The History of Anglicare Southern Queensland

Who would have thought in 1870 that the focus and determination of five ladies who founded a women’s refuge in Brisbane would be the beginning of a 150 year journey of caring for Queenslanders. Read about Anglicare Southern Queensland’s journey, from humble beginnings as a community-run women’s refuge in Brisbane to one of Queensland’s most trusted community support organisations. Today our services include home and residential aged care, mental health, youth support, homelessness, foster care and family support.

The Early Years | A New Era of Caring | Hitting The Road | Aged Care Reform | 2000 and Beyond

The Early Years

– 1870 to 1900 –

The late 1800s are best remembered for the Great Flood of 1893 and the passing of the Federation Enabling Act that paved the way for Queensland to join the proposed Federation of the Australian colonies.

Changes to community support for women also featured during this time. A few women associated with the Anglican Church of Southern Queensland who often made charitable visits to women in gaols and lock hospitals decided there must be a better way forward for these women. Mrs Ann Drew, Mrs Coley, Mrs Suter, Mrs Turner and Mrs Stanley began work to create a Female Refuge Home in Ann Street, Brisbane. The Home was to service ‘those (women) who have lost their character and wish to reform.’

It was hard work to secure funds to keep the Home open, so after 12 months of operating it was closed. However, luck was on their side, an anonymous donation of £50 was made the day after the closure announcement. Mrs Drew went on to secure Government, Anglican clergy and parishioner donations to keep the home open. Twelve years later the home was self-sufficient, housing both women and children.

– 1870 to 1900 –

– 1870 –

An anonymous donation of 50 pounds helped secure a more permanent Female and Infants Refuge in Brisbane, transforming the current School of Arts in Ann Street into a women’s refuge, often referred to as Mrs Drew’s home. Newly widowed Mrs Drew single-handedly secured donations from the Government, Governor, Anglican clergy and parishioners in Brisbane, Toowoomba and Ipswich to keep the Home open.

– 1882 –

Records show that 725 women and 736 children had passed through the Female and Infants Refuge since it opened. The following years saw Mrs Drew work tirelessly to ensure that the Home was self-sufficient, and she continued to support the home for almost 40 years.


– 1885 –

Mrs Drew visited England, receiving recognition before her departure from the Premier Sir S. W. Griffith for her valuable services to the Colony.

– 1889 –

Mrs Drew retired from the Women’s Refuge due to illness and old age. She appointed a committee to continue the work at the Refuge.

– 1893 –

The year was off to a stressful start in Brisbane, with the ‘great flood’ of 1893 sweeping away the Victoria Bridge and Indooroopilly Bridge in early February. 1893 saw a second female refuge, St Mary’s Home, established at West End and relocated to Toowong the following year.

– 1893 –

The Church established Tufnell Home for Children at Nundah on Brisbane’s northside. The home was established and was officially opened as ‘The Home of Good Shepherd,’ originally to train young girls in domestic work and later took in orphans.

A New Era of Caring

– 1901 to 1932 –

Motorcars started to appear on Brisbane streets, and electricity and telephones were now available to those who could afford them. Despite improvements in infrastructure and living standards, the demand for district nurses was on the increase, with dengue fever peaking in 1905 and later the Spanish Flu pneumonic epidemic, which would claim more than 12,000 lives Australia-wide.

The Mothers’ Union District Nursing Association was formed in response to the increasing needs in the community. This would later be widely known as St Luke’s Nursing Service. As well as visiting patients in their home, the Mothers’ Union District Nursing Association established a maternity hospital. The association was also commissioned by the Brisbane City Council “to visit and nurse, free of charge, persons in a destitute condition”.

Additional care options for children and the elderly also featured during this time. Tufnell Home for Children expanded during the war to care for children of soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War. The establishment of St John’s Home for Aged Men saw the start of further care options for the elderly.

– 1901 to 1932 –

– 1901-

The Tufnell Home for Children expanded to meet the needs of the Brisbane community. Money was donated by Mrs Tufnell (wife of the first Bishop of Brisbane) to enable the home to move from rental premises to four acres at Nundah. The home housed 50 children and was officially opened on 6 February 1901.

– 1904 –

The origins of Brisbane’s oldest community nursing service can be traced to Christ Church in Milton. Dismayed by the mortality rates of children and their mothers, the women of Christ Church Parish took action and appointed a nurse to care for the sick. Sister Emma Jane Packer started on a six month trial as a ‘district nurse’, using her own bicycle to ride from client to client around Milton.


