Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (1935–98)


  • Auspice: The Catholic Church
  • Name: Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (1935–98)
  • Other names: Catholic Social Service Bureau, Centacare Catholic Family Services (1998–2011), Centacare, CatholicCare (2011–present)


  • Auspice: The Catholic Church
  • Name: Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (1935–98)
  • Other names: Catholic Social Service Bureau, Centacare Catholic Family Services (1998–2011), Centacare, CatholicCare (2011–present)

Catholic Family Welfare Bureau history in brief

In 1935, the Catholic Church established the Catholic Social Service Bureau, known as such for the first 20 years of its operation. In 1966, it commenced operating an adoption service and became known as the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau.

In 1998, the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau changed its name to Centacare Catholic Family Services. The Department of Human Services funded Centacare’s Adoption and Permanent Care Service, which incorporated an information service about previous adoptions.

In 2011, Centacare became known as CatholicCare. The Department of Health and Human Services continues to fund CatholicCare as an approved Adoption Agency, and for permanent care. The Adoption Information Service continues to provide support and information about past adoptions.

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 administrative histories is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of the administrative histories.  For more information on the history of child welfare in Australia, see Find & Connect.


Find & Connect, history and information about Australian orphanages, children’s homes and other institutions,

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.1930–85)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0001 )

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 relating to the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau dates from 1971 to 1984 and includes:

File VH 112/79

  • annual reports 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74
  • joint project Ten Ready Beds with Sisters of St Joseph closed down: correspondence, report regarding Catholic Family Welfare Bureau looking for
  • development of temporary residential unit in Carlton. 1980, 1981
  • notes and minutes of meetings between the Department and Catholic Family Welfare Bureau regarding regional emergency accommodation programs, 1980
  • official proposal for establishment emergency residential unit in Carlton, and ministerial briefing notes, 1981, 1982
  • correspondence regarding capital funding for proposal to establish an emergency residential unit in Carlton, 1981
  • comprehensive description of services, 1982
  • proposed staffing structure and budget including for salaries, 1982
  • Canning Street emergency child care service, 1983
  • correspondence, submission to department for registration as an approved children’s home (481 Canning Street Carlton, jointly operated by City of Melbourne and Catholic Family Welfare Bureau), 1984

Note: The department does not hold the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau’s adoption files, but does have records from some of the other defunct adoption agencies.
For information on the department’s adoption records consult the guide Adoption and foster care applications, case files and adoptee enquiries.

Reviewed 01 September 2016