Kildonan Homes for Children (1881 – 2001)


  • Auspice: Presbyterian and Scots Church
  • Title or Name: Kildonan Homes for Children (1881 – 2001)
  • Children's Homes: 149 Victoria Street Hawthorn, 227 Elgar Road Box Hill South, 175 Kent Street, Richmond, 3121, 141 Highett Street, Richmond, 3121, 27 Clifton Street, Richmond,3121, 158 Nicholson Street, Fitzroy, 3065, 47 Napier Street, Fitzroy, 3065, 144 Easey Street, Collingwood, 3066, 32 Gore Street, Fitzroy, 3065, 149 Highett Street, Richmond, 3121
  • Family Group Homes:  20 Morshead Ave Syndal, 47 Napier Street Fitzroy, 141 Finch Street East Malvern (Glen Iris), 18 Elisa Street North Balwyn, 158 and 160 Nicholson Street (Abbotsford), 85 Main Street Blackburn (88?), 19 Kangerong Street Box Hill, 15 Wattle Valley Road Canterbury, 149 Victoria Road Hawthorn, 17 Lalwa Street Blackburn, 36 Moselle Street Nth Box Hill

Kildonan Homes for Children history in brief

In 1881, the minister and congregation of Scots Church Melbourne established the Kildonan Homes for Children to care for neglected inner-city children. The Victorian Neglected Children's Aid Society (1894–1920) helped placed these children with families in both the city and country.

In 1937, the Kildonan Homes transferred operations from North Melbourne to Elgar Road, Burwood.

In 1940, the home was accommodating up to 50 boys and girls aged from two to 11 years. At 11 years of age, boys were sent to Kilmany Park Farm Home for Boys (1923–78) aged between 10 and 16.

Kildonan Homes, Burwood operated a cottage system that included a school and a kindergarten. The cottages were larger than later family group homes, each housed up to 28 children who were supervised by rostered staff. In 1941, an additional block for 25 toddlers was completed.

By 1955 the homes housed up to 105 children. In 1958 Kildonan opened a family group home within the grounds, for up to eight children.

By the late 1950s, the shortcomings of large-scale institutional care had become apparent and in 1960 Kildonan began its family group home program.

In 1961, Kildonan sold the original Burwood site to fund the new family group home program. The same year, the Elgar Road site re-opened as the Allambie Reception Centre.

By 1962 Kildonan was operating family group homes in Blackburn, Box Hill, Syndal, North Balwyn and Surrey Hills.

In the 1960s, the Kildonan admission centre at Victoria Road, Hawthorn accepted children from three to 18 years on short-term placements, as well as children from Kildonan's family group homes whose placements had broken down.

In 1964, Kildonan started a day care program for school-age children who would otherwise be in institutional care.

In 1978, the Uniting Church restructured the management of family group homes and created a new Gippsland-based organisation, Kilmany Family Care, funded through the Uniting Church.

By 1980, Kilmany Family Care was operating four family group homes in East Gippsland, including a home staffed by Aboriginal house parents to care for Aboriginal children.

In 1979–80, Kildonan Homes residential care returned its focus to the Inner Urban Region and on medium- to long-term care rather than short-term and emergency placements.

By 1982, all of Kildonan's residential care work was focussed on the inner suburbs in particular Collingwood, Fitzroy and Richmond, and by 1985 moved its administrative headquarters to Collingwood.

During the 1990s, Kildonan Child and Family Services helped vulnerable children, youth and families.

In 1998, Kildonan Child and Family Services stopped providing family group home care to instead focus on residential care for adolescents.

From September 2001, the agency ceased all residential care activity.

In 2007 the organisation became Kildonan UnitingCare.

Enquiries regarding access to client files should be made to:

Kildonan UnitingCare
1 Gold Street
Collingwood Victoria 3066
Ph 9412 5700

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.


Please note that the content of this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history. See Find & ConnectExternal Link for more detail on the history of child welfare in Australia.


Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting, North Melbourne, November 2001.

List of records held by the department

For information relating to the central management of care leavers and wards of state, please consult the guide Central department wardship and out-of-home care records. These collections date back to the 1860s and include ward registers, index cards and ward files.

Voluntary children’s homes files (c.1930–c.1985)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0001)
Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0002)
Content: The files record interaction between the various voluntary homes and the government. This filing system was created in 1975, combining earlier correspondence and other records to create one system with VH prefixes.

The specific file(s) relating to Kildonan Homes are dated 1940–82 and include:

  • annual reports, 1969–82
  • press clippings, 1971–81
  • buildings/facilities, 1940–85
  • lists of wards and infant life protection children, holiday placements, 1946–81
  • inspection and other reports, 1940–67
  • application for and declaration of establishment as an approved children's home, Kildonan Home, 1955–56
  • application for and declaration of establishment as an approved children's home, Presbyterian Children's Aid Society, Kildonan Home Family Group Home at 36
  • Moselle Street Box Hill North, January to February 1966
  • correspondence and policy on various matters, including staffing, funding, transfer of wards, annual inspections, medical treatment of wards, adoptions and foster care, school uniforms, 1944–80
  • correspondence on funding, admissions, discharge, fostering and adoption, 1956–64
  • staffing including holiday hosts, 1955–81
  • applications for registration, 1955–56
  • minutes of a meeting between Kildonan and Department of Community Welfare Services regarding the future of its services, 1980
  • submission by the Education Officers from five children's homes, including Kildonan Homes for Children to the Education Department in response to the Green Paper, 1980
  • funding and establishment of Family Group Homes, 1979–81
  • returns from Kildonan Family Group Homes and teenage unit, with lists of children in residence in August 1981.

Staffing priorities committee, homes and hostels files (1976–83)

File; Temporary
Content: This collection comprised files documenting the recommendations for staffing positions for homes and hostels, correspondence between the Minister of Community Welfare Services and senior officers as well as funding information. The Staffing Priorities Committee made recommendations to the minister regarding priority of staffing positions required. Individual home and hostels are listed, accompanied by comprehensive material concerning each home, family group home or hostel. There are also minutes from the approved children's homes and hostels meetings from 1978–80.

The specific file relating to the Kildonan Homes dates from 1976–79.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels, correspondence, guidelines for operation and minutes of meetings (1976–80)

File; Unappraised
Content: The material includes ministerial correspondence, and Staffing Priority Committee minutes and list of members. The Staffing Priorities Committee made recommendations to the minister regarding priority of staffing positions required.

Reviewed 02 September 2016