– 1909 –

By 1909 the high demand for the services of the district nurse led to the formation of the Mothers’ Union District Nursing Association. This would later be widely known as St Luke’s Nursing Service.

– 1910 –

Matron Cooper and her nurses moved to ‘Avondale’, an attractive wooden cottage at 430 Upper Roma Street, with a white picket fence and its own telephone line (rare for the time), which was to be the District Nursing Association headquarters for the next 18 years.

The Reverend Cyril Mayhew created a logo for the District Nursing Association based on the two maritime signal flags meaning ‘render all the assistance you can’.

– 1913 –

While the world was preparing for World War I, increasing demand for services on the ground in Brisbane led to the lease of another Roma Street property ‘Craigie-Lea’, which was converted into a small maternity hospital. This gable-roofed cottage, dating back to the 1860’s, still stands today.

– 1919 –

The global Spanish Flu pneumonic epidemic reached Brisbane and the demand for the District Nurses was higher than ever. They became known as the ‘Angels of Mercy’ during this period.

Matron Churchill said of the time, “Calls came from all suburbs near and far, and were attended as far as possible. The nurses all worked long hours and most strenuously. I must say our staff have worked most loyally and willingly.”

St Mary’s Home was relocated from West End to Taringa.

Tufnell Home opened a new isolation hospital ward in response to the Spanish Flu. At this time 65 children resided at the home. Many of these were children of soldiers who lost their lives at war. With the mothers now needing to work, they had no other option then to place them in care.

– 1922 –

The Brisbane City Council commissioned the Mothers’ Union District Nursing Association “to visit and nurse, free of charge, persons in a destitute condition”.

– 1928 –

The Brisbane Courier newspaper organised an appeal to its readers, which raised £192/10/7 (equivalent to $15,840 in today’s terms), saving the Mothers’ Union District Nursing Association from financial disaster and prompting many other sizeable donations from organisations and businesses. The timing was good, as the following year would see the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange and the start of The Great Depression.

New headquarters for District Nursing Association in Milton, Brisbane.

– 1931 –

The District Nurses made a total of 11,543 visits to the sick this year. In one day, a nurse travelled on 13 trams, two trains and two buses, carrying a heavy bag of instruments and dressing trays from house to house.

This hefty workload led to the formation of the Lady Goodwin Nurses’ Transport Corps. Thirty young women volunteered their time and vehicles to drive the nurses around, saving £100 in fares in one year alone.

– 1932 –

St John’s Home for Aged Men is established in Brookfield, set on 25 acres for 33 men. The home was to be self-supporting with the men cultivating the land and paying a small portion from their pension. The initial funding was from an anonymous benefactress.

Hitting the Road

– 1935 to 1960 –

Although the first petrol driven car arrived in Brisbane in 1900, nurses would continue to use bikes and trams to visit clients until the Mother’s Union District Nursing Association purchased an Austin 10 Sedan in 1935. The onset of World War ll saw rationing of essential items including petrol. The government assisted with the purchase of new tyres and an extra petrol ration for the Austin to help maintain visits to the sick in their homes.

By the 1950s the District Nursing Association had purchased a new Sunbeam Hillman for £779 (equivalent to $41,000 in today’s terms), thanks to a generous donation by Farsley Motors and the State Government. The new car joined a Vanguard and a Volkswagen in the ‘fleet’ of cars that enabled the nurses to continue their community nursing. Almost thirty voluntary drivers offered their own cars (and petrol) to complete the fleet. With a more mobile service, nurses collectively travelled 57,837 miles (93,080 kilometres) and making 20,000 home visits to 2,231 patients by 1957.

– 1935 to 1960 –

– 1935 –

The first car was bought, a new Austin 10 Sedan. The funds to purchase it were raised by a fashion parade staged by the Queen Street department store Finney Isles.

– 1937 –

The Mother’s Union District Nursing Association shortens its name to District Nursing Association.


– 1940 –

The District Nursing Association numbers started to reduce from 11 staff to a resident staff of three by 1945 due to other wartime priorities.

– 1941 –

District Nurse Matron McElnea was called up for service during WWII, her name now appearing on the roll of honour of Service Nurses from all conflicts at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

– 1942 –

Now a Lieutenant, McElnea was captured by the Japanese while escaping from Singapore, suffering for three years as a prisoner of war.

During WWII, despite many hardships, the District Nursing Association kept going and the government gave nurses an allowance for four new tyres for the Austin and an extra petrol ration.

– 1945 –

The immediate post-war years brought some financial relief for the District Nurses Association. The Health and Home Affairs Department financed repairs to the head office and a number of significant bequests were received.

