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Our future is in our history

From a single nurse walking the streets of Melbourne to our first veterans hostel in Brisbane, our tradition of care and history of service continue to inspire and guide our work. Our long held values of compassion and respect remain at the heart of everything we do.

Today Bolton Clarke offers more services to support more people across home care, retirement living and residential aged around Australia and enables you to live your best life possible.


Our name

Bolton Clarke honours two community leaders who helped to shape our organisation and values.

Timeline Carousel

1884
1884
1888
1890
1915
1918
1933
1937
1946
1957
1965
1967
1969
1979
1987
1997
2008
2011
2014
2016
2018
2018
1884
1885

Reverend Dr Charles Strong and 15 eminent Melbourne citizens meet on 17 February with the mission of alleviating the distress and illness of those living in the city’s slums. As a result, the Melbourne District Nursing Society is born.

1888
1889

Well-known philanthropist, Lady Janet Clarke, is elected president of the Melbourne District Nursing Society, a role she will hold until 1908. A giant of the organisation’s early history, she will later be made a Life Governor.

1890
1891

Annual visits increase to over 8,000, with nurses navigating Melbourne’s laneways on foot to provide medical aid, food and comfort to the infirmed, the elderly and those unable to care for themselves.

1915
1916

Lt Colonel William Kinsey Bolton forms the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ League, the forerunner of the RSL, and becomes its first national president.

1918
1919

As a result of the larger numbers of patients visited during the influenza epidemic, nurses are provided with cars for the first time. This increases patient numbers nearly fourfold from 1,104 to 3,992.

1933
1934

62,500 customer visits are made, including midwifery duties totalling 14,344 obstetrics visits to 650 patients.

1937
1938

Prominent businessman, Mr George Marchant, donates Kingshome – RSL’s first veteran hostel in Brisbane’s western suburbs, opened on 18 June 1938. It provides stability, security and a sense of community to an initial 64 ex-servicemen.

1946
1947

Upon learning that Kingshome is overcrowded, World War I veteran and mining leader, Mr Malcolm Newman donates Fernhill at Caboolture – one of South East Queensland’s finest private residences.

1957
1958

The Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission requests RDNS to shift its focus to relieve the acute hospital bed shortage, which separates the district nursing work and Melbourne After-Care Hospital. As a result, the Society’s name changes to Melbourne District Nursing Service and the home nursing service moves to  452 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

1965
1966

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, grants use of the 'Royal' prefix and the 'Royal District Nursing Service' (RDNS) name is adopted.

1967
1968

The original buildings at Fernhill are replaced with a purpose built 40-bed nursing home to further support the needs of ageing residents.

1969
1970

During the 1970s, eight new RDNS sub-centres are opened – Frankston, Caulfield, Heidelberg, Knox, Rosebud, Broadmeadows, Collingwood, and Dandenong.

1979
1980

In September 1980, RSL Care opens a residential community at Pinjarra Hills, located in Brisbane’s west, which will later be renamed Fairview. The original building offers 120 beds, with 30 additional beds added in 1982, including a day therapy centre.

1987
1988

Plans for the first RSL Care retirement community begin when Mackay RSL Bicentennial Community is gifted as a retirement village consisting of 25 independent villas.

1997
1998

RSL Care home care services commence on the Gold Coast. The service quickly expands over five years to support communities from North Queensland to Northern New South Wales.

2008
2009

RDNS is chosen by the Auckland District Health Board, in New Zealand, to assess clients’ personal care needs, deliver personal assistance services and provide care management. This becomes the first international expansion for the organisation. Today the NZ operation visits 2,400 customers each week with a team of over 400 dedicated community support workers, registered nurses and occupational therapists.

2011
2012

RSL Care forges a new path with an independent Board, underpinned by ANZAC principles and adopting a broader service mission for all older Australians.

2014
2015

RSL Care and RDNS come together as a single organisation, creating one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit providers of in-home care, and residential services, clinical nursing, and active retirement living.

2016
2017

Under our new name, Bolton Clarke, we continue to build on the trust and reputation we have earned.

2018
NOW

Our long held values of compassion and respect remain at the heart of everything we do.  Every day, in all we do, our promise is to support you in achieving the quality of life and independence that defines who you are.