Monday, April 6, 2015


Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 172-174)

"We had our amusing moment.  An elderly woman came in one day and was interviewed by Mrs Chadwick, one of our voluntary helpers.  She complained that the government had stopped her pension and told he she had too much money.  We made enquiries on her behalf and were told she had paid a large amount of money into her bank account.  The next time she came in we asked her where this extra money had come from.  She said that was "Poppa's money" not hers.  It appeared that her husband had died recently and she had found he had a cache under the floor covering, but she maintained that it was not her money and she couldn't use it.  She was quite indignant because Social Services (now known as Centrelink) would not pay her any further pension until, as she put it, "she had eaten the money".  She often came in to see us and, if Mrs Chadwick was there, did her best to kiss her fondly if she could get near enough.

Elderly people frequently become very confused regarding finance.  We had a number of aged people come in because they had lost their purses or fares home, and we had to try to help them although we had no funds and it was a strict rule that we must not dip into our own pockets.
One of these people, we shall call her 'Mrs Brown', was without her fare home as she had lost lost her purse and we asked her how much she had lost.  She said a nice man at one of the banks gave her £1 (one pound) when she asked him and had done so that morning.  It took a long time to find out which bank and where, but eventually we ran it to earth.  It appears that 'Mrs Brown' regularly lost her money and her bank book. so they kept the book in the bank and gave her a little money at a time.  She still had £800 in the bank at that time, but they thought somebody should be looking after her and her bank account."  (I wonder if these days the big banks would bother looking after an old lady like that.  I somehow doubt it).

"We arranged for her to get home safely and asked Silver Chain to visit her and see if they could assist in some way.  Two of the Silver Chain sisters went t see her together and, with her help, found no less than twenty five lots of money and handbags in various places in her home.  Arrangements were made for her to be cared for in the future as she had nephew who was a lawyer.  When we told her she had money in the bank she said"Oh no!  That must be another 'Mrs Brown'".

Once more office accommodation proved inadequate and we applied for an obtained the ground floor offices on the corner of Murray and Pier Streets, formerly part of the old Government Print building which, by the way, was built by the convicts. as shown by the broad arrow on the doorstep.

The offices were quite large and included a properly furnished Board Room which provided ideal for our business meetings.

The actual distance we had to move from the old office to the new was very short indeed. as they were at either end of the same building.  The government helped with the movement of the large furniture.  For the smaller articles we obtained two wheelbarrows and Mrs Haning and I made numerous trips trundling everything possible from one office to another with the minimum of packing, to the amazement and amusement of the general public and Mr Jim Devereux, Under Secretary for Health, who gave us considerable assistance from time to time as far as his duties permitted.

C.A.B. now had twelve voluntary workers on roster, cubicles for interviewing, telephone extensions, and employed a junior receptionist/telephonist/typist.  We had also a very efficient data system.

Before we left the first office in Murray Street I was asked to write an article on the C.A.B. to be presented at the Annual Conference of the Councils of Social Service.  This was the Fourth National Conference and was held in Melbourne from 16th to 20th May, 1966.  We were also asked for a photograph of C.A.B. in operation for inclusion in the annual report.  A professional photograph was taken and I paid for a framed enlargement to be hung in the office as part of our history.  It shows me on the telephone at the enquiry desk, Mrs Haning walking out of one of the rooms with papers in her hand and Mrs Chadwick interviewing in the background.  (I actually have a copy of that very photograph and the lady Mrs Chadwick was supposedly interviewing was actually another volunteer, Mrs Glad Christie whom I have previously mentioned):

This historical record was later given back to me as a subsequent Director apparently objected to it hanging in the office, and it is now hanging in my home unit.  (I suspect that I know who that subsequent director was.  She took over from mum (the reason for that will come to light in a later post) and I always felt she was somewhat jealous of mum's excellent record in establishing and maintaining the CAB for so many years and also mum's continuing popularity.)

The article on the CAB was duly presented by me at the Melbourne Conference and printed in a book "Community Service" by Professon R.J. Lawrence, of which I have a copy,  Other State delegates were definitely very interested."

More CAB stories to come which I hope you will find as interesting as I have and still do.


  1. I would be very, very surprised if a bank would be as compassionate as that these days. They 'might' call someone to assist, but I suspect they would just brush her off.
    We have come a long way - but I am not convinced that it is always the right way.

  2. Hari OM
    That's a superb photo!... I count 'banker' as one of the items on my resume and I can tell you that the days of the highly personal, stable staff situation has, for the most part moved on. At the turn of the century there came a tendency to promote a level of 'professionalism' which amounted to being separated from the sort of personal contact mentioned here. It has to be said the branch of the NAB, at which I was the lending officer, was renowned for its service due to having a manager who dearly valued the old-style banking. ...sigh... I am sure the ethos still exists in smaller places and country towns, but city banking? Nah... YAM xx

  3. That's quite the professional set up they had.