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Our history book - BUSHIES

BUSHIES history book - outside covers
BUSHIES history book

Book specifications

An easy-to-read narration of the key people and events of the organisation’s first eight decades of service with around 80 sidebox profiles, interviews and essays. The text is accompanied by a rich visual history, the result of almost three years’ research in the BUSHkids archives. Features include:

• More than 850 unique or rare photos (with more than 160 in full colour), maps, diagrams, tables and graphics

• Size: 448 pages / 23cm x 30cm x 5cm / 2.7kg hardback ‘coffee table’ book

• More than 180,000 words across 12 chapters, plus
10 appendices and comprehensive Index.

RRP $50 + $15 p/p per copy if posting (one book
per 3kg Australia Post Express Satchel)

BUSHIES history book - order form

How to order

Online - click on the thumbnail (left) to open an interactive PDF order form and download it to complete onscreen and email direct to BUSHkids with details of your EFT or credit card payment. (Please 'Save As' a copy of the completed form for your records.)

By post - click on the thumbnail (left) to open and download the order form PDF, to print out and complete by hand if you prefer to pay by cheque or money order then post to BUSHkids, PO Box 1017, Milton Q 4064.

By phone - please call BUSHkids' Brisbane office during normal business hours on (07) 3870 7288.

In person - limited stocks will be held at BUSHkids' Brisbane office, 16 Morley Street, Toowong, but we ask that you please phone ahead to arrange and confirm your order before visiting.

Retail - From 10 December 2016 BUSHIES will also be available from these select retailers:

Brisbane: New Farm Editions   
Merthyr Village, 85 Merthyr Rd (cnr Brunswick St)
Phone (07) 3254 2122 (open 7 days)

Mount Tamborine: Under the Greenwood Tree   
Shop C, Manitzky Galleries, 92 Main Western Rd
Phone (07) 5545 4448 (open 6 days, closed Tues)

All enquiries

Click here to send an email to BUSHkids or call the Brisbane office on (07) 3870 7288 for all order, stock and media enquiries.

About this book

In the early 1930s life was grim for many people across Australia’s second-largest State; in the Bush the situation was dire. Gripped by drought, wracked by the economic misery of the Great Depression, communities struggled. The desperate plight of Outback families anguished many, including Queensland’s 15th Governor, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson who, in his frequent travel around the State, was dismayed by the widespread health problems, malnutrition and medical conditions of children he met.

At community meetings, like-minded citizens began devising ways and means to bring Outback children to the coast for sorely-needed medical care. After months of groundwork, on 6 December 1935 Sir Leslie and Brisbane’s Lord Mayor convened a well-attended public meeting in City Hall: a Scheme funded entirely by public donations would identify and gather children and bring them to the coast for medical attention and recuperation. The Queensland Bush Children’s Health Scheme was born.

“Trust in one thing only – hard work,” was Sir Leslie’s catchcry and public pledges and commitments came swiftly, a broad spectrum of community groups galvanised into action. No sooner had things begun to move forward than the dark clouds of the Second World War gathered to engulf Australia. It would be just the first of many setbacks which would be successfully overcome by the organisation fondly known as ‘BUSHIES.’

By the 1950s, four coastal Homes were operating, at Redcliffe, Torquay (Hervey Bay), Emu Park (later Yeppoon) and Townsville. A vast network of community representatives, district branches and committees had been established, to support the Homes and manage the logistics of safely gathering and transporting groups of 30 kids at a time for six-week stays at the Homes, many times each year.

Doctors, dentists and surgeons volunteered their time and skills, with the more serious cases flown to southern capitals for specialist surgery, returning to complete their rehabilitation at one of the Homes before heading home to their families. Other organisations such as Toc H, the Country Women’s Association and the Flying Doctor Service provided additional resources, and the volunteer ladies of the Red Cross undertook the long and arduous train journeys with the children entrusted to their care. It was an epic statewide effort, driven by entire communities inspired by Sir Leslie’s vision.

The postwar years were an exciting, expansionary time for BUSHIES and in 1975 little Cathy from Hughenden became the 20,000th child to receive care. But times were changing and the organisation continued to respond and adapt. The expansion of medical services across regional Queensland meant there was less need to bring kids to the coast or the capital for treatment, but emerging needs were quickly identified — behavioural and developmental issues, speech and learning disorders, the first diagnoses on the autism spectrum — and new research and strategies developed.

The coastal Homes were progressively closed and resources transferred direct to the Bush with new family support services established. What came to be called ‘the big change’ would be a hard-won, 20-year transition process in which BUSHIES literally reinvented and reorientated itself from the inside out: essential services would now be delivered to the children in their family environment and their home communities. This courageous transformation ensured the Scheme stayed true to its founding values.

Throughout its history, the organisation held fast to Sir Leslie’s vision that no Queensland child’s health needs should be disadvantaged simply by the postcode in which they are born or live. By its 80th birthday in December 2015, three generations of Queenslanders — more than 42,000 children and their families — had received medical care and health services from the organisation now known as ‘BUSHkids’.

This book records just some of their stories, lively insights, memories and recollections. Rich in detail and lavishly illustrated with many unique or rare images, this monumental work captures a vital piece of Queensland’s social history and celebrates the achievements of its people and their Outback communities — and the living legacy of Sir Leslie Orme Wilson.


This collection of stories from people who have played different parts in the first 80 years of the BUSHIES history is dedicated to the more than 42,000 Queensland children and families we have served in our first eight decades.

In memory of the dozens of visionary Queenslanders who rallied to the call to establish a statewide health scheme for Outback children, the hundreds of people who helped realise its early efforts, and the many thousands of volunteers who have given their time, effort and love towards helping secure the brightest future possible for Queensland’s children, irrespective of the postcode in which they were born.





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