Catherine Booth Memorial Home (1915–76)


  • Auspice: Salvation Army
  • Title or Name: Catherine Booth Girls’ Home (1915–76) 
  • Alternative Names: Kew Girls' Home; Catherine Booth Memorial Home
  • Address: Glenroy (1897–15); 26 Sackville Street, Kew (1915–75)

Catherine Booth Memorial Home history in brief

This Salvation Army Home was originally established at Glenroy in 1897. In 1915, it was transferred to a large house in Kew. The Catherine Booth Memorial Home in Kew accommodated about 90 to 100 girls.

By the 1950s, capacity had been reduced to 60 girls between four and 16 years including a large number of state wards. During the mid-1950s, attempts were made to convert the large-scale dormitories to smaller unit accommodation.

In the 1960s, the home began accepting boys aged two to eight years in order to keep sibling groups together.

By 1969, the home's capacity had been reduced to 48 with a growing emphasis on providing small group care for girls in the four to 16-year age group.

During the 1970s, referrals from the Social Welfare Department were declining. After the 1972 closure of the Salvation Army's East Camberwell home and the transfer of children to Kew, 27 girls remained.

In the early 1970s, residential childcare trends were evolving and the Salvation Army began considering closure of the Catherine Booth Home for redevelopment to accommodate family group care. Since most of the children residing at Kew came from other areas of Melbourne, including the northern and western suburbs, they needed to be located closer to their local communities.

By 1975, the home’s residential operations were moved to Jacana in the north-western suburbs.

In 1976 the Catherine Booth Girls' Home in Kew closed.

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 .


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 to 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 Series 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 files relating to Catherine Booth Girls Home are in the Jacana Archival File. Jacana Child and Family Care Centre replaced Catherine Booth and was relocated from Kew to the north-western suburbs. The file is incorrectly attributed to Jacana but is dated 1944–1972, before Jacana started operations in 1976.

The file on Catherine Booth dates from 1944 to 1972 and includes:

  • inspectors’ annual reports, which provide numbers of wards and infant life protection children each year at the facility, 1944–68
  • application for declaration as approved children’s home, 1955
  • report of a visit from Rev. Stan Davey seeking permission for the Aborigines mission to take an interest in Aboriginal children in the homes. Department approves in principle but says arrangements will have to be made with the individual homes. Agreement to begin with East Kew and East Camberwell, 1956
  • departmental report on unsubstantiated allegations relating to staff, 1956–57
  • further allegations relating to staff substantiated by holiday hosts, 1964
  • correspondence and inspectors and other reports on staffing, conditions and children in residence at Catherine Booth House, East Kew, including wards of the state 1944–68
  • application for declaration as an Approved Children’s Home 1955
  • references to allegations of corporal punishment 1956 and 1964
  • new matron at Catherine Booth Memorial Home, after Camberwell home closes and matron moves to Kew, 1972
  • plans for Jacana unit (no date)
  • correspondence re proposed closure of Catherine Booth House and development of three self-contained units 1975.

There is also a document on Catherine Booth in the file on the Salvation Army Girls Home East Camberwell.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels files (1976-83)

File ; Temporary

Content: This collection comprises 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 homes 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 1978–1980.

The specific file relating to Catherine Booth Girls Home dates from 1976–78.

Note that these records have had all permanent material removed and placed into the collection listed below.

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

File ; Unappraised

Content: This collection contains the permanent material removed from the collection listed above. These records comprise 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 10 August 2016