|Legacy Brisbane was founded on 18 May 1928. Its area comprises the South East Coast and hinterland from Logan to Tewantin and country Queensland west of Toowoomba, north to Longreach and south to the NSW border. In 1954 Legacy Brisbane also assumed responsibility for Papua New Guinea.|
|On 1 May 1928, a former senior officer of the First AIF, Brigadier-General James Cannan, convened a meeting attended by forty five veterans with the aim of forming a Legacy Club and on 15 May, a further meeting resolved to form a Club. Cannan became the Club’s first President. Although the Legacy movement was originally formed for the benefit of ex-servicemen, it turned its attention to the children of deceased servicemen and this became the new Club’s priority. It became apparent that the welfare of children could only be safeguarded by caring for their mothers. At the time, there were very few social services available within Australia and the War Widow’s pension was insufficient to maintain even a basic standard of living; many widows and children suffered from diseases such as polio and TB which are rarely seen nowadays. Activities were arranged for children and widows but the major effort of the Club was directed to providing the essentials - clothing, warmth, an adequate diet, education assistance, medical and dental care.|
|With the coming of the Second World War, the Club accepted the care of a new generation of widows and children and, in due course, a new generation of veterans became members. By 1948, the Club’s beneficiaries included 1,245 widows and 2,250 children. With generous support from the public through Patriotic Funds and other appeals, the Club was able to continue its usual activities and was able to extend its services in other ways. Social services had gradually improved but financial and other assistance were still required. All children were given a medical examination on enrolment and a dental clinic was conducted at the Club’s headquarters. The gracious old Mayne family home, “Moorlands” at Taringa, was purchased for use primarily as a Children’s Home but also as the location of activities for the children, while the Widows’ Club also met at Moorlands. Over two decades, hundreds of children lived at Moorlands, which closed in the 1960s when the number of children no longer justified keeping it operating. The Club with Southport Legacy jointly owned a holiday home at Southport (destroyed by fire in 1982). With the sale of Moorlands, a permanent home for Brisbane Legacy was built in Mary Street in the inner City. |
|As time passed, the number of widows grew and the number of children diminished so that emphasis gradually shifted to widows, many of whom are now frail aged. Children do, however, remain an important part of Legacy’s work with special programs for children and disabled dependants. Nationally, social security and health services are now much better than in previous generations and much of Legacy’s effort is now focused on such tasks as overcoming social isolation, providing advocacy in pensions matters and advisory support. In 2009, Brisbane Legacy cares for over 11,000 widows and over 200 children and disabled dependants. |
The premises in Mary Street were sold and in 1991, the Club commenced operating in its current Merivale Street location. Over the years, membership of Brisbane Legacy has been extended to include female Legatees, those who have served in peacekeeping missions and members of the wider community who share Legacy’s ideals. Beneficiaries now include the widows and children of veterans who have seen active service, peacekeeping missions, died on hazardous training (such as the Blackhawk disaster) or whose death is accepted as resulting from their service. Until the end of the Second World War, the area of responsibility for Brisbane Legacy covered the whole of Queensland, less a small area covered by the State’s only other Club, Ipswich (formed soon after Brisbane). In provincial towns, Contact Groups of Brisbane Legacy were formed to look after widows in those areas and by the 1950s, many of these Contact Groups became autonomous Legacy Clubs. In 2009, Brisbane’s area of responsibility covers all of Queensland south of the Tropic of Capricorn, less those areas covered by the provincial Clubs (Gold Coast, Ipswich, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Toowoomba) plus responsibility for Papua-New Guinea.
A history of the Legacy Club of Brisbane was published to coincide with the Clubs 80th anniversary in 2008. Eighty Years of Service: History of the Legacy Club of Brisbane was written by L/Brian Avery (President 2008-10) and published by Slouch Hat Publications.
Copies of this history are available from Legacy House at a cost of $30.