The Melbourne City Mission Maternity Home opened in Brunswick in 1900. It housed pregnant mothers, babies and arranged some adoptions. From 1947 a Toddlers' Home called Hartnett House operated on the same site. In 1955, the Maternity Home and Toddlers' Home were amalgamated into one unit. It was renamed Hartnett House in 1958.
The Melbourne City Mission Maternity Home was founded in 1900 by Sister E. Hartnett. Until 1903, it was situated in rented premises in East Brunswick. It then moved to Albion Street, Brunswick, to a building formerly used by the Salvation Army as a rescue home (the Brunswick Girls' Home).
The Home in Albion Street functioned as a 'pre-maternity home' for pregnant mothers and was registered to care for babies. Sister Hartnett arranged the adoption of some of the children in the Home's care and supported other mothers to maintain their parenting role.
Due to the poor condition of the original buildings, a new maternity home was built on the Albion Street site in 1913. In 1935, rooms such as a nursery, kitchen and reading room were added.
In 1942 the Department noted that the Home accommodated 22 infants and some mothers, but only one State ward. At the next Departmental inspection (1949) the Home's staff were described as 'a floating population of training missionaries, kindergarten teachers and unmarried mothers who help with the work', (although there was always a mothercraft nurse on the staff). In 1949 there were eight State wards and 34 Infant Life Protection Infants in residence. By 1950 the Home staff consisted primarily of mission sisters, most of whom were mothercraft nurses, still assisted by the mothers of the children.
In 1947 a new 'Toddler's Home' was built adjoining the pre-maternity home and in 1950 a nursery was added. The separate components of the home were amalgamated into one unit in 1955 and the home was named Hartnett House in 1958.
In the late 1950s the dormitories were changed to cubicles to afford more privacy for expecting mothers.
1900 - c. 1955 Melbourne City Mission Maternity Home
c. 1955 - c. 1982 Hartnett House
Sources used to compile this entry: '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.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 12 June 2009, Last modified: 13 May 2013