Celebrating Women’s History Month—Merbein CWA Hall
GML’s work on the Mildura Heritage Study has brought to light many fascinating stories.
GML’s Melbourne team is currently undertaking the Mildura Heritage Study in northwest Victoria. This study has included assessing the heritage significance of places and precincts across the Mildura area, and providing an updated Thematic Environmental History to reflect the historical themes of the municipality.
We’ve been excited to explore places that represent the stories and experiences of local women striving to improve services for women and families. A stand-out example is the Merbein CWA Hall, which has served the community for nearly 100 years.
From the 1920s, infant welfare centres (or baby health centres) were established in Merbein, Mildura and Red Cliffs as part of efforts to reduce infant mortality in Victoria. In 1929, the Women’s Welfare Club, through fundraising and a bank loan, constructed a purpose-built centre for the Merbein Women’s Welfare Club and Baby Health Centre, providing infant welfare services, club rooms and rest rooms for district women.
In 1939 the Women’s Welfare Club was disbanded and became the Merbein branch of the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of Victoria, who continued to provide infant welfare services until 1963. The Merbein CWA Hall continues to be used as a meeting place for the now merged Mildura Merbein CWA branch.
Image: Ladies’ Committee at the Red Cliffs Baby Health Centre building, photographed in 1926. (Source: State Library Victoria, Accession No. H2011.134/15)
Image: The Merbein Women’s Welfare Club and Baby Health Centre, c1930. (Source: MDHS Collection cited in Wells 2021: vi)