40 Babies a Year Born Here

Exhibited in: The Alternative Archive – Only Hospital for Miles exhibition, Lake Grace Regional Artspace

Media/Materials: oxidised copper, iPad, live feed

Size: 1200mm x 1000mm; 240mm x180mm

Artist statement:

The legacy of John Flynn has touched our town in many ways, starting with the completion of the Lake Grace Nursing Home in 1926. This building has been preserved by the community and is now known as the Lake Grace Australian Inland Mission (AIM) Hospital Museum. It was the dream of Flynn “to see that hospital and nursing facilities are provided within a hundred miles of every spot in Australia where women and children reside.”1

In the 26 years of its operation, nearly 1000 of our locals were born in this little hospital. By 1937, around 40 babies per year were being born here2 and in 1938 a new maternity wing was built. Maternity patients were brought in early because of the distances and transport difficulties.

No babies are delivered in Lake Grace now. If they are, there is much consternation as to why. Our babies are born in Narrogin, an hour and a half journey by car. If they come too early now the Royal Flying Doctor flies them out to Perth, a long three and a half hour drive for expectant fathers. On any one of these planes a little premmie baby could be helped by the “Mantle of Safety” over our landscape.

Photography credit: Rebecca Clark

Sources: 1John Flynn-1914 presentation to the General Assembly in John Flynn by Ivan Rudolph, 2012. 2Conversation with Elsie Bishop, former nurse.

RFDS live digital feed www.flyingdoctor.org.au used with permission.