Harrison House Youth Hostel


  • Auspice: Uniting Church of Australia
  • Title or Name: Arthur Harrison Boys' Home (1960-77)
  • Predecessor to current: Harrison House Youth Hostel (1978–81) ; Harrison House Youth Services (1982–88) ; Harrison Youth Services (1989–93) ; Harrison Community Services (1994 – 2007) ; UnitingCare – Harrison (2008 – current)
  • Address: 50 Power Street, Hawthorn 3122 ; Harrison Street, Mitcham 3132

Harrison House Youth Hostel history in brief

In 1960, the West Hawthorn Presbyterian Church opened the Arthur Harrison Boys Home in Power Street, Hawthorn. This facility provided hostel-style residential care for up to nine young people, all wards of the state, or young people on probation from the courts, or on parole. The project was initially staffed by volunteers.

1978 saw a name change to Harrison House Youth Hostel and the employment of paid staff. At this time the hostel program was expanded to nine bed capacity. As well as longer term accommodation, one of the nine beds was kept for emergency or crisis accommodation. This also allowed the agency to accommodate a friend visiting who may have wished to stay overnight. Harrison House provided a halfway house - a place to improve living skills before moving to independent living.


During the early 1980s, Harrison House accommodated or supervised up to 20 young people at a time. In 1982, as a reflection of the wide range of service provided, the agency changed its name to Harrison House Youth Services.

A community support unit/program commenced in 1983–84.

By the mid-1980s, Harrison House Youth Services offered additional accommodation and community support services in the eastern suburbs to young people of both sexes.

In 1985, Harrison House Youth Services assisted a community group to establish Courtney Youth Services in North Melbourne, as a specialist youth hostel for girls. It was initially known as Hotham Hostel. (Courtney Youth Services became autonomous in 1988.)

In 1987, Harrison House Youth Services received William Buckland Foundation funding to establish a motorcycle repair and retail business, however this project was unsuccessful and closed soon after.

In 1987–88, Harrison House Youth Services closed its Power Street hostel and moved the operations to an existing facility in Mitcham. A new project called Harrison Industries commenced around the same year.A further name change to Harrison Youth Services occurred the following year as the agency moved its centre of operations to Blackburn in 1990.

During the late 1980s and through the 1990s Harrison Youth Services established a wide range of new programs and service strategies including:

  • family counselling (commenced 1989)
  • lead tenant accommodation (1989)
  • Conjara horticultural project (1990)
  • Box Hill family care unit (1990)
  • Greenock House emergency residential unit for people with an intellectual disability (1990)
  • a range of Home Accommodation for Kids in Need Housing Projects (1991)
  • outreach work with homeless young people (1991).


During the early 1990s the agency experienced some financial difficulties.

In 1992 the Synod of the Uniting Church rationalised services and programs, and commenced new ones, including:

  • a respite house providing an early intervention and family reconciliation program
  • the Compass Accommodation Program, responding to the needs of people in the 25 to 65 age group, jointly auspice with Canterbury Family Care
  • an intensive youth support service, focusing on children aged 14 to 16 years with high needs.

In 1992 Harrison Youth Services moved its administrative headquarters to Wantirna.

In 1994 the agency became Harrison Community Services reflecting a broadening of services delivered by the agency.

The new century

In 1999–2000, the agency withdrew from residential care provision following its publication of a strong critique of the 'care' system in 1999 (Stephen McGarry's In place of the good parent, published by Harrison Community Services).

In 2000, Harrison Community Services joined UnitingCare.

In July 2001, it merged with Genesis in Blackburn. The agency continues to provide homelessness and housing support, family support, and skill development for adolescents, families, and people with disabilities throughout eastern metropolitan Melbourne.

The agency is now known as UnitingCare Harrison. It continues to provide homelessness and housing support, family support and skill development for adolescents, families, and people with disabilities throughout eastern metropolitan melbourne.

Please note: Harrison Community Services does not hold any records relating to the Arthur Harrison Boys' Homes.

In the past, Harrison Community Services only retained records relating to statutory clients for a period of 7 years. However, all client files created after 2004 are kept indefinitely.

People seeking access to records held by UnitingCare Harrison should contact:

The Director
UnitingCare Harrison
PO Box 4503 Knox City
Wantirna South, Victoria 3152
Ph 03 9887 1055

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.

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 Harrison House dates from 1977-78.

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.

Accommodation and Support Section files, Inner Eastern Region (c.1979-c.97)

File ; Temporary

Content: This collection contains a variety of Accommodation and Support Services records created in the Inner Eastern Region office between approximately 1979 and 1997. The records document contact between the service and client individuals and organisations in the region.

The records vary from documenting the regional office’s relationships with organisations and the delivery of services to families and children.

The specific files relating to Harrison House are dated from 1988–96 and subjects include:

  • minutes, agenda and other papers of various meetings
  • copies of incident reports
  • statistics
  • reports and service reviews
  • position funding and service agreements.

Note that permanent material has been removed from this collection and added to the collection listed below.

Accommodation and Support Section files, Eastern Metropolitan Region (1986-95)

File ; Unappraised

Content: This collection contains permanent records removed from the collection listed above.

Subject matter includes:

  • policy and procedural information
  • meeting minutes and other papers
  • copies of incident reports
  • client files

The client files relate to children resident in government or voluntary homes in the region or who otherwise were in receipt of the services of the Accommodation and Support Services section.

There are three files that relate to Harrison House dated from 1988-92 containing an incident report dated 1990 and two client files (residents of Harrison House) 1989-92 respectively.

Reviewed 10 August 2016