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.


  1. Hari OM
    For her to admit to feeling teary speaks volumes of how much this service meant to your mother. My heart felt for her. But there are signs of the more modern, less personal-touch methods creeping in as Govt and private takes over more and more.... even the lack of a cuppa is something. A pivotal time! YAM xx

    1. Many changes were taking place in those days and more people seemed to be doing a bit of empire building. I am so glad mum stood her ground and got things back where they belonged for PEHS. I am sure when they saw mum disabled they felt they could beat her down but she knew what was right and successfully fought them.
      I thought the lack of courtesy absolutely appalling. xx

  2. It must have been hard for her to decide to retire.

    1. Yes, it was but she wasn't finished yet.

  3. Your mum certainly was a remarkable fighter for what was right. How sneaky of COSS to try to hang on to the reins of the PEHS. It sound like someone was Empire building.
    I had never heard of a Richie Board and it seems neither has Google. I get the idea but I have never seen one or, if I have, I haven't known it had a name. I am learning so much from your posts about your mum.

    1. I definitely I think empire building was on their agenda but eventually mum wore them down and right prevailed.
      I tried to find out what a Richie Board was but found nothing revelant. Maybe the board they had showed that name somewhere on it?
      I continue to lean from my mother even though she's been gone for 30 years.

  4. My goodness, I am so impressed with your Mother. What an inspiration to others. I love the fact that she would not be steamrollered. Applauding here :)

    1. Thanks Denise. I feel with all the things she achieved and how she prevailed when she felt wrong had been done, sheis deserving of applause. Thank you. : )