Established at 162 Wellington Street, Collingwood in 1889 as the Collingwood Free Medical Mission Dispensary…
The cohealth story
cohealth was established over the period from 2013 to 2014. The organisation represents the amalgamation of three Melbourne inner city community health centres – the Western Region Health Centre, North Yarra Community Health Centre and Doutta Galla Community Health Centre.
The leadership teams of Doutta Galla Community Health, North Yarra Community Health and Western Region Health Centre recognised in late 2012 that their shared values and common strengths could be the foundation for an even stronger organisation.
Their research made it clear – a larger, united organisation would be able to invest in the people and research needed to be an influential advocate for accessible, equitable health services.
The teams collaborated to build a new model and an innovative approach to services, effectively securing a future for the community health services that people in Melbourne’s north and west rely upon. Together, they successfully captured the essence of three dynamic, efficient organisations, creating cohealth to connect their communities.
The dynamic and diverse histories of each of the three original centres reflect and reveal the rise and evolution of community health in Australia. Their origins were in inner city localities which were home to working class, heavily industrialised communities with successive waves of immigrants and frequently high levels of disadvantage.
North Yarra Community Health (1889 – 2014)
North Yarra Community Health (NYCH) was the amalgamation of Carlton, Collingwood and Fitzroy Community Centres in 1994. It’s oldest centre, the Collingwood Community Health Centre, was originally the Collingwood Free Medical Mission Dispensary, established in 1889 ‘for the relief of the destitute sick of every creed and clime’ (Missionaries, Radicals & Feminists: A History of North Yarra Community Health by Hamish Townsend, page 5).
Western Region Health Centre (1964 – 2004)
The high incidence of injury in the meat industry in Melbourne’s West led to the Australasian Meat Industry Employee’s Union (AMIEU) establishing a ‘Trade Union Clinic and Research Centre’ in Footscray in 1964. It later became the Western Region Health Centre (WRHC) in 1976.
Doutta Galla Community Health Centre (1974 – 2014)
The inner north-west was a heavily working class area in the 1970s, surrounded by industry and with a high population of new migrants, the elderly and the young. Greatly under-resourced medically, local church leaders, local residents and academics campaigned for a centre to be established in 1971. 1992 saw the amalgamation of community centres in North Melbourne, Ascot Vale, Flemington and Kensington to create the Doutta Galla Community Centre.