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New South Wales - Organisation

Catholic Adoption Agency (1967 - 1993)

Adoption Agency, Catholic and Church Agency

The Catholic Adoption Agency was established in 1967 under the auspices of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. It was the adoption agency for the area covered by the Sydney Archdiocese of the Catholic Church. It was founded in response to the 1965 Adoption of Children Act, which regulated adoption and provided for the creation of new and permanent family relationships. After the Adoption Information Act 1990 there was a legal and practical shift in adoption work, from secrecy to openness. Centacare took over the auspice of the Catholic Adoption Agency and in 1993 it was renamed Centacare Adoption Services.


The Catholic Church centralised and coordinated the adoption of all Catholic children through this agency, which was staffed by trained social workers. Its first office was in Young Street in Sydney, and it later moved to West Street, Lewisham. St Anthony's Croydon, which had previously managed adoptions, relinquished its control over them to the central agency. Sister Kathleen Burford writes that in 1972, the central agency arranged 300 adoptions of babies born at St Anthony's.

The CatholicCare Sydney factsheet about Past Adoption Services states that the Adoption Information Act 1990 changed adoption practice from secrecy to openness and enabled people to formally access information about each other. Centacare Sydney took over the auspice of the Catholic Adoption Agency from St Vincent de Paul as Centacare, known since 2011 as CatholicCare, was regarded to be the Church agency with specialist expertise in providing services to children in Out of Home Care and to their families.


 1967 - 1993 Catholic Adoption Agency
       1993 - 2011 Centacare Adoption Services
             2011 - 2018 CatholicCare Adoption Services
                   2018 - Family Spirit

Related Archival Series

  • Adoption Files (1967 - )

    Adoption files, CatholicCare Adoption Services includes records generated by the Catholic Adoption Agency

Related Organisations



  • Burford, Sister Kath R.F.J., St Anthony's Family Care, St Anthony's Family Care, Croydon, 1989. Details

Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: CatholicCare Sydney Past Adoption Services Factsheet, CatholicCare Sydney, 2013c,; Sisters of St Joseph, 'Letter from Sisters of St Joseph regarding location of records [Correspondence, Item 6]', in Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices: Submissions received by the Committee, 25 August 2011,; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998,

Prepared by: Naomi Parry