The St Vincent's Orphanage, in Nudgee, was operated by the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. It was established in 1867 when children were transferred from New Farm St Vincent's to the property at Nudgee. In 1935 the name was changed to St Vincent's Children's Home.
In the 1860s orphaned and homeless children were living in the General Hospital in George Street, Brisbane. The Sisters of Mercy took on the care of the Catholics among these children, accommodating them in Cairncross House and other rented cottages in New Farm.
The orphanage transferred from New Farm to Queens Road, "Nudgee by the Sea", on 11 November 1867. The first buildings were constructed of timber felled on the property. These were slab huts erected to house the men who were felling the timber on the property. The huts when vacated provided the first accommodation for the children and were the beginnings of what became commonly known as Nudgee Orphanage. Forty-seven children were admitted on the opening day, and during St Vincent's first century, 10,500 children found a home in the orphanage.
St Vincent's had its own herd of dairy cattle. In "The Dairy", butter for the children was made and the cream kept cool between meal times. All milk and cream consumed at the institution came from the St Vincent's herd. On 05 December 1905, a cyclone destroyed a number of St Vincent's buildings and unroofed others.
The 1999 report of the Commission of inquiry into abuse of children in Queensland institutions explains the reasoning behind the government's decision to provide funding to St Vincent's Orphanage in 1867. There had been an economic collapse in 1866, with the result that the government-run institution, the Diamantina Orphanage, was 'bursting at the seams with destitute children'. Providing funding to a denominational institution was a cheaper alternative to wholly financing another new institution (p.36).
c. 1860 - 1867 New Farm St Vincent's
1867 - 1935 St Vincent's Orphanage
1935 - 1971 St Vincent's Home for Children
Sources used to compile this entry: St Vincent's Home for Children: Centenary [brochure], Reflection on the First Century and the First Twenty-five years of the Second Century, Order of the Sisters of Mercy, 1992; Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Queensland. Department of Families, Youth and Community Care, Brisbane, 1999. p.36.; Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001.
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth
Created: 29 August 2013, Last modified: 13 March 2015