"Frequently we had distressed fathers come into the C.A.B. with children in their arms, seeking immediate aid because their wives had been taken to hospital and there was nobody available to look after the family.

Wanslea, to which children could be sent in an emergency, was not always suitable or popular, in addition to which it was expensive and it was obvious that, where possible, the family should be kept together, and an emergency housekeeper service was the answer, similar to those operating in other States.

I approached the Commissioner for health, Dr Davidson, for funds to start such a service.  He advised that money was available, but that it would be necessary to start the service, prove the need and our capacity to run it, before a grant could be made for the purpose.

I obtained permission to run a street appeal to raise money to launch this new essential service and asked members of the Family Welfare Committee to give their support.  They agreed and with a great deal of hard work we raised the very modest sum of $700, and with it started our own Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service.

At first we named it "Trained Emergency Aids" (T.E.A.) but were advised later, by a public relations friend of Miss Marjory Thomson, to change it to its present title, and adopt the symbol of the helping hand holding the house and family in its care.  We were indebted to Miss Thomson for her considerable voluntary help with the new service.  (If I remember correctly the logo of the PEHS was very similar, if not the same as this one):

A committee was formed with Dr Colin Anderson as Chairman, other members being Mrs Meadowcroft, Mrs Forsyth, Sister Barnes, Mrs Haning as Hon Secretary of the committee and myself as Director.

I had obtained information regarding emergency housekeeper services operating in other States during my travels, and our service was based on data thus gathered.

We started with one housekeeper the first month, and then it grew like Topsy.  Miss Barbara Evans of the Department of Social Services was appointed by the Commonwealth Government to watch the operations and she considered we were handling the matter capably, satisfying the requirements of the Commonwealth and State Governments.  We then received Government help and that of the Lotteries Commission.  I carried the responsibility for running it, employing a supervisor to assess the calls and direct the housekeepers.

It became necessary to advertise for housekeepers both on a live-in and daily basis. Many of the most satisfactory women were past middle age; experienced in running their own homes. good cooks and able to budget.  They had their own preferences, some liking to work with the elderly, while others were good with young children.  English grandmothers visiting relatives were excellent.  Trained nurses were employed as Home Visitors, and they paid regular calls on clients to ensure that all was well with the household and the housekeeper.

There were times when we were asked to send a housekeeper immediately when a mother had been taken to hospital.  The social worker at the hospital would give the address and stress the urgency.  In such cases we sometimes sent the housekeeper by taxi only to be advised that the house was locked up and she could not get in.

Frantic enquiries would ascertain the fact that the key was in the mother's handbag at the hospital. and that there was a small child to fetch from school.  The headmaster had to be asked to hold the child until it was picked up, the housekeeper showing her credentials.  After all this it would probably be found that there was very little food in the house and no money to buy any, so that the housekeeper  had to spend her own money to buy the essentials until we could make arrangements for her to be financed.

We learned the hard way!  When asked to send a housekeeper on a Friday we refused unless there was sufficient food or money available to feed the family over the weekend.  *We found many social workers were not practical people. and it was necessary to point out that it was our task only to provide the housekeeper and their responsibility to take care of the other necessities.

As soon as pregnant mothers became aware of the P.E.H.S. they rang up and tried to book a live-in housekeeper in advance for the time the baby was due.  This was not our function, and we explained that they had months in which to prepare and it was not therefore an emergency.  Occasionally we had young people on working holidays who were willing to take a job for two or three weeks and then move on, and when we were short of housekeepers they were very useful.  On one occasion we had two trained nurses offering their services, and they cared for a woman who had been discharged from hospital while still in need of constant care until she could obtained a permanent housekeeper.   She was delighted with the services of those two nurses.

One very nice woman who came from Canada was placed in a good class home to care for a man and his children while his wife was in hospital.  He made a point of telling us how very happy they were with the housekeeper and that she had been a good cook.  The Home Visitors also gave a glowing account of the situation.   Some time after the wife returned home and the housekeeper had left, he rang to ask for the housekeeper's address.  It appeared he had just received his *telephone account and it was astronomical.  He had given the housekeeper permission to use the 'phone and she had been ringing her people in Canada.  Fortunately he could afford to pay and he admitted that it was entirely his own fault and that we were not in any way responsible."

