Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s legacy

Honouring Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s legacy for generations to come

Janet Calvert JonesJanet Calvert-Jones AO at the 2022 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Lunch

Since founding Murdoch Children’s Research Institute with Professor David Danks in 1986, the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch has inspired many members of her family to support the Institute in tackling some of the biggest health issues facing children around the world.

Founding donor, philanthropist and daughter of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Janet Calvert-Jones AO, shares her mother’s passion for the Institute and says Dame Elisabeth would be thrilled with how far the Institute has come since its inception over 36 years ago.

"Like Mum, I was involved with the Institute from the very start. It is incredible to see how much the Institute has grown over the years. I mean, we are now among the top three child health research institutes in the world, which is just fantastic. Mum would be very proud," Janet says.

damee legacy calvertjones murdoch 1222Janet Calvert-Jones AO (left), John Calvert-Jones AM (middle) and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE (right) at Cruden Farm in 2006.

Over the last 36 years, Janet has served as an ambassador and board member for the Institute, garnering support and funding for research across clinical sciences, genetics, infection and immunity, population health and stem cell biology.

"I was thrilled when I was asked to join the Council of Ambassadors in 2016 and help spread the word about child health research. The research is just so wonderful for the children, and that is what it is all about, is it not? Every child deserves to have a good start in life and health plays such a big part in that," she says.

Intergenerational Giving

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was very vocal about the life-changing role research can play in addressing some of the most challenging health problems children face. Since her passing in 2012, this passion and drive for positive change has not ceased – with many of her extended family and friends inspired by her legacy to support child health research projects right around the world.

"Mum was just amazing. I still bump into people who tell me how inspirational she was. You know, she was interested in everything and wanted to support in any way she thought she could.

‘When Mum wanted to establish the Institute, my brother and sisters all wanted to support her – and our family and friends have continued that support ever since."

damee legacy jane calvertjones sarah murdoch 1222Janet Calvert-Jones AO (left) and Sarah Murdoch (right) at the 2022 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Lunch "My children are involved with helping the Institute. I’m just so pleased that when asked, the family contributes. When I retired from the Board in 2014, Sarah Murdoch was already an ambassador at the time and I asked if she would take my place on the Board, which she did – and she has done an amazing job. Since then, her and Lachlan have given so much – including the Sarah and Lachlan Research Fellowship. Everything she does is just incredible."

"It is so important to pass the act of giving on to the next generations. Giving is necessary. The government cannot be expected to do everything. It is up to individuals to contribute as much as they can," Janet says.

Luncheon in honour of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch

Each year, Murdoch Children’s hosts its annual Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Lunch. The event is an opportunity for supporters of the Institute to come together and acknowledge Dame Elisabeth’s legacy and pay tribute to her generosity and passion towards children’s health.

"The lunch is a lovely way of celebrating the Institute and my mother's involvement. It is always a very happy occasion with friends," Janet says.

damee legacy calvertjones kathryn north 1222Janet Calvert-Jones AO, Murdoch Children’s Director Professor Kathryn North AC and John Calvert-Jones AM at the 2022 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Lunch

In 2022, the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Lunch was held at Cruden Farm, the home of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch up until she passed in late 2012.

‘Cruden Farm means a tremendous lot to the family – it is the centre for our family really. My childhood there was a very happy one. We lived at Cruden Farm during the war and then came back to Melbourne after the war. But my memory there is just being very happy.

"I was a lucky child – I was probably spoiled as I was the youngest too. We were all so lucky though. We spent a lot of time in the gardens as children. Annie and I in particular had a fantastic time – being closer in age."

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch waving from a buggy in gardensDame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE at Cruden Farm in 2008

It is these sorts of childhood memories that inspire Janet to ensure more children can have happy childhoods.

"Today, we honour my mother’s wish of keeping Cruden Farm open for people to enjoy, especially children, just as we did. All children deserve a happy childhood."

Janet Calvert-Jones is a member of the Council of Ambassadors, ongoing supporter and long-time friend of Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.