Hartnett House was established in around 1955 when Melbourne City Mission amalgamated its Maternity Home and its Toddlers' Home on Albion Street, Brunswick. The new institution was named Hartnett House in 1958. In 1973 Hartnett House stopped operating as a maternity home and ceased its adoption operations but continued as a children's home. Hartnett House ceased to offer long-term residential 'care' in around 1982.
In 1955, Melbourne City Mission amalgamated its Maternity Home and its Toddlers' Home located in Albion Street, Brunswick. The new institution was named Hartnett House in 1958 (after Sister Hartnett, who founded the Maternity Home in 1900).
The Department undertook regular inspections of Hartnett House from 1950 to the late 1960s. There were various assessments of the Home and although most were positive, concerns were expressed about the crowded state of the site. By the late 1960s the Home consisted of the original house to which many other buildings had been added. This made for a tightly packed complex on a small area providing a wide range of different programs.
In 1971/72 Hartnett House was providing the following services:
The Federal Government introduced the Supporting Parents Benefit in 1973 which enabled many young women to choose to keep their babies. In 1972/73 the Community Welfare Foundation (as the Mission was then known) noted a decline in the numbers of single mothers using the maternity home (a weekly average of only 9) and a decline in the number of finalised adoptions (down by 53 from 1971/72).
In 1974 the Department provided additional funding to Hartnett House due to the recent closures of the Methodist Babies' Home, The Haven, Alexandra Toddlers' Home and Overton Residential Nursery. These closures had resulted in insufficient outlets for pre-schoolers from Allambie where the numbers of such children had built up to serious proportions. However, the Community Welfare Foundation was considering whether it should continue running a congregate care children's home given current policy issues about the future place of such homes in Victoria.
In 1973 Hartnett House ceased its maternity home and adoption operations but continued as a children's home.
In 1975, Hartnett House established a Family Centre for Disadvantaged Families to focus on the needs of a group of selected local families. In the late 1970s, Hartnett House had become a multipurpose organisation focussing on the residential care of children, a registered day kindergarten, the family care centre and a registered day nursery. It also provided family support, and had organised key services into a 'child development and enrichment centre'. At this time the children's home was catering almost exclusively for wards of the State and it was reclassified as a Category 1 Children's Home. However, by late 1977 concern was being expressed by the Department that the Home's intake policy had changed to focus on the needs of the families attending the family centre, many of whom had children who needed some form of residential care but were not wards. Further, the Home would not take children over eight years old into its residential care program.
In 1982, Hartnett House was allocated 'conversion funding' to allow it to stay in long-term care. The funding required the closure of its long-term residential unit and the establishment of two family group homes in the north western suburbs. The Albion Street temporary care unit was transferred to a house in Brunswick in 1984.
During the mid-to-late 1980s Hartnett House continued to respond to the needs of the predominately migrant population in the Brunswick/Coburg area and by the mid 1990s, mainly due to changes in funding by the Government, the longer-term residential program and the Child and Family Development Unit were phased out. In their place the Mission established additional temporary care units and a long-term youth accommodation unit.
In 2009, the property which was formerly Hartnett House in Albion Street, Brunswick, was one of the bases for Melbourne City Mission's work in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Services provided out of the facility included a children's long day care centre, an Early Childhood Intervention Program, Child Care Links, Parent Support and other child, family and youth oriented programs.
1900 - c. 1955 Melbourne City Mission Maternity Home
c. 1935 - c. 1955 Melbourne City Mission Toddlers' Home
c. 1955 - c. 1982 Hartnett House
Sources used to compile this entry: James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0367.pdf.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 27 November 2009, Last modified: 5 November 2018