– 1947 –

A new Hillman Minx, a mid-sized family car, was donated to the District Nursing Association.

– 1950 –

It may seem quaint to us now to see the District Nursing Association in their 1950s working attire, but the ‘matronly’ look still had many years to run before giving way to the more practical uniforms of today.

Neilson Home for Aged Women is opened in October at Chelmer in Brisbane. The home was a gift from Mrs E.M.C Neilson and originally housed 19 elderly women.

Lady Laverack, wife of the Governor, launched an appeal through the press in June, seeking assistance of voluntary drivers and the use of private vehicles to support the District Nursing Association. Thirty offers were received, providing one morning each month to the service.

– 1955 –

By 1955, women comprised 22.8% of the Australian workforce, and the District Nursing Association showed no signs of slowing down.

The District Nursing Association purchased a new Sunbeam Hillman for £779, thanks to a generous donation by Farsley Motors and the State Government. The new car joined a Vanguard and a Volkswagen in the ‘fleet’ of cars that enabled the nurses to continue their community nursing. Almost thirty voluntary drivers offered their own cars (and petrol) to complete the fleet.

– 1956 –

The federal government introduced the Commonwealth Home Nursing Subsidy Act. This meant that home nursing organisations became eligible for commonwealth and state subsidies for the salaries of registered nurses.

– 1957 –

This year saw 20,238 visits made to 2,231 patients. The nurses collectively travelled 57,837 miles (93,080 kilometres).

– 1960 –

St John’s Home is rebuilt at Toowong at a cost of £130,000. This home housed 60 men and was organised by the Home Mission Committee. The Moxon family were the original donors to the home.

Aged Care Reform

– 1961 to 1999 –

The late 1960s saw more than 90% of Australian voters choose yes to count Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the census and for Indigenous people to be subject to Commonwealth laws, rather than just state laws. A giant leap forward with technology saw the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969 and the birth of the internet that same year. The World Wide Web connected the world on a new level 20 years later.

In 1968 the District Nursing Association changed its name to St Luke’s Nursing Service. Our commitment to supporting the aged continued with four new aged care homes opening in southern Queensland and an expanding home care service. This commitment to care for vulnerable groups of the community saw St Luke’s providing specialist care for people living with HIV/AIDS in Queensland in the mid-1980s, and increasing support with homeless youth and relationship support for families.

The Whitlam Government had introduced the domiciliary care benefit by 1973, providing financial assistance to those who cared for the sick aged in their home. St Luke’s Nursing Service benefited from this scheme, with patient numbers increasing by at least 12%. The availability of HACC funding, Community Aged Care Packages, and Veterans Home Care led to the rapid expansion of community nursing services after 1985.

– 1961 to 1999 –

– 1961 –

District Nursing Association President, Mrs Edaline Thomason, was awarded an MBE for her outstanding contribution to the cause of district nursing in Queensland.

Symes Thorpe Home for the Aged opens in Toowoomba.

Four Volkswagens were traded in and replaced, with thanks to a large donation from the Courier-Mail.

– 1962 –

47,919 visits were made to 4,528 patients and the nurses collectively travelled 121,889 miles (196,161 kilometres).

The Association now had five cars, and Mrs R Magoffin donated a sixth car in 1962, a 1957 Hillman Minx. Despite now having six cars, voluntary drivers in their own cars were still required. Volunteers also helped with the driving of the association’s cars, as only eight of the 20 nursing staff had their driving licences.


– 1963 –

E.M. Tooth Memorial Home for the Aged opens in Manly, overlooking Moreton Bay. The home featured single rooms for 20 men and 20 women, as well as five flats for married couples, a total of 50 residents were able to live here. The home was made possible by a bequest from the late Sir Edwin Marsden Tooth.

– 1968 –

The District Nursing Association changed its name to St Luke’s Nursing Service, and continued to be affiliated with the Anglican Church in a more official capacity.

– 1973 –

The Whitlam Labor government introduced the domiciliary care benefit, which led to a sharp increase in demand for St Luke’s Nursing Service.

– 1976 –

The Anglican Women’s Hostel was established in New Farm, and St Luke’s opened branches in Zillmere and Cleveland.

The Board of Diocesan Mission and Service (Mission & Service Fund) is established, and the Social Welfare Committee set up, responsible for homes and the elderly, children, homeless women and single mothers, and emergency relief for those in need. The Anglican Women’s Hostel is officially established.

– 1978 –

The Anglican Social Welfare Department is established.

– 1980 –

St Luke’s new headquarters in Milton was officially opened by Lady Ramsay, wife of the Governor of Queensland. At the official opening, Sister Val Gibbs arrived for the opening in period costume on a turn of the century bicycle, in honour of Sister Emma Jane Packer, the first district nurse in 1904.

– 1982 –

St Martin’s Nursing Home opened in May at Taigum on Brisbane’s northside.

– 1983 –

Abri, a residential aged care home, opened in Southport on the Gold Coast.

– 1984 –

Director of Nursing, Val Gibbs, became the first Queensland AIDS council educator. She and a team of nurses from St Luke’s began education programs which helped to dramatically change public perceptions of the disease. Val and a team of St Luke’s nurses took part in Queensland’s first HIV testing project in the gay community.

– 1985 –

The government introduced the joint state and commonwealth funded HACC scheme (Home and Community Care). This provided funding for basic, long-term care for older people, younger people with disabilities and the carers of both these groups.

– 1986 –

St Luke’s was the only community nursing service willing to provide specialist care for people living with HIV/AIDS in Queensland, even before government funding became available. With the full support of the Anglican Church and Archbishop Grindrod, the Anglican AIDS Taskforce was established.

St Luke’s opened community branches in Chermside and Zillmere.

– 1987 –

Anglican Care of the Aged (ACOTA) is established as an entity in its own right.

Bayside, Cleveland, Stradbroke Island and Camp Hill branches opened.

Nurses travelled a total of 508,749 kilometres and made 137,361 visits to patients.

– 1988 –

The Tufnell Child Care Centre opens. Sub-branches at Manly and North Stradbroke Island open the same year.

– 1990 –

Tufnell House is renamed TRACC (Tufnell Residential and Child Care) Springwood Residential.

– 1992 –

Operation Kinder Community (OKC) began servicing families in the Riverview/Goodna region. This services builds resilience of children, parents and families to reduce the risk of family breakdowns, child abuse and neglect.

Anglican social welfare programs in Queensland are officially united under the umbrella name of ‘Anglicare’.

Student accommodation is offered at Tufnell Lodge.

– 1993 –

St Luke’s opened a new centre in Redlands and a community branch at Logan City.

Staff conducted 166,316 visits and travelled 1,048,355 kilometres.

– 1994 –

Anglicare expands west, broadening their service region to support people in regional Queensland.

– 1995 –

A fully operational community branch of St Luke’s was established at Woodridge.

– 1996 –

By 1996 St Luke’s had seven branches including 51 full-time staff, 53 part-time, physiotherapists, 26 home care workers and nine full-time administrative staff.

– 1997 –

TRACC Regents Park is formed to care for a sibling group.

– 1998 –

St Luke’s further expanded its reach in Queensland, with branches opening in Roma, Townsville and Buderim.

The Illicit Drugs program is established, later to be renamed AMEND (Assisting Mothers End the Need for Drugs).

Operation Kinder Community (OKC) is formally aligned with Anglicare Tufnell Welfare Services.

– 1999 –

St Luke’s respite centre opened at Robina on the Gold Coast.

St Luke’s developed a Community Practice series of continuing education units for national and international markets.

In-Sync began in the Redlands district. The name, which stands for In Supporting Young People in the Community, was chosen by the young people who live in that area.

2000 and Beyond

– 2000 to now –

Important milestones of this period include Australia’s celebration of the centenary of Federation in 2001; the ‘apology speech’ by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for the mistreatment of Indigenous Australians in 2008; and the introduction of the Commonwealth Government’s ‘My Aged Care’ initiative in 2013 to make it easier for older people, their families, and carers to be assessed and access aged care services.

The caring service that the Anglican Church provides in the Queensland community enters its second century.

The Anglican Community Services Commission (ACSC) brought together all of the services including Anglican Care of the Aged (ACOTA), St Luke’s Nursing Service and Anglicare (Southern Queensland) in 2005. The following year these services merged under the name Spiritus.

By 2012, the name Anglicare Southern Queensland is officially adopted, replacing Spiritus. This reflects Anglicare’s connection with the Anglicare Australia network and better identifies its services with the mission of the Anglican Church.

This year Anglicare Southern Queensland celebrates 150 years. Although there have been a few name changes over the years, our 3,000+ staff and 639 volunteers commitment remains the same – to connect with people at every stage of their life journey, responding with love, care, hope and humility to the needs of community members who require support.

– 2000 to now –

– 2000 –

St Luke’s Volunteer Program started.

The Homeless Project began operating in Brisbane South, Brisbane North and Townsville.

– 2002 –

Anglicare Age Advantage is established, offering employment services to the Gold Coast’s mature-aged unemployed.

St Luke’s Longreach sub-branch opened.


