The Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo was established in 1905. It was also known as St Aidan's Orphanage, and was the only Good Shepherd Convent in Australia to care for boys. The section named 'St Aidan's' accommodated girls aged up to around 16 years, as well as boys aged up to around 11. 'Maryfields' housed girls and women aged from around 15 years. The Convent ceased to operate as a residential facility for children in 1981. A number of women with disabilities remained at the Convent until it closed in 1984.
Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo was established at the request of the Bishop to cater for the many homeless children in the diocese.
Heritage Victoria describes St Aidan's Orphanage as 'landmark buildings [that] dominated the surrounding countryside, giving a high visibility to the charitable works of the Catholic Church and making a compelling statement about its authority.'
In the early 1930s the Sisters received a grant of £7000 from the state government's Unemployment Relief Fund to build a two-storey building to the east of the original building at St Aidan's. This was a major project in the Bendigo area during the Depression. The new building was opened by the Premier in 1931.
In April 1956, 'St Aidan's Orphanage' was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954.
The Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo operated as a residential care facility for children until 1981. A number of women with disabilities remained in care at Bendigo Convent from 1977, until the sale of the Convent to Girton College in 1984.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'St Aidan's Orphanage [Victorian Heritage Register No H2057]', in Victorian Heritage Database, Heritage Council of Victoria, http://vhd.heritage.vic.gov.au/places/heritage/12952.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 17 March 2009, Last modified: 24 August 2017