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125 years of service

125 years of service

Touching the lives of Queenslanders...our legacy will continue.

The history of St John Ambulance dates back as far as the seventh century AD, during the time of the Crusades in Jerusalem.

Due to the growing number of Christians making the pilgrimage to the holy city in 1070 AD, a hospice was established by monks to offer care for the sick and injured.


The hospice developed into a successful hospital which provided care not only for Christians, but all denominations of faiths. 


The Hospitallers later moved to Cyprus and Rhodes, before settling in Malta in 1530. The historical association of the Order with Malta is remembered to this day with the use of the cross of Amalfi (today known as the Maltese Cross) by the Order of St John. 


The link back to the original roots of St John was re-established in 1882, with the construction of the Jerusalem Eye Hospital, which provides crucial eye care to more than 100,000 disadvantaged people each year. 


In 1888, Queen Victoria recognised the great work provided by the organisation, granting St John a Royal Charter. Today, the Sovereign head is Queen Elizabeth II. 


The history of St John in Australia began in 1883, when the St John Ambulance Association was set up in Melbourne. The first Brigade unit was not established until twenty years later in Sydney, where volunteers offered first aid assistance to the public. The Association and Brigade began expanding activities into other Australian States and Territories, building the charity to present day – Australia’s largest provider of first aid training and related services. St John delivers more than 450,000 first aid certificates and boasts more than 17,000 Event Health Services and Social Services volunteers. 


St John Ambulance in Queensland dates back to 1889. Public first aid classes began in Brisbane, and later expanded as far north as Cairns. Although first aid techniques have changed significantly over the decades, the commitment to providing quality first aid training, kits and equipment has remained at the same high standard. 


History and Heritage Committee

The history of St John Ambulance (Qld) highlights the activities of its members, its achievements and the contribution to the community it serves. 


St John Ambulance (Qld) established the History and Heritage Committee during its centenary year in 1989 to conserve and maintain its historical records, memorabilia and a small library. Over time, the role of the Committee has evolved to provide a wider range of activities to meet the needs of St John Ambulance members and the greater community. 


The rich history of St John in Queensland dates back more than 125 years, with memories and stories from special events such as the 1982 Commonwealth Games and Royal family visits. The History and Heritage Committee aims to maintain this information for future generations by collating memorabilia (photos, souvenirs, newspaper clippings and more) to store in the St John House Library. 


Reflecting the historical and modern accomplishments of volunteers throughout the years, the St John House Library focuses on state and national disasters, special events, changes in training techniques and regional accomplishments.
The refurbishment and restoration of St John related items by the Committee brings new life into forgotten or damaged artefacts. 


Assistance can be given to members of the public researching aspects of first aid, home nursing or their family history. Individuals may contact the Historian / Archivist to clarify information about relatives who were former members of St John.


Conserving the history of St John is an important aspect for all generations to get involved in. St John (Qld) welcomes donations of significant items relating to its history in Queensland, Australia and other countries where St John Ambulance provides a charitable service.
If you would like any more information, please contact the History and Heritage Committee.

St John Ambulance Brigade leads the Warana Procession in Brisbane city 1963.



St John Ambulance (Qld) Annual Parade at Government House 1976.



First Aid Kit circa 1940. 

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