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Our history

The 1940s

In 1940 the first grant of ‘Samaritan' funds for cancer patients was made. This kind of support would be ongoing and renamed ‘ financial assistance’ in today's terms.

George Frederick CardenThe Carden Fellowship

In 1947 George Frederick Carden bequeathed a capital sum to the Cancer Council, the income from which was to be used to "find the cause and cure of cancer". 

The Executive Committee made enquiries in Australia, the UK and the US on the prospects of finding a suitable research worker and a laboratory. The search took a number of years, and the 1951 Annual Report notes: "Means have not been found to attract an experienced man from overseas to pursue Cancer Research."

It was a further 2 years before a young Australian doctor Donald Metcalf was offered the position as Carden Fellow. He commenced work at the Walter and Eliza Hall Research Institute in February 1954.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute

Peter McCallum paintingIn 1946 The Cancer Council's Executive Committee negotiated to share the costs of buying 3 deep therapy X-ray machines for the new Central Radiotherapy Institute, which would become the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute. In Sir Peter MacCallum's long association with the Cancer Council he is responsible for many successful initiatives in cancer control in Victoria.

A new hostel 

In 1948 that Cancer Council had received the Eila Aubrey Officer Bequest amounting to £5000 ($100,000) to use as it thought fit but with the hope that the sum might be directed towards the establishment of a hostel in Melbourne.

It was not until 1954 that this wish was carried out. A property in Upper Heidelberg Road, Heidelberg, near the Austin Hospital was purchased. The Cancer Institute was to be responsible for the management and the Austin Hospital for domestic services and maintenance. The Matron of the Peter McCallum Clinic "organised redecoration in a most attractive manner".

The hostel was available to all appropriate hospitals for patients who were undergoing outpatient treatment, particularly those from rural areas.

The hostel was officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Sir Frank Selleck as President of the Cancer Council on November 2, 1955.

Ongoing costs resulted in the Cancer Council gifting the hostel to the Cancer Institute on the condition it retained the name and intended purposes of the bequest. The transfer took place in late 1956.