Robin House (1962–76)


  • Auspice: Children's Protection Society (CPS)
  • Name: Robin House (1962–76)
  • Other Name: Alys Key House (1976–85)
  • Address: Robin House – 16 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy; Alys Key House - 30 Stradbroke Avenue, Heidelberg

Robin House history in brief

In 1896, the Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (VSPCC) was established as a voluntary independent organisation to 'protect and befriend children'.

The VSPCC was one of the few secular non-government agencies in the child welfare field.

In 1962, the VSPCC established an approved children's home, Robin House, at 16 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, which also housed VSPCC’s administrative and protective services.

The home was a small temporary care unit that provided residential care to 12 children between the ages of two and 14 years who were in need and awaiting adoption or placement.

In the late 1960s, the VSPCC sought another site for a similar operation in the Latrobe Valley, and established Swan House in Traralgon in 1968.

In 1971, the VSPCC changed its name to the Children's Protection Society (CPS), which operated the following emergency shelter Homes: Robin House in Fitzroy, Swan House in Traralgon, Currawong House in Hamilton and Alys Keys House in Heidelberg.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Society ran family support services under the name Alys Key Family Care.

CPS Officers (and the police) were the only people authorised under the Community Welfare Act 1970 to deal with child maltreatment cases.

CPS was funded by the Victorian government to investigate reports of child abuse across the metropolitan area. On 1 October 1985 this responsibility was handed back to the government.

The CPS withdrew from Alys Key House in December 1985 and the Victorian Government bought the facility to use as a short-term reception centre.

Client Records

Enquiries about access to Alys Key House records: Children’s Protection Society records from 1896 to 1985, including client case files, have been lodged with the State Library of Victoria. DHHS also holds CPS records from 1970 to 1985.

To access records from:

  • 1896 to 1969 – Permission to seek these records must be sought from CPS
  • 1970 to 1985 - Permission to seek these records must be sought from CPS and DHHS
  • 1986 onwards - Permission to seek these records must be sought from CPS

Requests should be made in writing to:

Privacy Officer
Children’s Protection Society
273 Settlement Road Victoria 3074
Phone: 9450 0900

The following information must be provided to process the request: Full name at the time of being a CPS client, date of birth, mother/father/carer’s name, address at the time (if known), photocopy of current driver’s licence and any further information that can assist with the request. In some cases, the information will only be released with counselling support.

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.

For a history of the Children's Protection Society and records relating to its child protection role, managing substantiated and unsubstantiated cases for Community Services Victoria between 1971 to 1985 (some case files were ‘active’ and updated until 1992), see the related guide titled Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (1896–1971) and Children's Protection Society (1971 to current).


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 .


  • Archival Services agency history files
  • Victorian Public Record Office Series VPRS18072 / P0001
  • 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.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.

The specific file(s) relating to Alys Key House date from 1975 to 1986 and include the following information:

  • correspondence between the Child Protection Society and the department, 1975–86
  • September and November 1976 reports by Kay Bodna: home to cater for 12 children from one to 14 years
  • returns as to the numbers of children and staffing positions
  • 10 January 1977 – home gazetted to have Melbourne-wide intake initially but to give preference to children from the north-eastern region
  • April 1983 – report of a fire.

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

File; Temporary

Content: This collection comprised 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 positions required. Individual home 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(s) relating to Alys Key House dates from 1977–80.

Note that this collection has had all permanent material removed and placed in 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