Four Flats Hostel was established in Power Street, Hawthorn in1977 by the Jesuit Social Services. This hostel provided accommodation for young, homeless offenders aged between 17 and 21 years who were released from Victoria's correctional institutions. The hostel closed towards the end of 1981. Four Flats moved to a non-residential centre in Collingwood.
Four Flats offered the only after-care program for this age group in Victoria. The Department of Social Welfare provided funding. Referrals came from the Youth Training Centres at Parkville, Langi Kal Kal and Malmsbury as well as from Pentridge.
The name 'Four Flats' was chosen because the old home had been divided into four separate flats. Two Jesuit priests occupied one flat. The other three were allocated for the residents, the first of which arrived from Malmsbury in January 1977.
According to the annual report of the Youth Parole Board in 1977, Four Flats was established 'to take trainees who would otherwise be paroled but who, if it were not for the project, would be deferred by the Board for lack of accommodation'.
The report described Four Flats:
… it is staffed by Fr Norden of the Society, and two fully qualified social workers, and is funded by the State. It must be borne clearly in mind that the type of parolee who is taken on at Four Flats is probably the most difficult. Either they have no homes to go to and probably never had and so are 'institutionalised' or their parents have totally rejected them …
It went on to say that the object was for Four Flats to provide 'some form of halfway house - some cushioning effect - between the security of an institution and the loneliness and insecurity of the outside world'.
The young people at Four Flats sometimes offered handyman services to local parishioners. Tragically, a resident of Four Flats murdered a woman in her own home in September 1977. Following his conviction in May 1978, there was media interest in the story and controversy about the service. The murdered woman's family attempted to have Four Flats closed, but the halfway house remained open, and received 'enormous support' from the Hawthorn community, according to a history of The Brosnan Centre (Norden, 2017).
Towards the end of 1981, Four Flats set up a new office in Cambridge Street, Collingwood, from which the organisation arranged accommodation for young people in nearby suburbs.
In 1983 it was renamed Four Flats Youth Services and in 1987 it was renamed the Brosnan Centre.
Sources used to compile this entry: Youth Parole Board. Report for the year ended 30 June 1977, Government Printer, 1978, https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/papers/govpub/VPARL1978-79No36.pdf; 'Four Flats Hostel (1977-81)', in Finding Records, Department of Health and Human Services, State of Queensland (Department of Families), https://www.findingrecords.dhhs.vic.gov.au/collectionresultspage/FourFlatsHostel. See the 'List of records held by the department' section for information about records relating to Four Flats Hostel.; Norden, Peter, The Brosnan Centre: from community service to social action, Norden Directions, 2017, http://www.nordendirections.com.au/BrosnanRevisedTextlastFinal%20(1).pdf.
Prepared by: Rosemary Francis
Created: 9 May 2013, Last modified: 3 January 2019