Convent of the Good Shepherd, Oakleigh (1883–1981)


  • Auspice:Catholic Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  • Name:Convent of the Good Shepherd, Oakleigh (1883 –81)
  • Other name:St Margaret's Youth Training Centre (1960–81) 


  • Auspice:Catholic Sisters of the Good Shepherd
  • Name:Convent of the Good Shepherd, Oakleigh (1883 –81)
  • Other name:St Margaret's Youth Training Centre (1960–81) 

Convent of the Good Shepherd history in brief

The Convent of the Good Shepherd, Oakleigh was established in 1883 as a reformatory school for adolescent girls because, the Convent of the Good Shepherd, Abbotsford was at capacity.

The convent received girls from about age 14 years, and women, and later took young girls from 11. Girls were trained for domestic service, sewing and laundry, and helped with the garden and dairy.

In April 1956, St Margaret's Juvenile School at Oakleigh was declared an approved juvenile school. In March 1960, the Villa Mareta section of the Convent was declared an approved children's home.

In 1958, there were 300 girls housed in the Good Shepherd schools, 18 of whom were wards of state. 

In 1960, the Good Shepherd Convents at Abbotsford and Oakleigh were designated as youth training centres to receive young offenders. These youth training centres were run by the Sisters and were the only institutions of their type in Victoria to receive 'voluntary placements'. 

In 1969, the Sisters appointed a social worker at Oakleigh, and established a flat for four girls in the community as a halfway house, as well as a transition unit to prepare residents for their return to the community, which expanded in the early 1970s focussing on education and occupational counselling. 

In 1974, The Sisters of the Good Shepherd closed their Abbotsford Youth Training Centre and consolidated their work with young people at St Margaret's, Oakleigh. 

The St Margaret's Youth Training Centre developed separate assessment and residential units and a diversified treatment program for girls 14 to 16 years, including state wards, probationers and private placements. Residents went to school on campus or in the community. St Margaret's also conducted an after-care program.

The youth training centre at Oakleigh was closed in 1981.

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 & Connect.


  • Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting, North Melbourne, November 2001.
  • Find & Connect, 26 April 2016, first published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, viewed 21 June 2016, <>

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.85)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0001)

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. 

Formerly known as St. Margaret’s Youth Training Centre. 

The specific file relating to St Margaret’s / Oakleigh Convent is dated from 1973–75 and includes:

File VH-034/78:

  • Good Shepherd Review booklet, Australia, New Zealand and Tahiti, 1973–74
  • proposed plan for further development of the Good Shepherds apostolate, plan to rent an emergency care house for teenagers, 1975
  • report and statistics, 1975.

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

File; Temporary

Content: This accession 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 1978–80.

The specific file relating to St Margaret’s Youth Training Centre dates from 1977–78.

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.

Family Welfare Division funding and accounts files (1971-77)

File; Temporary

Content:These accounts and funding files are for individual children’s homes and are used to make allocations. They contain a monthly census giving names and dates of birth to calculate per capita expenses. There are annual reports of homes, income statements, reports on conditions of homes as assessed on visits. The records are arranged in a broad chronological order.

    Reviewed 24 April 2019