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Research Guides


Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government Records


14. Health

The Commonwealth Department of Health was established in 1921 and assumed responsibility for health matters in Western Australia. The department existed until 1987 and was responsible for a diverse and changeable range of functions.

Among the initial responsibilities of the Department of Health in WA was the control of quarantine matters. The Collector of Customs, WA had controlled this function until 1909 when it was transferred to the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs. The positions of Chief Quarantine Officer and Sanitary Inspector and the control of the Albany, Bunbury and Woodman Point quarantine stations (including their staffs) consequently became Commonwealth responsibilities.

The newly created Department of Health was charged with investigating the causes of disease and death and was required to establish laboratories for this purpose. The department assumed control of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory and became responsible for distributing its products. The department was also required to educate the public about health matters and to control infectious and tropical diseases, particularly among discharged members of Australian Imperial Forces.

In 1946 the Commonwealth Government was given the power to legislate about pharmaceutical, hospital and sickness benefits and medical and dental services, and to use its powers under section 96 of the Australian Constitution to make grants to the States for health purposes.

Access to some Health records may be restricted because they contain personally sensitive material about identified individuals.

The Agencies

Some Western Australian agencies associated with the Health portfolio are listed below.

  • 1921–87: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
  • 1924–80: Edward Millen Hospital, WA (CA 6765)
  • 1925–82: Commonwealth Health Laboratory, Kalgoorlie (CA 3449)
  • 1937–55: Commonwealth Health Laboratory, Broome (CA 3443)
  • 1941–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
  • 1945–: 5th Dental Unit, Royal Australian Army Dental Corps (CA 5788)
  • 1949–: Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service, WA (CA 5275)
  • 1949–: Perth Hearing Centre, WA (CA 5601)
  • 1952–: 11th Dental Unit, Royal Australian Army Dental Corps (CA 5789)
  • 1963–: Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission (CA 1752)

The Records

Many records created by the Department of Health and other agencies are about the Hollywood Repatriation Hospital in Perth and its administration. Built in 1941, the 110thAustralian General Hospital was renamed the Repatriation General Hospital in 1947. Each State had a repatriation general hospital that provided acute-care, diagnostic and treatment services to eligible veterans and their dependants.

Other notable Health records include general reports, information and publications about infectious or possible 'epidemic' illnesses such as tuberculosis and smallpox. Quarantine records also tie in with these Health files. In addition, some files contain regular reports on immigration centres such as Graylands and Northam.

The Department of Health was also responsible for examining people as they entered the Public Service and when (or if) they suffered job-related or job-threatening diseases or accidents.

