Gordon Institute


  • Auspice: Committee of Management
  • Title or Name: Gordon Institute (1886 – 1951)
  • Address: Bowen Street, Melbourne (1886 – 1951) ; Nepean Highway, Highett
  • Later Names: Gordon Homes for Boys (1951–69) ; Gordon Homes; Gordon Cottage Homes; Gordon Boys’ Cottages; The Gordon Homes for Boys and Girls (1969 – 2000); GordonCare for Children (2000–13) 

Gordon Institute history in brief

The Gordon Institute (from Gordon Institution) in Bowen Street, Melbourne was established in memory of General Charles George Gordon who died in Sudan in 1885.

The institution provided accommodation for boys who were referred by the police or the courts. Homes and farm employment in the country were found for the boys.

In 1908, the Gordon Institute building in Bowen Street housed the state's first Children's Court.

In 1942 the Bowen Street building was commandeered for war-related training of service personnel, and the boys were transferred to Burwood Boys Home until new premises could be found.

1950s and ‘60s

In February 1951, the boys were transferred from Burwood to a new site on the Nepean Highway at Highett, and the Gordon Institute for Boys, Highett commenced operation. There were two, 24-bed cottages, staff accommodation, a separate kitchen and dining room, an assembly hall, and a separate laundry and stores building.

Soon, the homes came to be known as the Gordon Boys Home or the Gordon Homes, and they provided longer-term care for boys aged between 5 and 14.

In 1962, an adjoining house in Rowans Road was bought and converted to a hostel for young people with jobs.

In late 1968, the home shifted into family group home care, starting with a pilot cottage, Neil House, on a property adjoining the main home. To keep siblings together, girls were admitted for the first time and, in 1969, the home became the Gordon Homes for Boys and Girls.

1970s and ‘80s

During the 1970s, the Gordon Homes housed older children for shorter periods following the introduction of foster care for wards and services to encourage family reunification.

In the 1970s and 1980s, new initiatives included a short-term, emergency facility in Langdon House and a family strengthening program the provided short-term accommodation for children as the agency worked with the parents. (This was later transferred to Southern Foster Care).

A second emergency facility for younger children was opened at Neil House in 1986. Gordon Homes also operated a reception group home in Dingley.

1990s onwards

During the 1990s, the Gordon Homes commenced an independent living skills program for adolescents and a residential family reunification program. In the late 1990s, two short-term emergency care units opened at Cranbourne to cater for needs in the Westernport region. Langdon House was re-opened as a contingency reception unit for sibling groups.

In 1999–2000, Gordon Homes established two children's contact services providing supervised handovers and contact for children of divorced parents in cases of disputed access.

In 2000, the organisation changed its name to GordonCare for Children. In 2012, GordonCare stopped providing residential care.

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.

Download Gordon Institute collection guide

Reviewed 10 August 2016