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Wonthaggi Miners Friendly Society Dispensary celebrates 100 years in November 2022

The Wonthaggi Miners Friendly Societies Dispensary or "the Dispensary" as it is fondly known, turns 100 in November and plans are well under way for this milestone to be celebrated.

By news@gippsland - 21st October 2022 - Back to News

The Dispensary officially opened in 1922. The catalyst for the establishment of the Dispensary was the lack of affordable and adequate supplies of medication for coal miners and their families. With the backing of the six mining unions, it was agreed to buy an old building in Graham Street, demolish it and build the Dispensary.

The Wonthaggi Miners Friendly Society’s Dispensary or

The Wonthaggi Miners Friendly Society's Dispensary or "the Dispensary" as it is fondly known, turns 100 in November and plans are well under way for this milestone to be celebrated

Reduced pharmacy costs

Funds for the building and operation of the Dispensary were raised with a weekly levy from miners' wages. This was the way that the co-operative nature of the early years of Wonthaggi operated, with the Union and its miners' providing facilities and services in Wonthaggi. The Co-operatives Store, Union Theatre and the new Dispensary, all funded by the miners. This same co-operative nature still exists today, with members of the Dispensary receiving benefits in reduced costs of pharmacy, dental and other services.

The Board Chair, Danny Luna, said that planning for the centenary celebrations started early in the 2022 as the Board wanted to make sure that this important event would be properly commemorated. "A Planning Committee has been set up with representatives of the Wonthaggi & District Historical Society, the Dispensary and community to coordinate celebrations."

"We are very pleased that the Dispensary Centenary is also the theme of the Historical Society's 2022 Annual Memorial Dinner to be held on 25th November at the Wonthaggi Workmen's Club. There will be guest speakers who will provide stories and history of the Dispensary operations over the years. Tickets can be purchased for the three- course meal by contacting the Workman's Club directly." Mr Luna said.

Join in the celebrations

Mr Luna added, "One main project that the Dispensary has organised is a mural to be painted on the building in the rear lane. The mural will depict images of well-known pharmacist products and links to the past."

Mr Luna said, "We are hoping that the mural, to be painted by Dennis Leversha and Jim Barritt, will be completed in time, but with the recent weather conditions, there might be a delay in the unveiling."

The Dispensary Board also commissioned local historian and author, Sam Gatto, to write the history of the Dispensary and copies will be available for purchase at the Dispensary after 3 November. There will also be major prize draws and celebrations at the Dispensary over the month of November, so join in the celebrations.

Pictures from Miner's Dispensary website.


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