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Victoria - Organisation

St Joseph's Foundling Hospital (1901 - 1975)

  • Nursery, with babies and nurses, St Joseph's Broadmeadows

    Nursery, with babies and nurses, St Joseph's Broadmeadows, 1962, courtesy of MacKillop Family Services.
    Details

From
May 1901
To
1975
Categories
Adoption Agency, Babies' Home, Care Provider, Catholic, Home and Maternity Home
Alternative Names
  • Broadmeadows Babies' Home (Also known as)
  • St Joseph's Babies' Home (Also known as)
  • St Joseph's Foundling Home (Also known as)

St Joseph's Foundling Hospital was established by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1901 at Broadmeadows. It was also known as the Broadmeadows Babies Home. It housed babies and children up to the age of three and a half, some older children and expectant mothers. The Hospital also trained mothercraft nurses. It closed in 1975 and the Sisters established a foster care service in Glenroy, called St Joseph's Babies' Home.

Details

St Joseph's Foundling Hospital was established by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1901 at Broadmeadows.

Abandoned babies and infanticide had long been problems in Victoria, and were the topic of much public discussion throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

Until the Catholic foundling home was founded in 1901, the Victorian Infant Asylum (founded in 1877) and the Neglected Children's Department were the only institutions to receive babies.

The Sisters of St Joseph opened the Foundling Hospital at the request of Archbishop Carr, in May 1901. The Archbishop set out the purpose of the new institution in a letter to the Age, stating that it was to assist 'erring but often innocent young women', and stressed that women with more than one 'illegitimate' child would only be admitted to the hospital in 'very exceptional cases'.

In the words of Barnard and Twigg, the aims of the Foundling Hospital were to '"save" children from a life of vice and poverty while allowing women to "hide" their shame and then get on with a respectable life'.

The Sisters of St Joseph selected the property known as 'Kerrsland' at Broadmeadows for the new hospital. In the early years, the Sisters struggled to operate the service with very limited funds.

Infant mortality rates in the first three years of the Hospital's operation were at 34%. 61% of these deaths were from 'summer diarrhoea', gastro-enteritis contracted from contaminated bottles. In February 1903, seven babies died within fifteen days. From 1904, the infant mortality rate at St Joseph's dropped, and was reported at being below the rate for Victoria as a whole by 1908.

The St Joseph's Foundling Hospital was home not only to illegitimate babies born at the institution. It had some children living there who were over the age of five, according to records from 1911, a year which saw forty-eight children placed in the home. Barnard and Twigg analysed the records from that year to demonstrate children's journeys after St Joseph's: at least 25% of these children returned to their families; 14% were placed in adoptive or foster homes; 6% went from Broadmeadows into Catholic orphanages.

During the years of World War One, an army training camp was established close to the Foundling Hospital.

By 1922, the Advocate reported that the Foundling Hospital was accommodating children as old as six or seven. St Anthony's Home for Little Children was opened that same year to cater for older children and relieve the overcrowding at Broadmeadows.

In 1931, the Children's Welfare Department asked the Sisters to erect extra accommodation for sixty wards of state, and for nurses to care for the children. In the same year St Joseph's also opened a mothercraft training school.

In 1940 a Children's Welfare Department inspector noted that St Joseph's was accommodating 130 mothers and 260 children, of whom 73 were wards and 17 were Infant Life Protection babies. On top of this, the Home ran a dairy herd of thirty cows, a piggery and a large poultry farm.

By 1956 Departmental inspectors noted that there were only six single mothers and 120 children in the home. Staff recruitment difficulties, the increasing use of foster homes and the fact that parents were being dissuaded from placing their children in institutions were cited as the causes of the downturn in numbers. As a consequence, two of the Home's nurseries were closed.

In September 1956, St Joseph's Foundling Hospital was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954.

The Home closed in 1975 and the Sisters subsequently established a foster care service in Glenroy, which was called St Joseph's Babies' Home.

In 1997, records of the Sisters of St Joseph were transferred to MacKillop Family Services. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by the Sisters of St Joseph. While custodianship of the records about people in 'care' became the responsibility of MacKillop Family Services at this point, it was formally agreed that the intellectual property in these records would not change hands.

In 2011, the Broadmeadows campus of Penola Catholic College is situated on the grounds of the original Babies Home.

Location

1901 - 1975
Location - St Joseph's Foundling Hospital was located in Gibson Street, Broadmeadows. Location: Broadmeadows

Timeline

 1901 - 1975 St Joseph's Foundling Hospital
       1975 - 1985 St Joseph's Babies' Home
             1985 - 1997 St Joseph's Babies' and Family Service
                   1997 - MacKillop Family Services

Run By

Related Archival Collections

Related Events

Related Glossary Terms

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Barnard, Jill; Twigg, Karen, Holding on to Hope: a history of the founding agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2004. Details
  • Davis, Donna with Amy Willesee, Sins of the mothers: a memoir of abandonment, love and redemption, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2006. Details
  • Flanagan, Maureen, Along the way, Lexington Avenue Press, Copacabana, NSW, 2002. Details
  • Murray, Suellen, John Murphy, Elizabeth Branigan, Jenny Malone, After the orphanage: life beyond the children's home, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2009. Details
  • Szablicki, Ryszard, Orphanage boy: through the eyes of innocence, New Holland Publishers (Australia), Frenchs Forest, NSW, 2007. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • 'Heat Wave Dries Up Foundling Home's Water Supply, So Babies Move Out', The Sun News-Pictorial, 22 December 1953, p. Centre. Details
  • 'Home Moves Its Babies', The Sun News-Pictorial, no. 22 December 1953, 1953, p. 1. Details
  • 'Babies' Home Assured - No Close Down', The Sun News-Pictorial, 23 November 1953, p. 13. Details
  • 'Orphanage cemeteries in Broadmeadows', The Age, 16 August 1996, p. B1. Details
  • 'Peace for the babies of Will Will Rook', The Age, 15 August 1996. Details

Online Resources

Photos

Broadmeadows nurseries, St Joseph's
Title
Broadmeadows nurseries, St Joseph's
Type
Image
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

Nursery, with babies and nurses, St Joseph's Broadmeadows
Title
Nursery, with babies and nurses, St Joseph's Broadmeadows
Type
Image
Date
1962
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

Toddlers' playground, St Joseph's Broadmeadows
Title
Toddlers' playground, St Joseph's Broadmeadows
Type
Image
Date
1962
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

Broadmeadows, St Joseph's Babies Home, 'Kerrsland'
Title
Broadmeadows, St Joseph's Babies Home, 'Kerrsland'
Type
Image
Date
1974
Creator
John T. Collins

Details

Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows [former site of St Joseph's Foundling Hospital]
Title
Penola Catholic College, Broadmeadows [former site of St Joseph's Foundling Hospital]
Type
Image
Date
c. 2011

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic organisations caring for children separated from their families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, http://www.cssa.org.au/storage/A%20Piece%20of%20the%20Story.pdf; 'Submission number 313', in Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices: submissions received by the Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions; Barnard, Jill; Twigg, Karen, Holding on to Hope: a history of the founding agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2004.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill