The Waitara Foundling Home was established in 1898 by the Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney Congregation as a home for babies and for unmarried mothers, who were referred from hospitals throughout the eastern states of Australia. In 1928 the Waitara Foundling Home was renamed Our Lady of Mercy Home.
The Waitara Foundling Home was first established in an old cottage on Leek's Orchard. In 1902, a two-storey brick home for mothers and babies was built, providing accommodation for mothers and their babies from hospitals and private homes throughout the eastern states of Australia.
In 1921, Waitara Foundling Home was granted 5 shillings per week for every orphan in its care by the NSW Government. This allowance was extended to a range of private institutions that cared for children.
In 1925 a pre-school kindergarten was opened within the Home, for the children in residential care.
Whenever possible, mothers remain with their children until they were weaned.
The Waitara Foundling Home was renamed Our Lady of Mercy Home in 1928 in recognition of the fact that many of the children in the home were not orphaned.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Orphans', The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 February 1921, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article15959476; Looking Back: A foundling home at Waitara, Mercy Family Centre Annual Report, Mercy Family Centre, 1984, 4-8 pp; 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, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Email correspondence with Sister Miriam Grech, Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney Congregation, 17 October 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 8 March 2011, Last modified: 5 October 2016