St Nicholas Nursing Home and Hostel

During the forty years, since its establishment, the Philoptochos Society of St George, included in its activities, assistance to the migrants, visits to nursing homes to comfort the sick and fellow parishioners and generally to exercise the charitable work to the community.

This thought became real, when after 25-30 years, most of the migrants, who came to Australia in the 1950s and 60s would be over 60 years old and it was important that they would need an establishment in which they could spend their old age and not be deprived of the Greek environment, cuisine and Orthodox religion.

The medical practitioners of Greek origin, at that time, with the pioneer, the late Mr Nick Aronis, approved the idea of the establishment of a Nursing Home and decided that the Greek Ladies of the Philoptochos would undertake the responsibility for this enormous project while, at the same time, the Greek community planned the constructions of the Greek Community Centre.

After the unanimous decision from the members of the Committee of the Philoptochos Society undertook construction of an establishment that would serve the Greek aged.

The then President of the Philoptochos Society, the late Mrs Anna Griffiths and her Committee commenced their project by searching for the most suitable land and at the same time they made all necessary efforts to ensure Government subsidy and fundraising was still active.

They found the land in Hampstead Road, Highgate Hill, which was very close proximity to where a large number of Greek people lived, namely, West End, Highgate Hill and Dutton Park. The land was purchased for $20,000 and today on the land stands the St Nicholas Nursing Home. The purchase of the land was made with the presumption that the Brisbane City Council would give the necessary approval for the construction of the Institution. It didn’t take too long for the approval to be received.

Later, the Committee of the Philoptochos Society asked Civil & Civic to design the plans and after many renewals to the Brisbane City Council, to give the Ladies of the Philoptochos time to raise funds, the Building was completed in about 8 years.

The fundraising was under the responsibility of a Fund-raising Committee which organised various functions and Raffles with first prizes ranging from Cars to Trips to Greece flying Alitalia Airlines (Olympic Airways didn’t operate to Australia then). Amongst the various efforts to raise money, the Committee of Philoptochos applied to the Federal Government to subsidize this project and with the assistance of the Federal Member of Griffith, Hon Don Cameron, the Government approved the amount of $450,000 for the construction of the building catering for 32 beds.

During 1960, the Philoptochos Society with Mr Angelo Efstathis and Mr Nick Inglis, as guarantors, purchased a building, at the site that the Greek Community Centre is now built. When the Community decided to build the Greek Community Centre on the site, the Philoptochos Society decided to sell this building to the Community and purchase another building in the same street. Later on this building was sold and the money was used for the construction of St Nicholas Nursing Home.

To administer this project, a coordinating Committee was formed, whom at the beginning functioned as Construction Committee and later as the Board of St Nicholas Nursing Home.

The members of the Construction Committee consisted of Dr Nicholas Conomos (President), Mr John Carras (Vice-President), Mr Tom Drakopoulos (Secretary and Legal Advisor), Mr John Polichronis (Treasurer), Mr George Pippos, Father Gregory Sakellariou and the following members of Philoptochos who assisted the Construction Committee were Mrs Evangelia Kelaides, Mrs Zoe Sarris, Miss Antigone Andronikos and Mrs Paula Bellas.

Great support was given to this Committee with active involvement and interest shown by Dr Nicholas Girdis, who beared the burden to complete the construction through the company Civil and Civic, and by Mr Alex Freeleagus, the Hon Consul of Greece, with the assistance of Mr Tom Drakopoulos, undertook with no charges, all the legal costs and helped behind the scenes with other various matters.

When all preparations had been completed for the commencement of the project, the Foundation Stone was laid on 21st September 1980 by the then Premier of Queensland, Sir Bjelke Peterson and his Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, who performed the Agiasmos. The ceremony was attended by many people.

The Nursing Home consisted of  2 rooms with 1 single bed, 2 rooms with two single beds, and 6 rooms with 4 single beds each.

The Establishment was named St Nicholas in honour of the late Mrs Ourania Bahandouris who donated, at the time, $1,000.00 with the request that the institution be named St Nicholas. The late Mrs Ourania Bahandouris from Asia Minor, was devoted to St Nicholas and later became the Sponsor of the establishment where she was given hospitality during her last days before she passed away.

The construction of the establishment continued without interruptions and was completed in September 1981. The Nursing Home commenced its operation on October 20 with twenty residents. Since then the Nursing Home has cared for many people.

The Official Opening of the Home was held on the 20th December 1981, by the Governor General of Australia, Mr Zelman Cowen and His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos.

On the day of the Official Opening, nearly all of the Greek Community of Brisbane attended to admire the first institution of its kind, acquired by the Greek Community in Brisbane.

During the first period of its operation, the Home faced the problem of not having enough residents. According to the Greek tradition, it was unacceptable for old people to end their lives in a Nursing Home. So their families tried to keep them at home as long as they could but in time they realised that this was difficult in today’s life and especially in the circumstances when the aged were bedridden. Today, there is a long waiting list for admission to the Hostel and Nursing Home.

The 30 bed Hostel was opened officially 14th February 1993 by His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and the Hon. Ben Humphreys. The Nursing Home Palamas Wing was extended and was operational by August 2005 and was officially opened 11th December 2005 by the very Reverend Father Gregory Sakellariou  and  the  Board Chairman Mr George Amarandos.