– 2003 –

Anglicare Age Advantage was renamed Jobcare and opened an office in Fortitude Valley, offering services to the mature aged, disabled and long-term unemployed.

– 2004 –

The Centenary celebrations of nursing services through St Luke’s Nursing Service take place. More than 500 staff and volunteers are providing services in Queensland and New South Wales.

Tufnell Residential and Community Care (TRACC) Springwood begins offering Intensive Foster Care services. TRACC Logan Place opens.

– 2005 –

The Anglican Community Services Commission (ACSC) brings together all of the services that make up Anglicare Southern Queensland today including:

  • Anglican Care of the Aged (ACOTA)
  • St Luke’s Nursing Service
  • Anglicare (Southern Queensland)

Together they provide community services for more than 27,000 clients every year, with over 2,000 staff and volunteers from over 60 branch locations.

– 2006 –

The services merge under the name Spiritus.

– 2008 –

St John’s Home for Men celebrates 75 years of service.

– 2009 –

Jobcare opens offices in Burleigh Heads, Fortitude Valley, Geebung, Labrador, Oxenford, Southport and Strathpine.

– 2012 –

This year represents a time of change for the organisation. The name Anglicare Southern Queensland is officially adopted, replacing Spiritus. This reflects Anglicare’s connection with the Anglicare Australia network and better identifies its services with the mission of the Anglican Church.

The first Anglicare Health and Wellness Centre opened in Strathpine.

Metro South’s Cleveland office opened.

St John’s Home for Men celebrates 80 years of caring at the same location on 9 November.

Symes Grove at Taigum commemorated 50 years of care on 20 November.

– 2013 –

The new Metro South office officially opened on 19 February, with an abundance of open spaces for training and group sessions with clients.

– 2015 –

Interior decorating competition ‘Deco Room’ for Women and Families Homelessness Services in Toowong.

Anglicare Southern Queensland wins the Anglicare Australia Innovation Award for ‘Deco Room’ Home-away-from-homelessness Capital Campaign.

– 2016 –

Anglicare launch a brand promise and tagline ‘Support for the life you want’, aiming to empower clients to continue their independence and reach for their goals.

Anglicare’s first television commercial premiered featuring Help at Home, Disability, Foster Care and Mental Health.

The development of the INNOVATE Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) commences in late 2016 and follows Reconciliation Australia’s well-established themes of relationships, respect and opportunities. Anglicare Southern Queensland is part of the broader Anglican Church Southern Queensland Reconciliation Action Plan.

– 2017 –

Kirami Residential Aged Care Home extension officially opened on 13 January.

Introduction of Home Care Packages.

Rollout of the National Disability and Insurance Scheme.

The Village Group and Anglicare Southern Queensland, opens The Village Taigum – Anglicare’s first retirement village, providing 300 retirement units.

– 2018 –

Symes Grove rebuilt, and home to 105 community elders.

Anglicare Southern Queensland appoints a Cultural Capacity Facilitator to develop relationships and partnerships with First Nations Peoples.

– 2019 –

The Good Grub Club is established, providing on the job training and nutritional education to young people at risk of homelessness.

Anglicare launches #OLDMATE Queensland, advocating for the loneliest groups in Queensland, those aged under 30 and over 70. The project wins the Anglicare Australia Award for Innovation.

You Be You is launched, a dedicated recruitment drive for foster and kinship carers based on extensive research.

Yarning circle at Carbrook established.

Anglicare Southern Queensland receives the Most Trusted Brand Award for Aged Care and Retirement Villages in Queensland, as voted by the Australian people.

Anglicare developed the First Nations Cultural Capability Framework 2019-2021 to ensure a more inclusive and culturally competent workforce and to create the foundations to deliver culturally appropriate services in partnership with our First Nations peoples.

– 2020 –

Anglicare Southern Queensland celebrates 150 years of caring for the Queensland community.

Today we help over 40,000 Queenslanders each year or one in thirty Queenslanders.

With close to 4,000 staff and volunteers we continue to connect with people at every stage of their life journey, responding with love, care, hope and humility to our community members who need support.

Anglicare Southern Queensland receive the Quality Service Award in Aged Care and Retirement, as voted by the Australian public and is again recognised as the Most Trusted in Aged Care and Retirement in Australia.

Anglicare Southern Queensland wishes to thank and acknowledge the following sources: Longhurst, R. Fuelled By Passion, A history of St Luke’s Nursing Service 1904 – 2004 , The Church Chronicles of the Diocese of Brisbane and the Records and Archives Centre (Anglican Church Southern Queensland).