The Church of England Homes for Children (as they came to be known) were run by the Mission to the Streets and Lanes.
Sister Esther (or Mother Esther) of the Community of the Holy Name founded a Home for Neglected Children in Wilson Street, Brighton, in 1894. This Home accommodated babies and children until the Mission established a separate babies' home in Malvern (Darling Babies' Home) in 1927.
From 1927, the Homes at Brighton took in girls aged between 5 and 14 years. Older girls lived at the Girls' Hostel, located in an adjacent building. In 1957, the Hostel became known as St Faith's.
From the mid 1960s, the Homes were redeveloped as the Mission moved away from institutional models of care. The main house at Brighton was converted into 'family group home' units. In 1968, the Brighton Family Centre opened on the site, delivering preventive services and counselling to families. From this time, the institution became known as The Homes for Children and Family Counselling Service.
At the annual meeting of the Mission to the Streets and Lanes in 1897, it reported that the Neglected Children's Home in Brighton was now being run as a separate branch of the Mission.
The Home began in two terraced cottages in Wilson St Brighton, pending the construction of a suitable house further along the street. Sisters from the Community of the Holy Name moved into this new house in 1897, which also accommodated 40 children. At first, children attended a school on the premises of the Children's Homes. In later years, they attended local schools.
In 1916, the Mission bought the house next door to the Children's Home, which became a babies' home. Children under the age of 12 months did not live at Brighton, but were in foster homes, under the supervision of the Sisters. The Mission often spoke of its aim to establish a separate babies' home, away from the 'keen' air of Brighton, and in March 1927, it launched an appeal to 'Save the Babies'.
The Argus reported that the Church had taken an option until 31 March 1927 on a property near Darling railway station in Malvern ('Yarrayne'), which they proposed for the new babies' home. They needed to raise 10,000 pounds to purchase the property.
If a separate babies' home could be established at Malvern, the Children's Home at Brighton could be redeveloped to include a hostel for older girls. The idea of the hostel was linked to fears about girls being led astray during the years of adolescence. A hostel would 'enable the Sisters to guide them through the years that are so perilous in a great city, until they have gained experience and can walk safely in the glory of their womanhood', as one letter to the editor of the Argus argued.
Various activities took place in the month of March 1927 to raise funds for the proposed new babies' home in Malvern. On 25 March, there was a 'button day' to raise money, and the Argus on Saturday 26 March published photos of the helpers selling buttons. The Darling Babies' Home eventually opened later in 1927, freeing up space at Brighton for the planned hostel for young women, which was located in a building adjacent to the Children's Home.
In 1954, the Department of Child Welfare declared that the Brighton Hostel did not meet its standards. The Mission was no longer able to accept government subsidized placements at the Hostel, and from that time it only accommodated older girls, 'graduating' from the Children's Home. In late 1957, renovations to the complex at Brighton were completed - the Hostel became known as St Faith's. It was also known as the Church of England Girls' Hostel.
During the 1950s, the institution at Brighton was known as the Church of England Homes for Children. In December 1957, the Mission held Diamond Jubilee celebrations for the Community of the Holy Name's involvement at Brighton.
The annual report for 1958 paid tribute to 'Bluey', 'a wise patient "cocker" who sits at the front gate all day waiting for his friends to return home from school'.
From the mid-1960s, the Homes at Brighton underwent changes, to keep pace with developments in the delivery of institutional care in Victoria. In 1962-63, the Homes were renovated, with the residents moving into smaller four-bed dormitories. As the Homes made this transition, the Sisters from the Community of the Holy Name became less involved in the Mission to the Streets and Lanes' work with children, to the sadness of many members - work with children having been a core activity for the Community. Around 1973, the Sisters' work at the Homes ceased altogether.
The model of care at the Homes was moving towards scattered family group home units, with cottage parents. The main house at Brighton was converted into three self-contained flats in 1966. The annual report stated:
'The children can now feel that they have a home of their own to invite their friends to on special occasions; they do the shopping and cooking at weekends and lead a more normal family life.'
The new living arrangements made it possible for siblings to remain together at Brighton. At this time, the Homes also received some toddlers who had been at the Darling Babies' Home. These toddlers were moved into small 'family' groups at Brighton. When the Darling Babies' Home closed in 1967, nine young children were transferred to Brighton
The name of the Homes also changed in the late 1960s. Children could now say they lived at St Anne's, St Margaret's, St Elizabeth's or the St Faith's Flat, in Wilson Street, Brighton.
In 1968, the Mission established the Brighton Family Centre on the site, providing family counselling and preventive services. The service was now known as 'The Homes for Children and Family Counselling Service'.
25 October 2018
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/vic/E000100
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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