EMERGENCY CIVIL MEDICAL PRACTITIONER SERVICE REPORTS, MINUTES AND CORRESPONDENCE, 1921–87
Perth
This series contains reports and minutes of, and correspondence to and from, the Central Medical Coordination Committee. These documents illustrate Government control of civil medical services during wartime.
Series: PP331/2
Quantity: 0.03 metres
Recorded by: 1921–87: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1929–52
Perth
This series deals with Department of Health activities between 1929 and 1952. Matters dealt with include the administration of the Quarantine Act 1908, investigations, control of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratory, health methodology and public health education, and the eradication, prevention and/or control of disease.
Series: K258
Quantity: 6 metres
Recorded by: 1929–52: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
Garbage – removal from vessels, 1930–51 K258, 190/1 part 1
Biological products – Yellow Fever vaccine, 1948–55 K258, 50/22
Immigration – tuberculosis cases treated at Northam Immigration Centre, 1949–51 K258, 210/41
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1929–64
Perth
This series contains important records on the department's organisation, policy and research, and on other health-related activities.
Series: PP576/1
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1929–64: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1929–68
Perth
Records in this series contain correspondence about Health Department operations in WA, including disease monitoring, fumigation for quarantine purposes and the production of instructions and circulars on health practices and procedures.
Series: PP605/1
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1929–68: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1935–80
Perth
Records in this series deal with Health Department activities in WA, including departmental organisation, establishment, policy and procedures, prosecutions, immunisation programs, disease and quarantine control, cemeteries, and vessel and aircraft inspection.
Series: PP858/1
Quantity: 3 metres
Recorded by: 1935–80: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
PLANS, DRAWINGS AND PHOTOGRAPHS, REPATRIATION GENERAL HOSPITAL, HOLLYWOOD, 1941–86
Perth
This series is a collection of plans, drawings and photographs recording the development of the 110 Australian Military Hospital, later renamed the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood.
Series: K1089
Quantity: 0.3 metres
Recorded by: 1941–86: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
THEATRE OPERATIONS REGISTERS, CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER, 1941–
Perth
This series contains registers of patients who received surgical care or underwent surgical procedures at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hollywood. The registers contain details about the patients' names, service numbers, surgical procedures and the names of their surgeons and anaesthetists.
Series: K1079
Quantity: 5 metres
Recorded by: 1941–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE RECORDS ON VARIOUS ASPECTS OF POLICY AND GENERAL ADMINISTRATION, MULTIPLE NUMBER SYSTEM, ALPHA PREFIX, 1944–71
Series: PT1251/3
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1944–71: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, ALPHABETICAL PREFIXES, 1947–94
Perth
This series contains correspondence files on administrative and functional matters for the Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital. The main prefix used in the control system was 'HG' (hospital general), with sub-files allocated the prefixes 'HP' (hospital personnel and policy), 'HS' (hospital staff, general), 'HSR' (hospital staff records, policy), 'HR' (hospital recruitment policy), 'IR' (industrial relations), and 'SD' (staff development).
Series: K633
Quantity: 21 metres
Recorded by: 1947–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
SUBJECT INDEX CARDS, CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 'HG' PREFIX, 1947–94
Perth
This series contains subject index cards for the agency's main correspondence file series. The cards are arranged in alphabetical order by subject and show the file title and number allocated to it.
Series: K1097
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1947–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
ADMISSION AND DISCHARGE REGISTERS – REPATRIATION GENERAL HOSPITAL, HOLLYWOOD, 1948–80
Perth
This series contains chronological registers of in-patients admitted to the hospital for treatment for pensionable disabilities and their subject discharge.
Series: PP556/1
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1948–80: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
CORRESPONDENCE ON REGISTERED HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL BENEFITS ORGANISATIONS, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1952–66
Perth
The records in this series contain correspondence about registered hospital and medical benefits organisations. The information includes investigation reports, rules, amendments, annual statements and returns.
Series: PP372/2
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1952–66: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1401)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1952–80 (CONTENTS RANGE: 1924–84)
Perth
Records in this series deal with departmental housekeeping and operational matters.
Series: K142
Quantity: 10 metres
Recorded by: 1952–80: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
Radioactivity – isotopes – general, 1946–71 K142, 134/2/1 part 2
Medical Planning Committee – policy and instructions, 1950–81 K142, 144/1/2 Part 1
Medical Planning Committee – policy and instructions, 1950–81 K142, 144/1/2 Part 2
Medical Planning Committee – policy and instructions, 1950–81 K142, 144/1/2 Part 3
Medical Planning Committee – policy and instructions, 1950–81 K142, 144/1/2 Part 4
Fremantle Nursing Home, 1955–81 K142, 4/7/170
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, MULTIPLE NUMBER SERIES, 1952–80
Perth
The records in this series deal with activities administered by the Health Benefits and Services (formerly the Medical and Hospital) Section of the Health Department. Matters dealt with include policy and procedures for registered organisations, approved hospitals and nursing homes, investigation files, statistics and records of conferences.
Series: PP811/1
Quantity: 1 metre
Recorded by: 1952–80: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
HEALTH INSURANCE SERVICES CIRCULARS, INSTRUCTIONS AND SCHEDULES, 1952–
Perth
This series consists of a master set of circulars, instructions and schedules for use by Health Department officers. The records also provide information for medical practitioners and registered health insurance organisations.
Series: K896
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1952–87: Department of Health, Regional Office, WA (CA 1041)
DISEASE AND OPERATION INDEX, 1959–
Perth
This series contains cards and computer printouts recording details of patients diagnosed with particular diseases.
Series: K1082
Quantity: 2 metres
Recorded by: 1959–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)
HILLVIEW WORKSHOP COMMITTEE, MINUTES OF MEETINGS AND WORKING PAPERS, 1971–
Perth
This series contains minutes of meetings and working papers for the Hillview Workshop Committee, which was established at the Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital to provide assistance with patient rehabilitation.
Series: K1101
Quantity: 0.36 metres
Recorded by: 1971–94: Repatriation General Hospital, WA (CA 4837)

Quarantine

The Agencies

The quarantine function was transferred from State control to the Commonwealth in 1909 and placed within the portfolio of the Department of Trade and Customs, which in Western Australia was effectively the Collector of Customs.

In 1909 quarantine stations for vessels, people and goods were located at Woodman Point, Albany, Point Macleod, Broome, Geraldton, Flinders Bay and Wyndham. Quarantine stations dealing with animals were located at Subiaco and Fremantle, while the fumigation of plants and other goods was handled at the State Fumigation Depot at Fremantle. In 1921 the quarantine function passed to the newly created Department of Health, a Commonwealth agency.

Access to some records listed under this category may be restricted because they contain references to personally sensitive matters (eg diseases) about named individuals.

  • 1909–21: Quarantine Service, WA (CA 1754)
  • 1921–91: Australian Quarantine Service, Fremantle Office, WA (CA 5650)

The Records

BRANCH RECORDS OF OPERATION, RANDOM ORDER, 1909–78
Perth
This series contains station logs, admission and discharge books and quarantine orders.
Series: PT1675/1
Quantity: 5 metres
Recorded by: 1909–21: Quarantine Service, WA (CA 1754); 1921–78: Australian Quarantine Service, Fremantle Office, WA (CA 5650)
TRAINING MATERIAL (PHOTOGRAPHS, SLIDES, ETC), 1913–50
Perth
This series is a collection of photographs, slides and negatives, which were used as training material for quarantine inspectors. The material includes depictions of smallpox victims and sanitary conditions in WA.
Series: K284
Quantity: 0.18 metres
Recorded by: 1913–21: Quarantine Service, WA (CA 1754); 1921–50: Australian Quarantine Service, Fremantle Office, WA (CA 5650)
CORRESPONDENCE FILES, QUARANTINE, 1929–
This series consists of records dealing with activities administered by the Quarantine Office, Fremantle. The files contain information on navigation, ship inspections, newspaper clippings, returns, organisation, staff movements and training, diseases and deaths.
Recorded by: 1929–91: Australian Quarantine Service, Fremantle Office, WA
Insects, 1942–83 K133, 12/1
Ship inspections, 1960–63 K133, 19/3
Repairs – new works – Woodman's Point [Woodman Point], 1961–63 K133, 26/1A
Air navigation – plant and animal quarantine, 1968–70 K133, 2/2F

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