• Organisation

Diamantina Orphanage


The Diamantina Orphanage was established at Roma Street, Brisbane in 1865. The Queensland government assumed control following the passing of the Orphanages Act 1879. The Orphanage moved location twice, to South Brisbane in 1883 and to the Brighton Hotel, Sandgate in 1893. In 1910, it underwent another name change and moved again to Wooloowin, at which time it became the Diamantina Receiving Depot and Infants’ Home.

Mary Ann Douglas, wife of Queensland Legislative Assembly member John Douglas, founded Diamantina Orphanage in 1865. The Orphanage was named after Lady Diamantina Bowen, wife of the Queensland Governor George Bowen. She stimulated the founding of a number of charitable organisations in Queensland, including the Lady Bowen Lying-in Hospital and the Diamantina Orphanage.

The Queensland State Archives provides the following history of the Diamantina Orphanage:

From 1865 children were admitted to the Diamantina Orphan School, and a Visiting Inspector and Managing Committee were appointed on 1 Feb 1866. No precise date for the opening of the orphanage has been located in any primary source.

The orphanage was charged with the care and training of children whose circumstances included death of one or both parents, abandonment by parents, or qualification as a “neglected child” under Sec. 6 of the Industrial and Reformatory School Act 1865. The Orphanages Act 1879 provided for the boarding-out, hiring-out, and apprenticing of State children, and the systematic visiting of them by members of the Ladies’ Committees.

From 1866 the Matron, teaching and other staff of the Diamantina Orphanage were employed by, and were responsible to the Managing Committee of six ladies and two visiting inspectors. An Inspector of Orphanages was appointed on 1 Apr 1875, and in 1876 responsibility for orphanages was transferred from the Colonial Secretary’s Office to the Public Instruction Department. This was given legislative status under The Orphanages Act of 1879, and the Public Instruction Department, Orphanages Branch was established. Orphanages remained subject to Inspection while members of the Ladies’ Committees reported on the well-being of children who were boarded-out or hired-out.

The Diamantina Orphanage closed as an orphanage in 1893 (circa year), but the re-named Diamantina Receiving Depot continued its role of reception, care and boarding-out of children to foster homes. In Jan 1910, the Depot re-located to Wooloowin and occupied the same building as the Infants Home. On 17 Dec 1964 the Diamantina Receiving Home was renamed “Warilda” which became the Receiving and Assessment Centre for children in southern Queensland. Increasingly, by the end of the 1980s, Warilda became a centre for placement breakdown children, and on 1 Jan 1989 ceased operating as a departmental institution.

  • From


  • To



  • 1865 - 1883

    The Diamantina Orphanage was situated at Roma Street, Brisbane, Queensland (Building Demolished)

  • 1883 - March 1893

    The Diamantina Orphanage was situated at Ipswich Road, South Brisbane, Queensland (Building Demolished)

  • March 1893 - January 1910

    The Diamantina Orphanage was situated at Brighton Terrace, Sandgate, Queensland (Building Demolished)


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