“The house, south of Mt Blatherskite, which during World War II was the Lady Gowrie Rest Home for Service Women, was taken over by the Australian Board of Missions in 1946. The home, in a bush setting, was named St. Mary’s Church of England Hostel and was under the direction of the Diocese of Carpentaria.
Sister Eileen came to establish a hostel for Aboriginal outback children to attend school. The house and contents, plus a quantity of linen, first aid and sports equipment and further ex-army buildings purchased from disposal sales, provided a starting point which expanded as more children were admitted.
To start with, Sister Eileen was given an old ex-army utility in which she drove the first 23 arrivals to school each day, until the numbers increased so much the Department of Education provided a bus for transport. By 1954 there were 68 school children in residence and 10 ex-students who worked in the town.
Sister Eileen was superintendent from 1946-55.
Following this service, she moved to the Welfare Branch, now the Department of Community Development, where she helped Aboriginal people adjust to European living. She then returned St. Mary’s for a further five years. By then the organisation had extended to child and family welfare services operating under a cottage system.
Sister Eileen was Secretary for the Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Association from 1964 until her retirement in 1991, and a member of the NT Parole Board from 1976-1988.
In 1968 she was awarded the MBE for Community Service.
Sister Eileen was ordained a Deaconess in the Anglican Church in WA, and made an Honorary Lay Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Darwin, in 1982. In Alice Springs, she undertook much parish work for the Church of the Ascension.
Sister Eileen received a joint citizen aware ‘Centralian of the Year’ with co-recipient Sue Ride (Higgins Ct), on Australia Day 1992.
She retired to live in WA in 1992 where she was assisting an author to compile her memoirs.
Sister Eileen returned to Alice Springs in March 1996 to attend the St Mary’s Family Service 50th anniversary celebrations. When she first arrived in Alice Springs in March 1946, Bishop Kenneth Leslie welcomed her at the railway station. To her surprise and joy, when she alighted from the train in March 1996, Bishop Leslie was there to greet her again.
Heath Rd was gazetted on the southern boundary of St. Mary’s where Sister Eileen devoted much of her time.”
Petrick, Jose. (2010, November). The History of Alice Springs through Landmarks & Street Names. St Marys, South Australia: Openbook Howden Design and Print. pp. 91-92.
Brown, Shirley and Historical Society of the Northern Territory. (1998). Chatting with Centralians: a recorded history of thirty Centralians. Casuarina, Darwin, Northern Territory: Historical Society of the Northern Territory. "The lives of 30 Centralians and their contributions to the growth of the Northern Territory" -- cover.