Our history - 140 years of generosity
Melbourne’s first children’s hospital, founded in 1870
In the 1860s, when the need for a free children’s hospital in Melbourne was first contemplated, whooping cough, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid, tuberculosis and measles were rife. The hospital was established in 1870, before Melbourne's first tram or the city streets had electric lighting.
Today’s children are the beneficiaries of 140 years of medical advancement. Science and technology have contributed to huge improvements in diagnosis, research, education and treatment – solving many of yesterday’s diseases and now working hard to find the solutions to eradicate those of today.
None of this would have been possible without the generosity of Victorians – then and now. Right from the start, the public has been both the beneficiary of the treatment and care provided by The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) and, at the same time, its major supporter.
Back in the 1860s, financing hospitals was seen as a function of charity, rather than government. From 1870 to 1900, government grants only accounted for 14,700 pounds of the hospital’s 144,000 pounds of total capital and current expenditure. The rest came from private donations, subscriptions, endowments and fundraising activities.
Thus the tradition of giving was begun and continues to this day, marking 140 years of generosity. The people who put their hands in their pockets then to build a better future for sick children would be proud to see how their dream has been realised today.
They would be gratified to see that their trust and investment in the future has paid off and continues to pay off, thanks to the enduring generosity of the generations that came after them. Today, the RCH is a world leader in caring for sick children and in working towards the cause and prevention of disease.
Good Friday Appeal – since 1931
Started in 1931 by a group of journalists from the Herald & Weekly Times, the iconic Good Friday Appeal is the hospital’s largest single donor, and has a very special place in the hearts of Victorians. More.
The Foundation – est. 1989
In 1989, due to growing needs of the RCH, the Foundation was established to raise, manage and distribute donated funds to the RCH all year round.
An important role of the Foundation since inception has been to prevent donated funds from being absorbed by day-to-day hospital running expenses. Over $360 million has been raised through the Foundation since it was established. These funds have been allocated exclusively to foster excellence in medical research, education and acquire specialist medical equipment.
The Foundation is now the largest attached to a children's hospital in Australia.
Read about the history of the RCH here.