The Darling Babies' Home was established by the Community of the Holy Name, led by Sister Esther (or Mother Esther) in 1927. It was run by the Mission to the Streets and Lanes. The Home accommodated babies and young children up to the age of 5. The Home was closed in 1967.
In 1927, the Mission to the Streets and Lanes launched an appeal to raise £10,000 to purchase and equip a new babies' home.
The proposed site for the new babies' home was a mansion called 'Yarrayne' in Malvern (near the Darling railway station). The Mission's Children's Home in Wilson Street, Brighton was overcrowded and unsuitable for babies and infants. The Anglican Church had received medical advice that the Brighton air was too 'keen for anaemic and ill-nourished infants' and that an inland location would be better.
If they could raise the money to buy the babies' home at Darling, the Sisters planned to run a hostel for young women at Brighton, the Argus reported on 22 March 1927. One donor to the appeal approved of this planned hostel for 'growing girls': 'It will enable the sisters to guide them that are so perilous in a great city, until they have gained experience, and can walk safely in the glory of their womanhood.'
On 31 March, the Church reported that it was still 1,000 pounds short of the target, but had been granted an extension of the option to purchase the Malvern property for another 14 days.
The Darling Babies' Home was successfully purchased and opened in 1927. It accommodated around 30 babies at a time. In the mid-1940s, an adjoining block of land was purchased, with plans to build a new complex. The new building was opened in 1951. The Mission continued its fund-raising efforts for the Darling Babies' Home.
The old 'Yarrayne' buildings were demolished in 1953, replaced by a new building, known as the Church of England Home for Little Children, opened by the Governor, Sir Dallas Brooks in May 1954.
Despite its modern facilities, the updated Darling Babies' Home only operated for around 13 more years. From the mid 1950s Victoria saw rapid changes in the provision of institutional care. The state government increasingly became more involved with child welfare, and the influence of organisations like the Community of the Holy Name diminished.
By 1967, Darling Babies' Home was being used as a temporary refuge for unmarried mothers and deserted wives and their children. It was later sold off. The sisters were encouraged to move into new activities, away from its focus on caring for children.
Sources used to compile this entry: Babies' Button Day, The Argus, 26 March 1927, 35 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3845849; Button Day Incident, The Argus, 26 March 1927, 35 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3845852; Proposed New Babies' Home, The Argus, 1 March 1927, 9 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3840795; Saving the Babies, The Argus, 1 March 1927, 10 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3840836; Saving the Babies, The Argus, 22 March 1927, 10 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3844920; Saving the Babies, The Argus, 31 March 1927, 10 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3846649; Jolliffe, Peter, 'Silcock, Emma Caroline (1858 - 1931)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Edition, Australian National University, 2006, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/silcock-emma-caroline-8427; Strahan, Lynne, Out of the Silence: a study of a religious community for women: the Community of the Holy Name, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1988; Swain, Shurlee, 'Mission to Streets and Lanes', in eMelbourne: the city past and present, Encyclopedia of Melbourne online, The University of Melbourne, 2008, http://www.emelbourne.net.au/biogs/EM00986b.htm.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 17 February 2009, Last modified: 25 October 2018