St Vincent de Paul Children's Home was renamed from St Vincent de Paul Girls' Orphanage in 1962, and was run by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1966, the Home relocated from South Melbourne to Black Rock where children were housed in family group homes. In 1992, its name changed to St Vincent de Paul Child and Family Services.
The St Vincent de Paul Children's Home opened in the former St Vincent de Paul Girls' Orphanage building in South Melbourne, however it also had family group homes in Black Rock and Bentleigh. In 1966, all remaining children were moved from the South Melbourne building into family group homes, with Black Rock becoming the administrative centre.
Two more family group homes were built next to the centre in Black Rock to house incoming children, these accommodated up to 11 children, operating as assessment centres for new admissions. By 1965 there were ten family group homes around Black Rock and its surrounding suburbs. For the first time, lay staff cared for the children, rather than the Sisters.
According to Holding onto Hope in 1967, 85% of children in the Home were state wards, and the group homes were operated on a staff to child ratio of 1:7.
As part of the transition to being a children's Home, both boys and girls were now accepted. However, in the earlier years of the Home it was still the case that once boys reached a certain age they would be sent to the St Vincent de Paul Orphanage for Boys.
By the 1970s, the need for professionally trained staff to care for children was beginning to be recognised. Some Sisters undertook professional training, and professionally trained staff were employed, including social workers, education psychologists, and welfare officers.
Two small hostels were also established for girls in employment, generally aged over fifteen, to establish independent living skills or for young people on probation. Girls in the hostel commonly worked full time, however some girls were still in school and worked part time. Girls in the hostels were given more freedom, with only two girls to a room, and eight in total.
Children usually attended the local schools, but for those with gaps in their education, remedial classes were provided. In 1975, the Remedial and Therapeutic Centre was opened at the Black Rock site, and it was designed to assist those already in care, but also to prevent children going into care.
By the 1980s some of the outer suburban family group homes were sold, and at the request of the Government, new homes were purchased in Elwood and Albert Park, as these areas were considered to be under-resourced.
By 1985, only the Director remained a religious staff member. Originally, lay staff were employed as cottage parents, but it proved difficult to get people to do this, and instead rostered staff were employed in residential units.
It is known that members of the Stolen Generations were in St Vincent de Paul Children's Home.
In 1992 its name changed to St Vincent de Paul Child and Family Services
1854 - 1857 St Vincent de Paul Orphanage, Prahran
1857 - 1874 St Vincent de Paul Orphanage
1874 - 1962 St Vincent de Paul's Girls' Orphanage
1962 - 1992 St Vincent de Paul Children's Home
1992 - 1997 St Vincent de Paul Child and Family Services
1997 - MacKillop Family Services
Sources used to compile this entry: Barnard, Jill; Twigg, Karen, Holding on to Hope: a history of the founding agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2004.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill and Nicola Laurent
Created: 12 August 2009, Last modified: 8 February 2022