Ballarat Reception Centre (1961-64)


  • Auspice: Childrens' Welfare Department
  • Name: Warrawee Reception Centre (1964–82)
  • Other Names: Ballarat Reception Centre (1961–64)
  • Address: Victoria Street, Ballarat

Ballarat Reception Centre history in brief

In July 1961, under the Children’s Welfare Act 1958, the Victorian Government opened the Ballarat Reception Centre at 28 Victoria Street, Ballarat – previously the Ballarat Orphanage Boys Hostel.

In 1964, the Ballarat Reception Centre was renamed Warrawee, an Aboriginal word for ‘rest awhile’ or ‘come here’.

Warrawee Reception Centre accommodated 15 to 18 children aged up to 14 years who were awaiting court hearings on safe custody orders. Many children admitted by the court to the Family Welfare Division remained at Warrawee until they were placed elsewhere, and were returned to Warrawee if these placements broke down.

Children placed at the centre attended local schools and youth clubs while awaiting the outcome of assessments, family interventions, or placement in children’s homes.

Warrawee Reception Centre closed around 1989.

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. For more information on the history of child welfare in Australia, see Find & ConnectExternal Link .


  • Archival Services agency histories.
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 56, July 12 1961, p. 2411 [established Ballarat Reception Centre]
  • 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

Child information

Admissions, discharges, protection applications, care applications, reports and adoptions correspondence (c.196088)

Document; Permanent VPRS Number 17955 / P0001

Content: These records are forms that document the admission and discharge of children to Warrawee Reception centre and reports on children in care or temporary care, in the period 1960 to 1988. Admissions are recorded in pro forma forms maintained loosely in files. There is one file for each year for the period covered. Discharges are recorded in pro forma forms maintained loosely in files. There is one file for each year for the period covered. The forms provide personal information about the children and their families, including relevant dates.

While the records relate to children’s stays at Warrawee the collection register indicates that some files may include references to placements at other homes including Ballarat Orphanage, Alexandra Babies Home, Northcote Farm Bacchus Marsh and Providence Home Bacchus Marsh from as early as 1940.
Note: The temporary financial and staff time sheet records that were held in this collection have been destroyed.

Child case history files (196289)

File; Permanent VPRS Number 17953 / P0001

Content: A child case history file was created for each child. The exception to this arrangement was situations where there was more than one sibling from a family resident at Warrawee. In those situations, a family case file was created.

These child case history files include the following information: child’s name, date of birth, personal description, religion, and when admitted. The files document the circumstances of admission. They describe the family background, including the names and ages of parents and siblings. Where two or more children from the same family were admitted, a single family file was usually created for all of them.

The files are in the form of manila folders. Files were arranged alphabetically by child surname. The file covers include the name and date of birth of the child. In some cases the file covers include the date of admission, date of discharge, and ward number.

Summary cards have been included in the front of some files. Social workers and other staff added to the files with information about the child’s progress. The files include the following: ward number, case history, family and social history, case planning, assessment notes, behavioural notes, progress reports, education reports, medical and dental treatment details, health and medical history, psychiatric reports, record of visitors received, offences committed, Victoria Police statements, court documents and holiday hosting arrangements.

Photographs, Lisa Lodge and Warrawee (197090)

Photograph and photo-negative; Unappraised

Content: This collection comprises black and white and colour photographs in albums, of children residing at Warrawee Reception Centre and Lisa Lodge Girls Hostel in Ballarat.

The informal photographs and some negatives depict both children in residential care and respite care, at the residential facilities and on organised camps and day outings. The photographs Include portraits. No children are identified by name in the photos’ inscriptions. There are no dates on photographs.

  • Lisa Lodge: 23 loose album pages and one album
  • six albums: children participating in organised camps or outings
  • the topics for each album.

The list of subjects and activities are as follows, in album order:

  • bike riding, playing in snow
  • small aircraft, camping, bush walking
  • birthday party, children playing, swimming at the beach
  • portraits of young children
  • children with farm animals, riding motorbikes, swimming at the beach, Christmas celebrations
  • bush walking, rock climbing, swimming at the beach, swimming at the pool, camping, portraits – negatives
  • children swimming at the pool, portraits, children playing, swimming at the pool and water slides, Christmas, Beach Visit
  • Sovereign Hill excursion, birthday celebrations, picnics, portraits of children, children playing

Unit diaries (1970-89)

Volume; Temporary

Content: The term unit diary here refers to volumes variously labelled as unit diary, night book, unit night book, unit day book, and record book. They all served the purpose of recording events and activities in the units, noting behaviours of residents and recording notes to pass on information between staff shift changes.

Departmental administration

Departmental Children’s Homes Files (196179)

File; Permanent VPRS Number 18072 / P0001

Content: The files essentially record interaction between the various departmental homes and the department. This filing system was created in 1975 combining earlier correspondence and other records to create one system with DH prefixes.

The specific file(s) relating to this home date from 1961 to 1979 and they include information on:

  • establishment of the Ballarat Reception Centre
  • staffing administration
  • statistical returns of children
  • perational and child reports
  • child medical information
  • health inspection and hygiene reports
  • a 1977 review of residents.

Community Services Victoria (and predecessor departments) personnel files (c.1950s88)

File; Temporary

Content: This collection comprises the central employee filing system for the department.

These files chart each employee’s history including the following contents: employee's name, date commenced, positions held, leave details, position changes and promotions, salary increases, termination details. Some files include the employee's leave card as well as various employment history details. These records are arranged in alphabetical order by surname.

The files include staff working at the reception centres, training centres and children’s homes.

Reviewed 10 August 2016