I am not denigrating trained social workers in general as I know what a wonderful job they do,  but I remember mum telling me many years ago that many trained social workers had not had a lot of experience of life in general and we often lacking in practicalities.   Mum had never had any training at all in social welfare work but just tackled each event as it presented itself in her usual efficient way.  I think her being older when she began this type of work helped her understand what was needed.

*In those days telephone accounts were received 4 times a year and not monthly as they are now so it likely was quite a large one..

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Well I'll be blowed!  I knew I had this episode ready typed and ready to post in sequence and then it disappeared.  As this wonderful project was somewhat of a failure in the long term I decided not to worry about it but as it has returned to my drafts so here goes.  In life we do have to take the bad with the good and this is one project that eventually failed.  Unfortunately it is a rather long post but I feel best to tell it all in one episode.  So much effort spoiled for no really good reason except the government could have been a little more flexible.

Except from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 182-185)


This committee became very concerned regarding the large number of children whose parents were working, and who were left to their own devices after school.  The latch key was often hung around their necks on string, and they were therefore called "The Latch Key Kids".

While in Sydney, attending a conference of the Council of Social Service, I was taken round a number of their supervised playgrounds by a member of Sydney City Council, and was very impressed with the facilities available for young people who had need of occupation, amusement sport and care in that large city.

The officer took me to various parks and gardens where suitable small buildings had been erected by the Council to house equipment for use inside in wet weather and outside for sport in fine weather.  Each building had its own supervisor, trained for the purpose, and it was noticed that the permanent outdoor equipment was much more imaginative than the ordinary swing, slide and seesaw usually provided.  Apparently the grounds were opened at about 9 a.m. and closed about 6 p.m. although, in one particular case there was an upper storey, this part was available for young people until 9 p.m.

I visited one ground near the Opera House and in close proximity to a school, where the children piled in at lunch time and, having hastily disposed of the necessary food, were permitted to play with footballs and other sporting gear for the rest of the school playtime period.  The supervisor, obviously a friend of them all, supervised and helped where necessary.  (Just for fun, a picture of the Sydney Opera House):
I obtained all possible literature and information regarding these excellent facilities for our Childhood and Youth Committee and the members were very impressed and we decided to seek support for similar supervised playgrounds in Western Australia.

We endeavoured to gain the backing of the National Fitness Council and local Shire Councils without success.  The main drawback was the need for money with which to build the centres and pay the salaries of the supervisors.  In addition, the bogey of vandalism reared its head.

Meanwhile, Melbourne had started some centres for Latch Key Kids, using school facilities, which had met with some success, and our committee decided to investigate the possibility of starting up something on those lines.

The Director of Primary Education in W.A., Mr Steve Wallace, was a member of our committee, and he kindly obtained some figures for us as to the number of children likely to be available and interested for an experimental centre.

It was decided that we would try to start 'AFTER SCHOOL CLUBS' at suitable schools, to which boys and girls would go straight from school. enjoy a snack as they would if Mum were home, and be pleasantly occupied until 5 p.m. by which time most parents would be returning home from work.  It was felt that children left to teir own devices could be caught up in undesirable gangs, leading to petty thieving and other forms of delinquency.

Before making any plans it was necessary to obtain the permission of Dr Robertson, Director of Education in W.A., for the school grounds and toilets to be available until 5 p.m. each week night for the use of the proposed After School Club.

The Parents and Citizens Association, which had its own building in the grounds of the proposed first club, was asked for permission to use their room for the after school activities, on the definite understanding that it would be taken care of and left in a clean condition.

Mr Williams, Headmaster of Subiaco Primary School, which had been chosen for the first club, was enthusiastic and gave the proposition his wholehearted support,

Permission was given by the Education Department for the use of the premises on the understanding that the Deputy Headmaster, Mr Rigg, was appointed to take charge of the activities for which he was to receive a salary of £10 a week, a not inconsiderable sum at that time.  P and C also gave their permission.

