Since then, we have grown considerably through the acquisition of existing facilities, most significantly those operated by the Brothers of St John of God, as well as the establishment of new services.
The Sisters of St John of God
The Congregation of the Sisters of St John of God was founded in Wexford, Ireland, in 1871. Inspired by the work of their patron saint, St John of God, they nursed those in poverty.
Saint John of God devoted his life to alleviating human suffering, and comforted the afflicted, sick and dying in Spain in the 1500s. He was particularly passionate about combating the injustices experienced by people disadvantaged through illness or destitution.
As the Congregation of the Sisters of St John of God expanded, Bishop Matthew Gibney of Perth invited the Sisters to Western Australia to help care for the sick.
The first group of eight Sisters arrived in Perth in late 1895 and began visiting the sick in their homes and established a convent hospital. Within two years, they were also running hospitals on the Eastern Goldfields at Coolgardie (1896-1898) and Kalgoorlie (1897).
In 1898, the Sisters opened a convent, hospital and school in the Perth suburb of Subiaco. They established a number of schools at this time and over the following decades hospitals in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
By the 1980s, the Sisters had nine hospitals as well as pathology and radiology services. Major changes in medical science, government policies and Catholic Church thinking at this time led the Sisters to rethink the governance and functioning of their hospitals.
Recognition that a multi-hospital approach was needed led to the creation of St John of God Health Care Inc in 1989. All of the Sisters’ services transferred to this new organisation.
The Brothers of St John of God
Officially known as the Hospitaller Order of St John of God, the Brothers of St John of God was founded after John of God’s death to continue his work and teachings. The Order soon spread into other countries, with the Brothers providing care in general hospitals as well as caring for those with intellectual and physical disabilities.
A small group of Brothers from Ireland were invited to Australia in 1947. Continuing their mission, they established ministries focused on helping those with learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities in New South Wales and Victoria before expanding into New Zealand.
St John of God Health Care took on responsibility for the Brothers’ operations in Australia and New Zealand, including psychiatric hospitals, disability services and the Hauora Trust in New Zealand, in 2007.
Other Catholic associations
Several facilities and services acquired by St John of God Health Care since 1989 were founded or operated by other Catholic congregations. These are the Sisters of Mercy (Mt Lawley), Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart (Geelong), Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Divine Motherhood (Bendigo) and the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition (Murdoch).
Like the facilities established by the Sisters and Brothers of St John of God, these hospitals were founded on the principles and teachings of Catholic health care.
St John of God Health Care has expanded rapidly during the 21st Century, with hospital bed numbers growing from 1,150 hospital beds in 2002 to more than 3,300 beds in 2021. Major redevelopments and the acquisition of hospitals has been at the centre of this growth. Increasing demand for health care services in the home led to the development of Health Choices in 2009.
St John of God Foundation joined us in 2010.
In keeping with the Sister’s aims of caring for the poor and marginalised, we continue our care for children, the young and marginalised through our Social Outreach programs, including Raphael Centres, Horizon Houses, international health initiatives and mental health community care.
In 2015, we expanded into public health care taking ownership of Hawkesbury District Health Service and building and running St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals.
St John of God Health Care is now is one of Australia’s largest Catholic providers of health care services in Australia. We operate 27 facilities, provide home nursing and disability services and employ more than 15,500 caregivers across Australia and New Zealand.
We continue to encompass and reflect the wisdom and inspiration of the Sisters and Brothers of St John of God, as well as the many others who have contributed to our organisation – both Catholic and lay – in all our services.