Councillors at the City of Malvern come up with the idea of providing the first senior citizens’ centre in Malvern. The councillors run dances at the Malvern Town Hall to raise funds to build the centre on a site at the south-east corner of the Malvern Cricket Ground.
The new centre is completed and the City of Malvern invites members of the community to be directly involved in caring for their relatives and friends. This invitation leads to a voluntary committee that looks at other needs for older people in the community and formally convenes as the Malvern Elderly Citizens Welfare Association (MECWA) in 1959.
MECWA begins a meals on wheels service and opens its first opportunity shop in Malvern in 1964 to raise funds to support services. This important source of fundraising expands with the opening of a Malvern East store in 1969 and a Windsor store in 1996.
Independent living units open at MECWA House in Warner Street, Malvern in 1973 and demand in the area continues to grow. The 1970s also sees the acquisitions of what is now the Barry Fenton Centre in Bowen Street and a property in Fisher Street, Malvern East – at the time a base for the meals on wheels service and later becoming a day centre for people with disabilities.
MECWA House extends significantly and is renamed the Olive Miller Nursing Home. In 1998, MECWA opens an aged care facility in Prahran, the Sir Donald and Lady Trescowthick Centre and community housing units in Glen Iris. In the same year, its head office relocates to Waverley Road in Malvern East.
In the early 1990s, the organisation moves into the provision of care and services in clients’ homes and by the mid to late 90s, has expanded services across Melbourne. Client and staff numbers grow enormously. An office is established in Pakenham to accommodate the increasing need for care services in the Cardinia Shire region. In 1999, Rivendell House Community Centre is established in Pakenham, providing social and activity programs for older people and people with a disability.
In 2001, to further accommodate increasing demand, MECWA constructs a new aged care facility – the Noel Miller Centre in Glen Iris. This results in the sale of Olive Miller Nursing Home, with all residents moving to the new facility. In 2007, construction of the mecwacare Malvern Centre aged care home begins, with the centre opening in 2010.
MECWA’s oldest landmark – the original Malvern Elderly Citizens Centre – is marked for demolition by Stonnington Council to make way for a larger Malvern Library, which opens in 2005. In 2009, the first day centre closes and services provided to older people consolidate at the Bowen Street site.
In 2007, MECWA changes its name to mecwacare, which represents the organisation’s focus as it grows into a larger care services provider across metropolitan Melbourne and into regional Victoria.
Fisher Street Centre in Malvern East provides day programs for people with disabilities, including skills building, education, vocation and inclusion support, and leisure activities. Services to people with a disability are growing significantly, both as centre-based programs and as care and respite services provided into clients’ homes, where clients range in age from infants to the elderly. mecwacare is also a registered NDIS provider.
Community centres, Barry Fenton Centre in Malvern East and Rivendell House in Pakenham, offer programs for people with dementia, people with an acquired brain injury and older adults looking for social integration and inclusion. Increasing demand for services in the Cardinia Shire has also resulted in the expansion of Planned Activity Groups to Garfield, Koo Wee Rup and Emerald, and in 2020, Cowes on Phillip Island.
Home and Community Care Services have expanded considerably with offices in the Melbourne CBD, Pakenham, Malvern and Keilor East and since 2013, Ballarat, marking the first time the organisation had provided care outside metropolitan Melbourne. The South West Region Office operates out of Ballarat, providing services across a large area of south-western Victoria. mecwacare has since opened offices in Greensborough, Inverloch and Geelong, with the Melbourne CBD and Greensborough offices relocating to the Keilor East office in 2020.
mecwacare now has 14 aged care homes in Malvern, Glen Iris, Prahran, Richmond, Caulfield North, Mont Albert, Hoppers Crossing, Westmeadows and Altona North; and in regional Victoria in Hamlyn Heights (Geelong), Traralgon and the Mornington Peninsula (three homes).
More recently, we have expanded Community Housing to provide 89 units to people over 65 or people with a disability, who are financially and socially disadvantaged. There are fully renovated units in Beaumaris, Sandringham and Glen Iris. mecwacare also has two retirement villages in Malvern and Hoppers Crossing.
The original Malvern Op Shop is still operating, along with three other stores in Malvern East, Windsor and Hawthorn. Many volunteers are the heart and soul of these stores, which are vital to this not-for-profit organisation, with all funds raised going towards caring for residents and clients.
From humble beginnings in Malvern, mecwacare now provides care services in all 31 local councils of metropolitan Melbourne and across a substantial area of regional Victoria. With a strategic plan for service growth, mecwacare is always seeking opportunities to expand its services and provide care and support to the Victorian community.