It was hoped we would be able to run this service without making a charge on parents, and we therefore made an appeal for donations.  Papers and radio gave us publicity and a few small amounts came in.  To our great delight Mr Tom Wardle (there's that name again) (now Sir Thomas Wardle) sent us a cheque for £250.  We decided to call the first centre "The Wardle Recreation Centre", and it was opened by Tom himself.

Tom Wardle was asked to serve on the committee and, at a meeting with Professor Saint in the Chair, Tom quietly handed over a cheque for £5,000 to further the project, giving the Chairman a shock and depriving him of the usual flow of words for a few minutes.

I now realise we should then and there have asked the media for more publicity, and pressed the State Government and Lotteries Commission to give financial backing to this very necessary work.  However, delinquency had not become as widespread then as it is now and we may not have succeeded.

A woman who lived nearby was employed to prepare the snacks, clear away, and tidy the premises. Expenses were quite heavy, but the children enjoyed the centre, and the Headmaster reported considerable improvement in school work and behaviour in general.

Mrs T.M.Chadwick became Secretary of the centres, and Mrs J. Anketell was appointed Purchasing Officer to buy the necessary snacks and equipment.

In due course we opened four centres and they were all going well and doing excellent work, being established in districts of the greatest need.

Mr Wardle decided to ascertain where his money was being spent and sent an accountant to look into the matter.  It was confirmed that there was no expenditures of the Wardle money for anything but the school centres, and it was certainly not finding its way into our ordinary Council running expenses.  However, Tom objected to the Education Department's edict that we must employ Deputy Headmasters of schools as supervisors, and pay them £10 per week each, when they were already well paid, with the result that he ceased further financial support.

We endeavoured to raise money from all the well known sources, but without success.  It seemed incredible to us that parents refused to contribute even a small amount when we were looking after the welfare of their children.  When the P and C started swimming classes parents willingly paid sixpence a day to allow children to spend a very limited time in the pool, but they would not pay the same amount for our care of the children at the centre.

To us it was a heartbreak and a great disappointment when we had to close the centres, because we knew so many of the children needed care.

A new group has been formed to commence similar centres and w ehope they will obtain the necessary financial support.  Already there are rumours of difficulties.  We wish them well and feel sure that, if successful, their efforts will save many children from coming to grief.

I personally don't blame Tom Wardle for withdrawing funds.  It would have been a very good job for a person for whom a salary boost would have done much good.  I only wish I could tell you positively that the new group had some success with their venture but it is so long ago now and, even if mum had told me about it at the time. which I doubt she did, I do not remember.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


As this is now April in 2015, it seems strange typing this from mum's book which she wrote in the early 1980s but it does give an insight into the minds of people back then regarding the coming of computers.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 186-187)

"Technological changes round the world started to cause a little worry, and a conference was held in Perth with *Sir Lawrence Jackson in the Chair to try to discover whether or not these changes were likely to affect Western Australia in the near future.

People from all walks of life were invited to attend the conference and they included representatives from the **University, employer's organisations, labour unions and specialists from many fields.  Mrs Catherine King and I were the only women present, representing the ***A.B.C. and Council of Social Services respectively.

The subject was very thoroughly discussed and, although all felt a little uneasy at the prospect of coming changes, in the end it was agreed that computers, which were extremely costly, were unlikely to make any great impact on Western Australia for some time, because the majority of our industries were too small to be able to afford the major developments envisaged.

 In a few short years we have proved to be wrong.  The computer age is with us and the cost of these machines is no longer prohibitive.  The children are permitted to take adding machines to school, and we wonder if their mental capacity will suffer.  (Mum you made an excellent good point there!!)

"THE CHIPS ARE DOWN" and we feel helpless and apprehensive at the inevitable changes which threaten our life style, require changes in education, and may even make it difficult for large number of our young people to find gainful and desirable employment.

