Hindmarsh Volunteer Ambulance brigade members
Image courtesy State Library of South Australia

DORIS TAYLOR'S MEALS ON WHEELS VENTURE FROM NORWOOD IN 1953 sets off a wide volunteers movement in at-home aged care

DORIS TAYLOR STARTED AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON IN VOLUNTEER SERVICE with her Meals on Wheels project originating in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood in 1953.

Paralysed by a playground accident at the age of 12, Doris Taylor devoted her life to ensuring the needs of disadvantaged people were being met by governments and others.

Wheelchair-bound Taylor first showed her concern for the needy by organising a small soup kitchen for Norwood children during the Depression.

She became a vigorous campaigner for the aged and disadvantaged after World War II, as public relations officer for the South Australian division of the Australian Pensioners League.

Meals on Wheels can be traced to a meeting in the Rechabite Hall, Norwood, in 1953 when Taylor outlined her idea to 96 pensioners. They confirmed that would rather have a meal brought to them than go to an institution. They gave £5 from their club social fund to start the movement.

The first Meals on Wheels kitchen opened in Port Adelaide in 1954. The organisation’s first chairman was the Member for Norwood and future premier Don Dunstan. Taylor, as secretary of the West Norwood Labor sub branch, was campaign manager for his election to the seat in 1952. Taylor spent her final decades travelling widely to speak and lobby for Meal on Wheels that spread state wide and expanded its services. Today it serves thousands of meals every day.


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