The Melbourne Orphanage was established in 1926. It was formerly the Melbourne Orphan Asylum. It was located in Brighton where it accommodated boys and girls aged between 3 and 16. By the 1950s, some children were housed in group homes in Glen Waverley. In 1965, it became the Melbourne Family Care Organisation.
The Melbourne Orphanage came into being in 1926. Formerly, the institution had been known as the Melbourne Orphan Asylum. It was situated at 'Windemere', in Butler Street, Brighton.
After World War Two, the Orphanage began to admit children from broken homes in addition to orphans. In 1954 a social worker was appointed - the first in a charitable children's home in Victoria.
In January 1956, the Melbourne Orphanage was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954.
The school on the site of the Melbourne Orphanage was the Brighton Beach State School (no 2048) and it educated children from the Orphanage and from the local community. The school's centenary history, published in 1978, referred to its "special character imparted by the presence of orphans. Friendships were formed, but the camaderie of the children at Windemere distinguished them."
A student at Brighton Beach in the late 1950s remembered his friendship with children from Melbourne Orphanage, who were allowed to come home with him to play as long as he had a note from his parents. Kids at the school played together in the orphanage gardens and in the "big drain".
He also recalled how, on Fridays, the Orphanage cooked fish and chips for their children, who happily swapped their meals for the "outsider" children's cut lunches.
Brighton Beach State School had access to the Orphanage's facilities. A student from the 1950s remembered his "Handwork" classes at the Orphanage:
We had to assemble before a gate that connected with the Melbourne Orphanage and then proceed to a big work-room. Handwork was a very relaxing and worthwhile subject (we made things like toothbrush holders, marionettes and masks) … Brighton Beach was somewhat special because it taught Handwork - few other schools had access to the facilities that the Orphanage offered.
In 1956, in view of overseas trends, a commitment was made to move out of the Orphanage in Brighton into family group homes. These were located in the Glen Waverly vicinity, with an administrative and counselling facility in Ferntree Gully Road.
The phasing in of Family Group homes began in 1959 and was completed in 1963 with 14 family group homes established. The Melbourne Orphanage building in Brighton was demolished.
A name change in 1965 to the Melbourne Family Care Organisation reflected this new direction.
c. 1845 - 1853 St James' Orphan Asylum and Visiting Society
1853 - 1926 Melbourne Orphan Asylum
1926 - 1965 Melbourne Orphanage
1965 - 1987 Melbourne Family Care Organisation
1987 - 1993 Family Action
c. 1987 - Windermere Child and Family Services
1993 - OzChild
Sources used to compile this entry: Brighton Beach Primary School no 2048: Centenary 1878-1978, 1978. pp.13-14.; Victoria Government Gazette Online Archive 1836-1997, State Library of Victoria, 2009, http://gazette.slv.vic.gov.au/; 'Submission number 130 and attachment', 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; 'Submission number 262', 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.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 1 May 2009, Last modified: 29 October 2018