Unions are already demanding shorter working weeks which they feel may make it possible for more men and women to be absorbed into the workforce, and earlier retirement seems to be gaining support.  (Somewhat different to the present day when the Labor Party extended the retirement age to 67 and now the present government is talking retirement age at 70.  Back in the 1980s women were eligible for the pension at age 60 and men at 65).

 One wonders what are the future problems to be faced by the children of today,

In addition we are concerned with biological research and its frightening discoveries. possibilities and consequences for both the animal world and human beings."

* Sir Lawrence Jackson KCMG (1914-1993) was a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia.  He was appointed as a Supreme Court Judge in 1949 and became Chief Justice in 1969.

** In the 1980s the University of Western Australia was the only university in Perth.  Since then 4 more universities now exist here: Edith Cowan, Murdoch, Curtin and Notre Dame.

***  ABC of course stands for what was the Australian Broadcasting Commission but now known as the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Another short episode but I am still endeavouring to keep each section separate from the other.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 185-186)

"Citizens Advice Bureau and Wardle Recreation Centre at the Perth Royal Show

The Royal Show in Perth is always an excellent venue for publicity and, in order to let people know something of the work of the Council, it was decided that we would endeavour to rent a small portion of the Centennial Hall to show what had been accomplished.  I contacted the Royal Agricultural Society and they found us a small stand sufficient for our needs at reasonable cost.

Without charge, an expert very kindly designed the layout for us.  Our name stood out in very large letters over the top of the stand, a folding screen each side provided space for exhibits and kept us apart from our neighbours; there was room for a small table and two chairs for people seeking advice, and along the front - facing inwards - we had a set of shelves the top of which was suitably high to display pamphlets.  The shelves were invaluable for supplies of necessary papers and equipment.

On the folding screens we had very much enlarged photographs of the C.A.B. and Wardle Centres in operation; the latter showing children happily engaged in activities, and they created considerable interest.

We had gathered together large quantities of pamphlets on every subject connected with welfare, health, young groups etc., and we dismayed when replacement supplies of some of the most important, such a V.D., were unobtainable as they were out of print.

People are not well informed about V.D. and we watched many people pick up a welfare pamphlet, put it over the pile of V.D. papers, and take the two away, thus gaining very important information without embarrassment.

Hundreds of people sought information and used us an active C.A.B., asking questions on many subjects which came within our capacity to answer.

Our wonderful volunteers manned the exhibit on roster, and I filled in whenever possible and necessary.  It was considered to have been a very worthwhile effort."

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


A short post this time as I am endeavouring to keep each section separate to the other, although if a section is overlong I will split it into two.

I remember years ago mum saying to me that she felt that although war widows and their families were very well looked after, civilian widows were not and here it explains just what was done to ease the burden they and their families often suffered.

Except from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 179-180)

"Two sub-committees were formed by the Council of Social Services, namely the Family Welfare Committee and the Child and Youth Committee, and both of which I was an ex-officio member.

I was elected to be Chairman of the Family Welfare Committee and we were very active dealing with any subject at all concerned with the welfare of the family.  Many subjects were brought forward to this committee arose from our work in the Citizens Advice Bureau, and it was the members of this committee who supported me in my endeavours to form the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service.

Although were was an Association of Civilian Widows we found that, the CAB being within a few doors of the Department of Social Services (now Centrelink) in Murray Street, many women who had been widowed, and were simply handed forms by this government department, came to the C.A.B., sometimes in tears, because they needed help to complete the forms and had no idea how to handle their problems.  In many cases they had little or no money, their husbands had handled everything and sudden death had left them entirely bereft.

Our committee decided to prepare a Guide to Widows, going through the procedures of everything from the moment of death.  The questions of wills, next of kin, funerals, insurances and compensation were all dealt with and exhaustive enquiries were made to ensure that the information given was accurate.  The book was obtainable from headquarters, and in great demand. At abut the same time we heard that the Rotary Club had also become aware of the disabilities suffered by women whose husbands had kept them apart from the business side of the family and were starting a campaign called "Teaching your Wife to be a Widow".

We also took action regarding the Door to Door Sales act, and were delighted when the seven day cooling off period became law.

