• Archival Collection

Records from Tally Ho

To access these records

Please contact Catriona Milne, Manager Uniting Heritage Service:

Postal address: Locked Bag 8, A’Beckett Street PO, Melbourne VIC 8006

Phone: 0402 969 621

Email: Catriona.Milne@vt.uniting.org

Website: https://www.unitingvictas.org.au/services/family-services/heritage-service/

Records Location


Records from Tally Ho is a collection of records dating from 1903 to 2019 about Tally Ho Boys’ Training Farm and Tally Ho Youth Services, but the majority of records are from 1920 to 1989. Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited holds minimal records from Tally Ho prior to the 1980s and has, for some time, been actively searching for personal records and other documents to assist past residents seeking information about their time at Tally Ho. Uniting deeply regrets it does not hold complete records from Tally Ho.

Access Conditions

Former residents (and their families) should contact the Uniting Heritage Service to find information, and access personal files. The Uniting Heritage Service is a free service that helps individuals access information about them or family members, as well as access appropriate support should they choose. Heritage Service staff prefer to release records to past residents or their family members in person, where possible, in order to give greater meaning and context to the information.


In 2017, Wesley Mission Victoria (now part of Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited) was the recipient of a Records Access Documentation Grant to investigate the contents of 3,480 boxes in its archives. From March to June 2017, researchers carefully reviewed the contents of these boxes, which mainly contained administrative files. The research and documentation of these administrative records has led to the discovery of new information about past residents. No client files or personal records of Tally Ho residents were found. However, over 7,000 brief entries or mentions of past residents were identified in administrative records from the 1920s to the 1980s.

Since April 2003, Uniting Wesley has maintained a register of people who have made requests for Tally Ho records. Heritage Service staff will make every effort to get back in touch with people on the register to let them know that new information is available.

The records Uniting holds about Tally Ho and its residents contain different information depending on the time period. Here is a brief description of the types of records in the collection:

Tally Ho Farm, c.1920-1939 & 1991
The documents that relate to children who were at Tally Ho in the 1920s and 1930s are generally in the form of administrative lists or registers, and do not contain much detail. The documents usually contain the child’s full name but only occasionally include family background, admission and departure dates and reason for admission. Sometimes information about where a child was discharged to is available.

Other documents include reports, newspaper articles, and letters between management and the Children’s Welfare Department. In 1991, a care leaver described his experience at the farm in the 1930s, and names some of the children he lived with.

Tally Ho Farm, 1940-1959
There are less records available that relate to children who were at Tally Ho in the 1940s and 1950s, but there is a reasonable amount of correspondence between staff, management, and government departments. These records often include an admission date, sometimes mention birthdates, and regularly provide parents and siblings names. Many children named in this series were wards of the state, and some were from families who had been affected by war.

In 2019, Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited was the recipient of a Records Access Documentation Grant. They completed a project Creating records from memory where ten people were interviewed about their memories of Tally-Ho. This interviews cover the 1940s to the late 1970s and provide a rich source of information about daily life, people and events occurring at Tally-Ho at the time. The transcripts of these interviews have been added to the records collection.

Tally Ho Special School, 1964-1971
These records relate to the Tally Ho Special School in Glen Waverley. The documents that name children include: admission register; attendees lists, receipt books and sport and library requisites. They contain information such as: birthdates; dates of admission and departure; activities; where the child had attended previously; and where they were discharged to.

Tally Ho, c.1965-1979
The documents that relate to children who were at Tally Ho from 1965 to 1979 include: letters; memorandums; newspaper articles; and meeting minutes written by staff and management. They contain information such as: admission dates; daily activities; family background; where the children had come from; and where they may go after leaving.

Tally Ho Farm – Client and incident specific, 1980-1986
These records contain documents created and kept for individual children and incidents at the farm between 1980 and 1986. They include two client files, diaries, incident reports, reports and notes staff had written about residents.

Tally Ho Farm – Administrative lists and registers, 1980s
These documents contain brief, statistical information about children who lived at Tally Ho in the 1980s and were kept by staff for administrative purposes. These records are generally lists and record the children’s activities, income and expenditure. They sometimes include children’s birthdates, admission dates, discharge dates and where they stayed, and details about the family’s background.

Because Tally Ho transitioned from the farm to residential units half way through 1986, most records in this series are of children at the farm, but there may be mentions of children in residential houses.

Tally Ho Farm – Minutes and reports, 1980s
This series contains documents which were generally about the farm, but made mention of children occasionally. They include meeting minutes of staff and the placement panel, reports to management, casework summaries, and plans for the transition from Tally Ho Farm to Tally Ho Youth Services. The records often include admission dates and where the child lived but other details are scare.

Some reports discuss suitability for the program, and therefore some children named may not have actually been admitted to Tally Ho. Because Tally Ho transitioned from the farm to residential units half way through 1986, most records in this series are of children at the farm, but there may be mentions of children in residential houses.

Tally Ho Farm – Dailies Books, 1986-1987
The dailies books are books that residential carers maintained where they would write what had happened during the day including behaviours, incidents, property information, and notes to other staff members. The location of the residential unit was often obtainable, as were the dates that children were present. In some instances parents and siblings of the children are named.

Tally Ho Youth Services – Documents specific to children and incidents, 1987-1989
These records were kept about individual children in the residential unit and include agreements between residents and Tally Ho and client files. They contain information such as: admission and departure dates; placement location, birthdate and sometimes background and the names of family members.

Tally Ho Youth Services – Dailies, Minutes and Reports, 1987-1989
The records include details of incidents, daily activities and operations at residential units and often mention where children are residing. The documents includes: incident reports; meeting minutes; daily reports; dailies books and files notes written by staff.

Tally Ho Youth Services – Administrative Records, 1987-1989
The records include lists of admissions, income and expenditure and resident statistics. They sometimes include important dates and where the child stayed.

Tally Ho Youth Services – Community Friends Program, 1987-1989
The records include documents about the Community Friends Program – where participants were paired with an adult volunteer for the purpose of gaining friendship and guidance. The documents include: meeting minutes; reports; statistics; monthly assessments and one client file. Information includes the length of a child’s participation in the program and who they were paired with.

Other Records
The Heritage Service has established a protocol and working relationship with the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training in relation to the records from the school at Tally Ho, so there is a streamlined process for people requesting Tally Ho records.

Heritage Service staff are in ongoing discussion with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services about any Tally Ho records they may hold.

Fires at Tally Ho

It had been thought that a fire or fires may have been the reason why the records are incomplete. In 2014, Uniting Wesley conducted an investigation to explore the evidence for this belief. The researcher examined the records from Tally Ho held by Uniting Wesley, in which various documents made reference to fires in 1958, 1964 and 1965.

The 1958 fire occurred in the drying room of one of eight cottages. The report’s findings stated “There is insufficient evidence to draw a conclusion on whether records were lost…however any loss is presumed to be limited to records relating to the clients residing in the particular cottage at the time.”

In relation to the 1964 and 1965 fires, the report found that “records were unlikely to have been lost” due to the locations of the fires and that records were not listed amongst items destroyed.

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