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Victoria - Organisation

St Vincent de Paul Orphanage (1855 - 1967)

  • 'One of the dormitories', St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage

    'One of the dormitories', St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, courtesy of MacKillop Family Services.
    Details

From
1855
To
1967
Categories
Catholic, Home, Hostel and Orphanage
Alternative Names
  • St Vincent de Paul's Boys' Orphanage (Also known as)

The St Vincent de Paul Orphanage in Emerald Hill [South Melbourne] was established in 1855. The Orphanage was for boys aged between 9 and 16. Its name changed in 1967 to St Vincent de Paul Boys' Home.

Details

The St Vincent de Paul Orphanage in Emerald Hill was established in 1855. In 1861, the Sisters of Mercy took charge of St Vincent de Paul Orphanage. (The Sisters also managed the St Vincent de Paul Girls' Orphanage, built on an adjoining site in 1863 - 1867).

Management of the boys' orphanage was transferred again, to the Christian Brothers in 1874. The Christian Brothers ran the Orphanage until it closed in 1997.

The origins of the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage were a house in Prahran, where from 1854 Father Gerald Ward established a temporary orphanage. In 1855, the Catholic Church granted two acres of land , not far from the [Protestant] Melbourne Orphan Asylum in Emerald Hill (South Melbourne) and the foundation stone for the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage was laid on 8 October 1855.

Fr Ward was a driving force behind the establishment of St Vincent de Paul Orphanage. Earlier in 1854, Ward had established Victoria's first branch of the St Vincent de Paul Society, a lay charitable organisation.

Soon after, Fr Ward had become aware of the case of five Collingwood children whose parents had drunk themselves to death. The court had appointed a Presbyterian minister as guardian to the parentless children. But when it became apparent that they had been baptised as Catholics, Father Ward lost no time in successfully applying for guardianship, although the two youngest children, both girls, were eventually allowed by the Supreme Court to remain with a neighbour who had cared for them since their parents' deaths. The three eldest children, all boys, however, were placed with a 'respectable' Catholic woman in Prahran, until they were moved, along with four other children, to the new St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage early in 1857.

In 1861, the Sisters of Mercy took charge of St Vincent de Paul Orphanage. (The Sisters also managed the St Vincent de Paul Girls' Orphanage, built on an adjoining site in 1863 - 1867.)

Children were separated in different dormitories according to age, and the segregation of children into boys' and girls' institutions led to siblings being separated. Barnard writes of the institution's discouragement of parents visiting their children. St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage Annual Report for 1870 advertised that parents were able to visit the orphanage on only four Sundays throughout the year.

Management of the boys' orphanage was transferred again, to the Christian Brothers in 1874. The Christian Brothers ran the Orphanage until it closed in 1997.

In 1924, the Orphanage established a hostel for older boys, also located in South Melbourne.

The Orphanage opened a holiday camp at Shoreham in the late 1930s. It was requisitioned for use by the Australian military during World War Two.

Jenkinson says, 'The St Vincent's de Paul Boys' Home file reflects the very limited role the Children's Welfare Department had in relation to non-government children's homes before 1955. The first Departmental inspection report on the Children's Welfare Department's file is dated October 1935. The Inspector indicated that he "had made a note of any special features connected with the boys. Where no notes appear, everything is satisfactory and there is nothing to report". Presumably, these notes were placed on individual ward files as they do not appear in the Central Administration file of the time. From 1935 to 1955 there are only two documents on the file, both letters from St Vincent's on minor matters. The next inspection report was not filed until 1956.'

St Vincent's capacity at this time was 150 beds. The Home admitted Catholic boys aged from 9 to 16 years old with accommodation for 150 children. In 1955 over half were Wards of the State. The Orphanage had a small number of larger dormitories with approximately 20 to 40 beds in each. Furniture consisted of an iron bed, a dresser for each boy and a chair for older boys.

In January 1956, St Vincent de Paul's Boys' Orphanage was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954.

While impressive from the outside, the Orphanage was in need of modernising and there was no, possibility of developing a cottage home facility on the site'.

Its name changed in 1967 to St Vincent de Paul Boys' Home, which came under the control of MacKillop Family Services in 1997.

In 1997, records of the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers were transferred to MacKillop Family Services. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by these Orders. 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.

Location

1855 - 1967
Location - St Vincent de Paul Orphanage was located in Cecil Street, South Melbourne (formerly Emerald Hill). Location: South Melbourne

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
  • Dawson, Herbert Henry, Smoky Dawson: a life, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1985. Details
  • Grogan, Robert, From green to red and white: a chronicle of the Parish of St Peter and Paul's from its origins in Emerald Hill to the present day in South Melbourne., Catholic Parish of Sts Peter and Paul, Cygnet Productions, 2009. 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

  • Turner, Laurence, 'Victoria's Unwanted Children - 6: Willing Hearts Handicapped by Lack of Cash', The Herald, 31 October 1952, p. 5. Details

Online Resources

Photos

'One of the dormitories', St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage
Title
'One of the dormitories', St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage
Type
Image
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

Former St. Vincent de Paul Boys' Orphanage
Title
Former St. Vincent de Paul Boys' Orphanage
Type
Image
Date
1857

Details

St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, Emerald Hill
Title
St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, Emerald Hill
Type
Image
Date
1862
Source
State Library of Victoria

Details

Clipping from 1920 Annual Report, St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage
Title
Clipping from 1920 Annual Report, St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage
Type
Image
Date
c. 1920
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

St Vincent de Paul's Boys, Roll Call, 1930
Title
St Vincent de Paul's Boys, Roll Call, 1930
Type
Image
Date
1930
Source
MacKillop Family Services

Details

St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, building c.1945
Title
St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, building c.1945
Type
Image
Date
c. 1945
Source
MacKillop Family Services

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; Victoria Government Gazette Online Archive 1836-1997, State Library of Victoria, 2009, http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/; 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; Barnard, Jill, '"A Secure Safeguard of the Children's Morals": Catholic Child Welfare in Nineteenth-Century Victoria', in Provenance, September 2005, https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/provenance-journal/provenance-2005/secure-safeguard-childrens-morals; Heritage Victoria, Former St Vincent de Paul Boys' Orphanage: Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) Number H2170, 20 December 2011, http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/vhd/heritagevic#detail_places;27209; James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0367.pdf; Twigg, Karen, 'St Vincent de Paul Orphanage', in eMelbourne: the city past and present, Encyclopedia of Melbourne online, The University of Melbourne, 2008, http://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM01317b.htm.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill