Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

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Bowen, Diamantina Roma (1833 - 1893)

Lady

Born
1833
Zante (Zakinthos), Greece
Died
17 November 1893
London, England
Occupation
Charity worker, Governor's wife and Public health advocate
Alternative Names
  • Contessa, Roma (Birth Name)

Summary

Belonging to the small aristocracy of the Ionian Islands, Lady Diamantina Bowen married Sir George Fergerson Bowen on 28th April 1856, who later went on to become the first governor of Queensland, Australia in 1859. An advocate for the underprivileged, injured and infirm, Lady Bowen founded many benevolent and charitable organisations, particularly in the field of public health, and was instrumental in the development of health care services in Queensland.

Details

Career Highlights:

During her life, Lady Bowen established the following organisations:

  • The Lady Bowen Hospital (now the Royal Women's Hospital), established in 1863. This was one of the first hospitals to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.
  • Brisbane Servants Home, also established in 1863 to train young female servants.
  • Diamantina Home for Incurables, focused on the care of terminal ill patients.
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital, beginning as the Diamantina Orphanage in 1864. This later became the Diamantina Hospital for Chronic Diseases in 1901 before finally changing names to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in 1956.

Since her death in 1893, Lady Bowen has been, and continues to be commemorated. Among the many place names commemorating her are:

  • the Diamantina River and shire in outback Queensland,
  • Roma Street in Brisbane, Queensland
  • the Lady Bowen Park in Brisbane, Queensland,
  • Diamantina Falls in Victoria,
  • the towns of Roma in Queensland and Western Australia,
  • The Greek Club of Brisbane erected a bronze statue of Lady Bowen in recognition of her work in Brisbane's Greek community.
  • In 2004, The Princess Alexandra Hospital opened the Diamantina Health Care Museum in her honour. The museum tracks the genesis of modern health and nursing care by conserving evidence of past hospital practices.
  • The Lady Bowen Trust, was established by the Queensland Government in 2006, with the aim of reducing homelessness.
  • The Diamantina Institute opened at the University of Queensland in 2007, focusing on research into cancer biology, immunology and metabolic medicine.

Lee Butterworth

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

http://www.womenaustralia.info/biogs/PR00116b.htm

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