Monday, May 4, 2015


As I have said previously there is simply no way you can keep a good woman down and here she is again off to find out details about setting up yet another worthwhile organisation.  This is a complete chapter in 'the book' so I will have to split it into several segments as there are many pages.

Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston.  (pp 214-


When I resigned from the Perth Emergency Housekeeper Service, Dr Colin Anderson, Vice-President also resigned and was made an Honorary Life Member.  He received an O.B.E. in the 1981 New Year Honours List, which was very richly deserved as he has given a lifetime of service to the community.

As a final request, he asked me to undertake one final investigation for him.

He was concerned about many of his elderly patients who sat in their chairs watching T.V. and drinking beer because they had nothing of interest to occupy them  He was most anxious to have full details of an organisation in Sydney known as Beehive Industries, which operated there under the patronage of the Sydney City Council.

He asked if I would go to Sydney, investigate Beehive Industries, and ascertain if a similar service could be started in Perth for the benefit of our elderly retired people.

He promised to try to obtain some assistance with my air fares, and I agreed to give the matter some consideration, although I could not understand what I had to do with beehives and honey!

The assistance with the air fares became a fact, and I finally left for Sydney in November, 1972, having booked in at the Metropolitan Hotel.  Hotel and out of pocket expenses were paid by me.

I telephoned Sydney City Council explaining that I had just arrived from Perth, Western Australia, and wanted to find out as much as possible about their Beehive Industries.  I was invited to have morning tea with Alderman E.S. Owens, and was interested to learn that he was an old service colleague of Sir Charles Court, and that Sir Charles had been to inspect Beehive Industries when he was over in New South Wales.

I was given an introduction to Mr Roche, Supervisor of Beehive Industries Co-operative Limited, and went out to their building at Ultimo.  The project is part of their Care of the Aged, but is considerably more than providing a hot meal and recreation facilities.

It is now being realised that far too many men and women are obliged to retire from their life's occupation when they reach 60/65 years of age although physically sound and mentally alert.

What they really need are:-


Sydney had done a considerable amount of research into the matter with many agencies, medical practitioners, social workers employers, manufacturers and trade unions.

They had covered the economics of the project, the most suitable location, rates of pay, types of suitable activities, numbers of people seeking such occupation, and employers willing to supply work.

Having covered all the needs and started the centre it was found that it helped to eliminate loneliness and isolation; give some increase in income; maintain self-esteem and a feeling of independence. In addition it provided physical and mental stimulation, and thus helped to maintain health and strength, with obvious reduction in need of hospitals and community health services.

At Ultimo the workers, delightful elderly people, were happy and busy, the women doing the more meticulous jobs while the men, at that time, were mostly employed on simple repetitive work.  They came from all walks of life, some having been teachers, others office workers or factory employees. They all told me to go back home and see that something similar was started in W.A.

Sydney Beehive was supported by the City Council and also received a grant from the Federal Government.  I called on the government offices and they assured me that, if a similar organisation was established in Perth, a government grant similar to that received by Sydney Beehive would be available in W.A.

In Sydney the hours of work were restricted to the number of sessions which would keep the workers below taxable level, and took into account any rent subsidy they may have.  An application was also made for a slow workers' permit. which provide exemption from the minimum wage award.

Morning and afternoon tea was provided without cost, as also is a cup of tea or coffee at lunch time.

At the time of my visit 80 men and women were employed and there was a waiting list.

Travelling in Sydney was most difficult for me and very costly.  I was obliged to use two sticks to avoid being knocked down by hurrying crowds, and I found it almost impossible to hail a taxi.  Using taxis in Sydney was most expensive.  First of all there was the cost of the 'phone call and then 25¢ for coming to the door, in addition to which one was charged flag fall.  (I wonder what mum would think of the cost of taxis these days.......and the availability?)

While at the hotel I had breakfast in my room, and arranged my day so that I could obtain my lunch in town between engagements, and carry home something light, like fish and chips, for tea, having tea, coffee and an electric jug in my room.  This kept my expenses down, but my hotel bill for six days was $160, and I lost count of taxi fares, other meals etc.  (I feel most hotels would charge $160 a night at present rates and possibly much more than that.  How prices have changed over the years!  Even I am out of touch with going rates!)

I consulted social workers I knew in Sydney as well as a number of medical friends and found them all encouraging.

I returned to Perth with all possible data, and was glad to get out of Sydney traffic with my two sticks. I felt satisfied that the investigation had been worthwhile, and that we could find something similar very suitable to W.A.  I duly reported to Dr Colin Anderson and was staggered when he said "you know all about it, you start it".  He thought I'd had a holiday!"

Next episode has mum back in Perth.  Will she agree to take on this huge task as requested by Dr Anderson?  Is she well enough to do it or will she now sit back, relax and see others work?  I wonder if you can guess the answer to that question?


  1. These days ALL of your mama's costs on this exploratory trip would be met. And of course she agreed to take on the task. Without regard to her health.

    1. I am sure she probably wouldn't be out of pocket these days and you seem to know my mother quite well. Read on.
      I just re-read this post and realised I'd not proof read it and found 4 too much of a hurry I guess.

  2. Your moms sense of humour is starting to show up here....'wondering what she had to do with "bees and honey"' . How old was she by this time?

    1. Her humour may not have shown a lot throughout her story athough I think it did during their farming days with some of the weird things that happened then,
      In November 1972 mum was SEVENTY FIVE.

  3. Hari OM
    you got me gigglng again at the end Mimsie. That would be a resounding YES! What a woman. YAM xx

    1. You too I feel know my mother rather well. A long story ahead of all the trials and tribulations in setting up this new organisation. Makes me feel weary just thinking about it. xx

  4. Your final "blue paragraph had me laughing. There's no way your mum would sit back relaxing while others did the work!.
    I can see I have some catching up to do with two more posts on Beehive Industries already up. I wonder if Adelaide has a Beehive?