Memories will be all that remain when the former Stawell maternal and child health centre on Wimmera Street is demolished in the coming months.
Former nurses Rosalind Byass and Betty Meumann worked for 35 years between them at the old infant welfare centre.
The demolition, which is part of Northern Grampians Shire Council’s land and building rationalisation policy, will make way for a planned open space and beautification project.
Ms Byass said the building’s imminent demolition saddened her, but she understood economic realities had precedence over sentiment.
She said the service was initially run from a room at the Stawell Town Hall.
“Our state virtually led the world – with a declining birth rate and a new understanding of the importance of hygiene and appropriate infant care, the service was enthusiastically embraced by some wonderful leaders; doctors, nurses and local governments,” she said.
Ms Byass said her role as a maternal and child health nurse was an important and rewarding job.
“With the privilege of being in a supportive role with new families every working hour can be both challenging and rewarding,” she said.
“It was a pleasure to work most of the time, the mothers appreciated the service and I learnt from them all the time to what was the best way to manage their baby.
“The camaraderie among the mothers in the waiting room and among new mothers groups were an absolute pleasure.”
Ms Byass headed parenting groups and said she even learned how to smarten up her own child-raising techniques in that time.
“We had issues with families where there were domestic violence and distress, we couldn’t always cater for the entire community, but we did our best,” she said.
“It was an honour to be working with these mothers at the most exciting times in their lives and often by the second or third baby they knew everything and that is the aim; where the mother is in charge.
“To see infants now as towering, successful and wonderful people is a joy.”
Ms Meumann was also working at the hospital as a midwife during her time at the maternal and child health centre.
“I had the best of both worlds,” she said.
“I could see the babies being born and then had the pleasure of supporting mothers and their babies after – it was a pleasure and an honour.”
The Wimmera Street building was structurally unsound and dangerous, and issues were further compacted by the presence of asbestos, an assessment by Northern Grampians Shire Council’s infrastructure department found.
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