Notice is given pursuant to the Naming Rules for places in Victoria 2022 (‘Rules’) that the Melbourne City Council (‘Council’) proposes to name Corporation Lane CL520 as Cowan Lane (the ‘Proposal’).

The naming is required to provide appropriate addressing for abutting properties, ensure the integrity of Council’s records and support the provision of emergency and statutory services.

Council has been unable to locate existing family members to seek permission to the proposed name and calls for consent from the family or requests family contact details from the community. Please contact us via the submission form on this page or email if you can assist with locating family contact details.

Anyone may provide feedback on the Proposal to Council.

All feedback received by Council on or before 15 December 2023 will be considered in accordance with the Rules.

Feedback can be provided

  • Via the submission form on this page
  • By e-mail to
  • By mail to the Land Survey Team, City of Melbourne, GPO Box 1603, Melbourne 3001

All name submissions must comply with Naming rules for places in Victoria – Statutory requirements for naming roads, features and localities – 2022.

This information can also be viewed on Council's website.

This consultation is now closed. View the background and submission form below.


The proposal is Cowan Lane honouring Dr Ethel Mary Vaughan Cowan (1868 -1943), who was the first female doctor at the Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children.

After undertaking nursing studies at Ballarat Hospital, Cowan graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1897 with a Bachelor of Medicine, only six years after the first female medical graduate. She was one of only two women in her graduating class, and subsequently also graduated with a Bachelor of Surgery in 1898.

The "Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children", moved to the former home of Melbourne judge Redmond Barry on the corner of Pelham and Rathdowne Sts, Carlton in 1876.In 1898 the hospital accepted its first female doctor, Mary Cowan.

Dr Ethel Mary Vaughan Cowan after a one-month trial, without pay became the first woman to be made resident doctor. She was offered a landmark appointment: an 18-month residency. This opportunity cemented Mary Cowan as the first female resident doctor at the Children’s Hospital, and one of the first in Victoria.

Dr Cowan resigned the following year, and sailed to London on the steamer Yarrawonga as the ship’s registered doctor. On returning to Melbourne in 1902, Dr Cowan was appointed honorary physician to the outpatients at the Queen Victoria Hospital (which had nine other female honorary medical staff), but resigned later that year. In 1904 she married William Stanley John Eaves and had two children. Almost certainly signalling the end of her career, but leaving an undeniable legacy.

From the Royal Children’s Hospital website:

Dr Mary Cowan achieved clinical excellence as the first female doctor at The Children's Hospital. In 1898 Dr Cowan impressed the committee at a trial, enough to appoint her the clinical residency in outpatients for one month without salary. Dr Cowan continued to impress the committee, successfully obtaining an 18 month residency with the hospital ahead of four competing male doctors.

She was the first woman ever to do so, paving the way for her female successors such as Dr Constance Ellis. Dr Cowan was a clinical hero that set a precedent for women doctors and their importance in the medical workforce.

More information