The Morning Star Boys' Home in Mount Eliza (Mornington ) was established in 1932, and run by the Franciscan Brothers. It was a training centre for young offending boys. Morning Star ceased operation in September 1975.
In 1932, the Archbishop of Melbourne received a bequest, part of the purpose of which was 'to found a farm to train delinquent or orphan boys to country life'. The legacy was given to the St Vincent de Paul Society of Victoria which used it to acquire a property on the Mornington Peninsula.
The Franciscan Friars entered into an agreement with the St Vincent de Paul Society, to provide educational, correctional and residential care services at Morning Star. The Society retained control and ownership of the property and its finances, and was responsible for its maintenance. Later, the Society returned the property to the Archdiocese, with which the Franciscans continued the original agreement.
Research conducted by the Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) in 2012 into the Victorian Police Gazettes indicated a high rate of absconding from Morning Star. Members of CLAN gave evidence to the Victorian Inquiry into handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations in December 2012. Leonie Sheedy, presenting the findings of the research into absconding, said: 'Thousands of children absconded from homes as their only way of getting away from abusers.' In February 2013, the Inquiry heard allegations of widespread abuse of children at Morning Star.
The closure of Morning Star in 1975 placed further strain on government-run services for youth, particularly at Turana and Malmsbury.
In 2002, the former dormitory wing became part of a boutique 'country house' hotel.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic organisations caring for children separated from their families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, https://cssa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Piece-of-the-Story.pdf; Victorian Inquiry into Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations, Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), Care Leavers Australia Network, 2012; Merritt, D.R., Child Care Staffs in Institutions: report on survey undertaken for the Children's Welfare Advisory Council to determine the need for courses of training, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1957; Morning Star Estate, Morning Star Estate, Mt Eliza, https://web.archive.org/web/20210309164548/http://www.morningstarestate.com.au/; Rintoul, Stuart, Priest blasts church's response to child abuse, The Australian, 16 February 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/priest-blasts-churchs-response-to-child-abuse/story-e6frg6nf-1226579175831.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 18 June 2009, Last modified: 1 November 2018