Mother Mary Aikenhead founded the Sisters of Charity in Dublin Ireland in 1815.

In the 1830's, on the request of Dr John Polding, then Vicar-Apostolic of New Holland and later Archbishop of Sydney, Mother Mary Aikenhead selected five Sisters to establish a mission in Australia. The Sisters of Charity were the first Religious Institute of women to arrive in Australia, landing in Sydney on 31 December 1838 on a sailing ship called the Frances Spaight

One of Mary Aikenhead's dreams was to open hospitals with services for poor people, to enable her Sisters to carry on the healing mission of Christ. This dream was first realised in Australia in 1855 when the Sisters of Charity purchased a large property in Woolloomooloo - Tarmons - which became the site of the Colony's first Catholic hospital (St Vincent's Hospital) which was dedicated to the care of the sick who are poor.

In 1870, St Vincent's Hospital was relocated to a new 2-storey building in its current location in Darlinghurst. In the last part of the 19th century, St Joseph's Consumptive Hospital in Parramatta was opened, as was Sacred Heart Hospice in Sydney and St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne in 1893.



Since the 1900's the Sisters of Charity have continued to expand their Health Ministry throughout NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. The following facilities have been opened in the 100 years of the Sisters of Charity Health Ministry in Australia:

Year Opened Facility
1903 Clinical School in Melbourne, Victoria
1906 Mount St Evin's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria
1922 St Vincent's Hospital, Toowoomba, Queensland
1938 Caritas Christi Hospice, Kew, Victoria and St Vincent's Maternity Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria
1944 St Vincent's Hospital, Launceston, Tasmania
1957 Mount Olivet Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland
1958 St Vincent's School of Medical Research, Melbourne (now St Vincent's Institute)
1963 Garvan Institute of Medical Research
1971 St Vincent's Private Hospital, Melbourne, starts operating in December;
it has amalgamated the services of Mt St Evin's and St Vincent's Maternity Hospital (Now St Vincent's and Mercy Private Hospital)
1973 First suites are occupied at the St Vincent's Medical Centre, Sydney.



In the 1990's the first aged care facility operated by the Sisters of Charity - St Joseph's Village - was opened, offering accommodation and health services to economically disadvantaged aged persons. Additionally, St Vincent's Clinic, Darlinghurst was also established and represented a new model for a diagnostic centre, attracting eminent specialists, and thereby delivering the highest standards of health care for patients irrespective of socio-economic status.

With the increasing complexity of healthcare generally and the expansive nature of the Sister's Health Ministry, individual facilities were incorporated in the 1990's. Acknowledging the increasingly important role of expert lay people in senior management a comprehensive review of the changing nature of the Sisters of Charity involvement in health care facilities resulted in the establishment of a Health Council - St Vincent's Health Australia Council (SVHAC). The council's role was to coordinate senior management and strategic decision making between each facility and the Congregation's leadership, and to assure that Gospel values permeated all aspects of the workplace and that the focus on high standards of patient care in the delivery of services was maintained.

The culmination of these changes in the early 1990's was the establishment of the St Vincent's Health Australia Ltd in 1996. The mandate from the Sisters of Charity Congregational Council to the new National Board and Executive was to provide the long-term leadership for the Health Service, brought together as one national entity. A national health service with a vision "to strengthen and promote the healing ministry of Christ and, through growth and development, ensure the mission thrives into the 21st Century".



In the early part of the new millennium important collaborations were initiated with the Sisters of Mercy in Melbourne leading to the establishment of St Vincents & Mercy Private Hospital and later the Sisters of Charity and the Sisters of Mercy amalgamated their health services in Sydney, establishing St Vincents & Mater Health Sydney. In the spirit of cooperation with other Catholic healthcare providers, the St Vincent's Health Australia divested the St Vincents Hospital, Launceston, allowing the Little Company of Mary Health Service to purchase its interests.

Collaboration with the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters in Queensland culminates in the building and opening of a jointly owned hospital The Holy Spirit Private Hospital, Northside bringing Catholic Healthcare and a much needed health facility to the north side of Brisbane.



Today, jointly the St Vincent's Health Australia comprises: 4 public hospitals; 7 private hospitals and; 10 aged care facilities, totalling over 2,600 hospital beds and 1100 aged care places across both the public and private sector throughout New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Our services employ approximately 13,000 staff, are affiliated with over 2500 Medical Practitioners and Specialists, and with over 1300 volunteers also providing support services.

Each year the St Vincent's Health Australia provides over a million occasions of service through inpatient and day only admissions, whilst over a million episodes of care are accessed through our outpatient services.

The Sisters of Charity are also associated with four major research facilities in Australia; Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research both in Sydney, and the St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research and the Melbourne and Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery both in Melbourne.