The New South Wales Protestant Federation Children's Home was situated in Garnet Street, Hurlstone Park, on the border of Dulwich Hill. It was founded in 1921 and, despite the title, was a girls' home that in the 1940s held up to 90 girls at a time. In 1979 it was taken over by Church of England Homes. It closed in 1980.
As Garnet Street forms the border of Hurlstone Park and Dulwich Hill, and between the local government areas of Canterbury and Marrickville, there is sometimes confusion about the address for the Protestant Federation Children's Home. As the Home is on the western side of Garnet Street, the official address is Hurlstone Park.
The Home, and the Protestant Federation, were established by John T. Ness, a real estate agent and Presbyterian organiser who later entered state Parliament. Ness wanted to create a home for girls from single families of Protestant faiths and stated in a fund-raising appeal for the Home in 1927:
Protestantism is too precious to be filched from the children of Australia. Protestants must more jealously care for the children who are unfortunate and need shelter and training.
The original building in Garnet Street was called Tinonoe and more than 800 girls passed through the home in its first two decades. The home was extensively renovated in the mid-1940s. The new home was officially opened by the Governor on 5 July 1947.
Girls attended Canterbury Public School and Canterbury Central Domestic Science School, and went to a different Protestant church every Sunday. Leoni Greig and Anne Maher, sisters who lived at the home from 1940 until the 1950s, believe the home provided a routine that was as close to ordinary home life as possible, largely due to the efforts of a Matron. Uniforms were part of life, as was cleaning, as the Home had no domestic staff, but the Matrons avoided institutional features like long tables, allowing girls to dine in groups of four.
The sisters remember that older girls could remain living at the Home if they wished, and were called 'Business Girls', as they worked and paid board. Some girls lived at the Home until they married.
In 1979 the Home's Board was facing financial difficulty so approached Church of England Homes to assist with relocating the children in its care, disposing of its assets and storing its records. Church of England Homes took over the management of the home for just under 12 months while this process took place. According to the Church of England Home's Care Newsletter of May 1980, a social worker was appointed in January 1980 to find new homes for 23 girls, aged 5-16 years.
Ex-residents of the NSW Protestant Federation Girls' Home [Children's Home] have been meeting since 1987. Members donated a superb collection of photographs from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s to the Canterbury City Library.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Fete at Dulwich Hill', 1931, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16818781; 'Children's Home Opening', 20 June 1947, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18031382; Lyons, Mark, 'Ness, John Thomas (1871-1947)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 1988, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ness-john-thomas-7819/text13571.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 3 March 2011, Last modified: 31 July 2020