Kildonan was a children's Home in Burwood run by the Presbyterian Church of Victoria from 1937. Formerly, Kildonan had operated a children's home in North Melbourne. Kildonan accommodated boys and girls, aged between 2 and 15. In 1961 the government-run Allambie Reception Centre opened on the site.
The Kildonan home in Elgar Road, Burwood was purchased in 1929 but did not receive any children until December 1937.
The maximum accommodation for children at Burwood was 100 (in two dormitories). This was roughly double the size of the original Kildonan home at North Melbourne.
The Home was built and conducted on a 'cottage system' and included a State school and a kindergarten. The 'cottages' were larger than later 'family group homes', and accommodated up to 28 children supervised by rostered staff. An additional block accommodating 25 toddlers was completed in 1941.
Kildonan received a government grant in February 1949 to receive child migrants. The Argus reported that Kildonan planned to build more cottage homes on land adjoining the home at Burwood, to house 125 'orphans' from the UK.
By 1955 the Home was caring for up to 105 children. In 1958 Kildonan opened a family group home within the Home's grounds. This provided care for up to eight children supervised by a cottage mother and father.
In January 1956, Kildonan was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954 (under the full name 'Presbyterian and Scots' Church Children's Aid Society [Kildonan Home]).
By the late 1950s Kildonan and the Presbyterian Church had recognised some of the drawbacks of large scale institutional care.
In around 1958 Kildonan opened its first family group home in property within the grounds of the Children's Home in Burwood. It housed up to eight children with a cottage father and mother.
In 1960 Kildonan began the development of a larger scale family group home program. Initially this was to consist of up to eight family group homes and accommodation units as well as a separate Admission Centre.
The Victorian government offered to buy the property in the early 1960s, and the new reception centre. Allambie opened in 1961 on the site in Burwood.
The proceeds of this sale funded Kildonan's new program of residential services. The children at Kildonan were moved out into family group homes in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. By 1962 Kildonan was operating family group homes in Blackburn, Box Hill, Syndal, North Balwyn and Surrey Hills.
In 2007, Kildonan Uniting Care became the custodian of records of the Kildonan home in Burwood.
In 2017, the building was part of the Burwood campus of Deakin University. In 2016, the City of Whitehorse added the 'Former Kildonan Children's Home' to its Heritage Overlay.
1890 - c. 1937 Kildonan, North Melbourne
1937 - c. 1961 Kildonan, Burwood
c. 1960 - c. 1993 Kildonan Homes for Children
c. 1993 - 2007 Kildonan Child and Family Services
2007 - 2016 Kildonan UnitingCare
2016 - Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited
Sources used to compile this entry: Churches care for migrant orphans, The Argus, 5 February 1949, 15 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22695737; 'Historical Details', Kildonan Uniting Care, 7 September 2007; Victoria Government Gazette Online Archive 1836-1997, State Library of Victoria, 2009, http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/; Robinson, Marjorie, Kildonan: one hundred years of caring 1881-1981, The Council of the Uniting Church Kildonan Homes for Children, Camberwell, 1981.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 20 February 2009, Last modified: 25 October 2018