Wine saloons also came into our line of fire.  There was a saloon near our CAB office and, at night, there were also numerous intoxicated people nearby, including aborigines.

Noise abatement was also a matter of concern, as it is now.  Hotel gardens with their bands and entertainments make lief difficult for people living nearby, particularly for students trying to study, sick people and families with young children.

When I retired from the position of Chairman of this committee, my place was taken by Mrs Dulcie Hodgson."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


This may not be of much interest to those who are not Western Australian as Paul Ritter was so well known here in Perth.  He was quite a controversial figure but I know my mum thought the world of him.  The story of the old barracks is one that people in Perth still speak about and considered the retention of the arch was essential as part of our early history.

Excerpt from "THE CLOCK OF TIME" by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 178-179)

When searching for good speakers for the Council of Social Service we were fortunate in being recommended to ask Paul Ritter (1925-2010) to speak to us on the latest architectural planning overseas, as he ahd just arrived from Europe, and brought with him slides of new ideas which he and others had developed.  (This is Paul Ritter taken in 1964, aged 39)

For the first time we saw suburbs where children could walk to school quite safely by the use of small bridges over, or subways under, busy roads.  We were intrigued with this new idea and saw the possibility of developing our new suburbs on these lines with benefit to us all.

We were impressed as other had been, but I remember one of our officers saying to me "this man is ten years too soon for W.A. and they will crucify hm".  History has shown that we were not prepared to accept these ideas from a newcomer, but they are now quite commonplace, adopted and adapted by others, and we wonder if Paul Ritter is given any credit for introducing them.

Without warning they started to pull down the Barracks at the top of St George's Terrace and Paul set out to preserve the Barracks Arch, which became known as "The Battle of the Barracks".

Paul warned that there was a move to destroy it and architects in Western Australia swung the National Trust and others into action.  Concerted action saved the lovely old arch and as Professor Peter Hall from Reading, England, said 'THE ARCH IS ON THE AXIS (of St George's Terrace (AND SHOULD STAY ON THE AXIS".  People in thirty, forty, fifty years time will say "MARVELLOUS!  WE SAVED THAT ARCH".

We supported Paul in his fight for the arch and were pleased to permit him and his colleagues to meet occasionally in our Board Room.  (The first picture shows the entire Barracks before it was demolished; the second picture shows the Arch which was retained and remains standing proudly at the top of the Terrace.  There were/are many who thought the entire barracks should have been retained as part of Perth's heritage):

Christmas followed soon after the saving of the arch, and Paul's Christmas card, sketched him him for the occasion, is very apt, and so typical of the man!  (Note Mum, Dad, six children and dog).  (I do have that Christmas card somewhere but unfortunately can't lay my hands on it right now).

Paul's wife, Jean, is herself a well-known personality.  She is a B.Sc., Depl.Ed (L'pool) and MACE.
They are co-directors of the P.E.E.R. Institute in Perth and are teaching Sculpcrete Technology in Western Australia.

They have published numerous books on the subject and we wish them success.  Paul sculpted a magnificent chess set and sent it to the Expo Centre Exhibition in Kiev, by invitation."

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 174-176)

We next started a C.A.B. in Fremantle, and the Fremantle City Council was good enough to make an office available in their Council premises.  Mrs Tim McDonald, one of our best informed and most capable voluntary workers was in charge of that office for many years.  When she retired for urgent personal reasons we appointed Mrs Thelma Chadwick to take her place.

Further expansion was necessary, and it was decided to try to obtain a small bus which we could turn into a mobile clinic, and which ould be driven to regular localities in the outer suburbs on a set timetable.  Sir Thomas Wardle (you may remember Tom Wardle was our local grocer when we lived at 518 Fitzgerald Street in North Perth) very kindly gave us a donation to cover the cost of the bus, and officially opened it on its first trip to Rockingham.  Mrs Sear, another of our voluntary workers, kindly acted as driver, and we took it in turns to accompany her so that there were two of us to advise clients, whom we seated comfortably in the back of the bus which was set up as an office with card index and literature.  The photograph in the front of these memoirs was taken by a *"Daily News" photographer just as I walked into the Murray Street office after spending the day in the 'bus', and that is why I have the Owl badge on my coat and an armful of papers relating to clients whom we  had been advising at our stopping place in the Perth hills.  Such interviews frequently necessitated further action from our main office.  The photograph was printed on the front page of the paper on 15th April which, quite by chance, happened to be my birthday.  (I also have a copy of that photograph which I am showing here.  Unfortunately mum doesn't mention the year.):

In our travelling clinic, we mostly stopped near a public library or an infant health centre, having sent notice in advance of our dates and times of arrival.  The bus was clearly marked "Citizens Advice Bureau" and clients, who found it difficult to visit our office in Perth, were delighted to be able to use our services close to their homes.  Our only problem was to find alternative drivers, as Mrs Sear could not make herself available every day. (My mum incidentally never did learn to drive).

While working late one evening I had three young men walk in unexpectedly and was somewhat alarmed.  It appeared that one of the staff had forgotten to close the outside door and, as these men had a problem, they asked if I would talk to them.  As they appeared to be polite and quite harmless I agreed, and was astonished to learn that they were homosexuals and similar to "Les Girls" from Sydney.  (I now wonder if perhaps they were transvestites rather than homosexuals, but that is only my surmise.)

It appeared that they had only just arrived in W.A. and had been engaged to take part in some shows.  They had taken lodgings and had not had time to settle in when the police arrived and ordered them to leave W.A.  They wanted to know whether, as they had not broken any laws, they could be compelled to leave, and whether the police had the right to search their bags as they had done, jeering at them when they found the female stage props which they were carrying with them.  With some difficulty I got in touch with police headquarters and found that the police had exceeded their rights and they could stay provided they did not break the law, for which they were most grateful.  They also asked if I could get them some medical assistance as one of them, a most attractive youngster who could most certainly have been a girl, was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  This proved very difficult but, after many telephone calls and much pleading, I managed to get them an appointment for the following morning.

In the end they all had some medical treatment and called in later to thank us for our assistance.  they became friends and called in to see us whenever they were in the neighbourhood.  From that experience I have found myself quite unable to judge the rights and wrongs of homosexuals or transvestites.  Having been brought up very strictly, I wondered what my mother would have said about it.

We certainly met all types in the C.A.B.  When working late and ready to go home Mrs Haning and I often found a gathering of metho drinkers on our doorstep.  They were always polite and willingly made way for us to pass through.  We thought the police must have known of their meeting place and activities, but probably decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

*The Daily News was an evening paper in Perth that went out of circulation many years ago.

More C.A.B. stories to come in future episodes of my mother's story.


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 176-178)

"Family problems, including those of aborigines, needed considerable tact and took up much of our time.  One very nice aboriginal girl name Kathie came to see us in great distress.  She was a working girl, educated and nicely dressed.  When working she boarded her young baby son with two white women in South Perth who were running a type of school called, I believe, "Essanda" or something similar.  They wanted to adopt the boy but she had refused permission for them to do so.

When Kathy went along to see her child she found that the two women had moved and taken the boy with them.  She knew that they had spoken of going overseas and she asked us to prevent them from taking her son.  We immediately took up the matter with the police and Child Welfare Department, but neither would take action.  I have often wondered whether their attitude would have been different if it had been a white child that was missing.  We were told they could not afford to send police flying around Australia to trace the missing people and, in any case, they would be unable to take the child out of the country on their passports.  The papers also took up the matter but nothing was done and the child was taken out of Australia.

*Some time later, about five years I believe, the boy was traced in Europe and we understand he was brought home.  At the time of the disappearance rumours were circulating that the women concerned were communists. and that people of that political persuasion were hoping to send a number of young aboriginal people to communist countries to be indoctrinated, and then brought back to Australia to influence their own people.  (I can remember mum being very distressed about this missing boy and I know she did everything in her power to help at the time).

There was a case of incest whether a mother gave evidence against her husband who had violated her daughters and he was sent to prison.  As time went by, and there was a possibility of him being released on parole, the wife was terrified that he would search them out an that murder would be committed.  Arrangements were made for a change of domicile and a change of name for all of them, and we hoped this would prove sufficient protection to allow them to live an entirely new life.

Wives of husband who had been in gaol and had become addicted to homosexual practices, came to us in tears because their husbands no longer desired normal sexual relations.  This was a case for the Marriage Guidance Bureau and we hoped some solution was possible.

Men and women came to us seeking help with V.D. and we drew attention to the need for further publicity.  We felt all young people should know the "dos' and donts" of sex and where to obtain help if required.

Dozens of problems concerned with door-to-door salesmen came our way, and w learned how unscrupulous many of the travellers were.  One of these cases was concerned with an encyclopaedia.  The salesman knocked at the door and there was no answer.  He noticed that there was a woman in bed on the verandah and went over to try to make a sale.  She told him she was too ill to be bothered.  He asked her to sign her name on a paper he had and he would then come back and see the husband.  She could just manage to sign her name and did so.  He filled in the rest of the form and sent along the encyclopaedia having asked her to sign that she would purchase same, without her knowledge.  When the books arrived the husband went to the firm and was told that his wife had bought them, and her signature was produced.  The husband refused to accept the books and returned them, but the firm charged him for them.
 Poor man!  He came to us in great distress as his wife was dying of cancer and neither of them could read or write except just to sign their names.  I got in touch with the firm and threatened to have the case published in the daily paper if the books were not accepted back and an apology made to the man and his wife.   Needless to say we were assured that it was an error on the part of their office and nothing more was heard about it.

As expected, the bureau indicated very clearly a number of gaps in our laws and services.  One of the most urgent was the need for an emergency housekeeper service, the facilities at Wanslea being insufficient and, in many cases, unsuitable.

Working mothers asked where they could send their children during school holidays.  It was sometimes possible for them to obtain their own holidays at the same time as their children once a year but, unless they had family or friends to help there were long periods when their children were at risk if left to their own devices.

Details of these needs were passed back to me as Honorary Secretary of the Council of Social Services.

While at the C.A.B. I was made a Justice of the Peace."

*I knew there had been newspaper articles re the missing aboriginal boy and after much searching on "Trove" I have actually found the newspaper report concerning this young lad and his return to his mother.  The article appeared in "The Canberra Times" on Tuesday, 8th September, 1970 and reads as follows:  

"Adbucted boy returned to Mother" and shows a picture of Mrs Trimmer and her son Barry at Perth Airport.  

PERTH, Monday....Tears streamed down the cheeks of Mrs Kathy Trimmer as she clung to the son she had not seen for six years, when they were reunited at Perth airport yesterday.

It was a highly emotional affair as the slim, part aboriginal boy, folded himself in his mother's arms, bewildered and uncertain, while his young brother Ivan held his hand.    The reunion brought to an end one of the strangest abductions in Australia's history, a tug-of-war between Mrs Rene Heisler, the woman who wanted to have Barry educated behind the Iron Curtain and a part-aboriginal mother who wanted her son raised in his proper home.

Barry, an eight-year-old was taken from a Perth children's home without his mother's permission six years ago, and later was taken to East Germany.

Barry's name is McKenzie because that was his mother's maiden name as he was born before she had married.  She married a white man named Trimmer.

Barry's companion during the flight, Miss May Taylor, said at Perth Airport "He referred to Mrs Heisler as his 'other mother'.  He told me that he and Mrs Heisler had crossed over to West Berlin by car about a month ago and that they had been living in a suburb called Karl Marx"

Barry walked off the aircraft with officials from the Department of External Affairs and holding Miss Miller's hand.

Miss Miller told a reporter that through the flight from Melbourne, Barry had been in high spirits and was looking forward to meeting his "real mummy" and brothers.   "He speaks a little English" said Miss Miller. "but every now and again words fail him and he breaks into German".

I am so pleased to have been able to give you the happy ending to this remarkable story and if you should want to read more about it you can find it on "Trove" under the date shown above and the heading "Adbucted boy returned to Mother" in the Canberra Times.