Commemorating the St Mary’s Nurses’ Home and Training school

22/May/2020     Mater Group

Have you ever seen the statue of Mary at Mater Hospital South Brisbane behind the coffee cart near the Adult Hospital Emergency Department?

This Italian sculpture was commissioned by the Mater Past Nurses’ Association and commemorates the St Mary’s Nurses’ Home and Training school and is located where the building once stood.

The St Mary’s Nurses’ Home and Training school was built to accommodate Mater’s first student nurses in 1914 and originally had three floors, with a fourth floor and balconies added in 1920. It was extended again in 1931, to accommodate additional student nurses needed for the new Children’s Hospital.

Eventually, the house was able to offer a home for up to 80 students at a time. Over the years thousands of student nurses were able to stay here up until its closure on 13 January 1980. It was demolished in February 1980 to allow ambulance access to the back of the new Mater Adult Hospital.

St Mary’s not only offered students accommodation and a place for meals, it had classrooms which were used for lectures, entertainment areas for plays, concerts and fundraising events. During the 1940’s and 1950’s, they held weekly Sunday dances.

From 1944, and for nearly 25 years, Sister Alphonsus Mary Kennedy RSM was the Sister in Charge in the home. She was described by a trainee from the 1950’s as the Mother Hen… a very caring person who did a tremendous job.

In the early years, bed and board were included with the trainee nurses salary. In later years, the students could choose to board for a reasonable fee. In 1975 the cost for a student nurse was $3.86 per week plus meals, equivalent to approximately $28 today.

If you are interested in finding out more about St Mary’s Nurses’ Home or about Mater history in general, please email our team at

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