St Anthony’s Home (1921–97)


  • Auspice: Catholic Church, Sisters of St Joseph, MacKillop Family Services (1997–current)
  • Name: St Anthony’s Children’s Home (1921–43)
  • Other names: St Anthony’s Home (1943–76), St Anthony’s Welfare (Family) Services (1976–97)
  • Address: 43 Wellington Street, Kew, 118 Commercial Road, Footscray

St Anthony’s Home history in brief

In 1921–22, the Catholic Sisters of St Joseph established St Anthony's at Kew to cope with the overflow of toddlers (boys and girls) from the Order's 'foundling home' in Broadmeadows.

In 1942, St Anthony's had 140 children, 57 of whom were wards. The home had its own nursery school, kindergarten and primary school.

In 1943, the home decided to admit only boys aged three to six years.

In 1958, St Anthony's bought the house next door and established a family group home for eight boys.

In the 1960s, the home again changed its admission policy to admit female siblings of boys at the home. They also extended the age range to allow boys to stay until they were 10 years old.

By the late 1960s, the home’s capacity was around 70 children: one group of eight lived in the family group home, while the others lived in groups of 15 to 18 children in the main complex.

In 1972, the Sisters of St Joseph introduced professional social workers, and the order considered their childcare services ( including St Anthony's, St Joseph's Broadmeadows and St Joseph's Surrey Hills) as a single organisation.

By 1976, the Sisters of St Joseph's were providing:

  • childcare 'flats' where a sister could care for about eight boys and girls
  • family group homes where a married couple could care for four, five or six (usually siblings)
  • adoption and fostering of babies (in conjunction with Catholic Family Welfare) and foster care and occasional adoption of older children (in conjunction with the Social Welfare Department)
  • 24-hour emergency care of children in a 10-bed unit called Ten Ready Beds (in conjunction with the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau).

In 1976, the Order moved to offices in Commercial Road, Footscray to work towards preventing family breakdown in the western suburbs and provide quality residential care for children, if needed. St Anthony's four family group homes in the area provided residential care and married couples in their own homes provided a form of 'group foster care'.

In July 1997, St Anthony's became part of MacKillop Family Services.

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.

See Find & ConnectExternal Link for more detail on the history of child welfare in Australia.


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 registers, index cards and ward files.

Voluntary children’s homes files (c.1930–c.85)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0001)
Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0002)

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 of files numbered with a VH prefix.

The specific files relating St Anthony’s dates from 1941–55 and include:

File VH-029-2

  • inspectors reports, 1941, 1942, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972
  • list of wards of state, 1941, 1942, 1943, c.1949
  • list of wards and infant life protection children, c.1955
  • file notes regarding named wards, 1940, 1944, 1956
  • application for declaration as an approved children’s home, 43 Wellington Street, Kew, 1955
  • request for assistance to purchase 39 Wellington Street, Kew, to be used as a family group home, 1957
  • file note regarding cottage home at St Anthony’s, 1958
  • correspondence regarding poliomyelitis immunisation, 1959
  • consent of surgical and other medical operations, including for tonsillitis 1959, 1961
  • correspondence regarding holiday arrangements for wards, 1961, 1968
  • ages of children accepted at St Anthony’s, males and females, 1962
  • correspondence from Allambie regarding overcrowding and transferring children to St Anthony’s, 1964
  • list of wards with case information for special consideration, 1966
  • detailed report from children’s home section, 1966
  • draft plan for overall scheme for Josephite care in Victoria, 1972
  • correspondence from Travencore clinic naming wards receiving treatment, 1971
  • correspondence regarding sisters of St Joseph planning their child care service, 1972.

File VH-029-1

  • correspondence regarding suitability of 11 Dalkeith Avenue, Tullamarine as a family group home, and application and approval for declaration as an approved children’s home, 1975
  • correspondence regarding needs of three named state wards, 1975
  • correspondence regarding phasing across St Anthony’s programs from institutional to family group home care, 1975
  • copy of correspondence regarding staff problems that have arisen in several children’s homes, 1975
  • correspondence regarding subsidy arrangements, 1976
  • proposal to care for wards in a worker’s home, correspondence regarding group fostering arrangements, salary payable to staff member caring for wards in her own home, 1975–76
  • discussions regarding feasibility of fostering arrangements with cottage parents 1976
  • application for declaration of 11 Dalkeith, Avenue, Tullamarine, as a family group home, as an approved children’s home 1976
  • report on community group placement with discussion of named children, 1976
  • request for subsidy for home at 118 Commercial Road, Footscray, that has relocated from Kew to Footscray (headquarters has moved there), 1976
  • Footscray property purchased, 1977
  • inspectors report (Footscray) five family group homes and homes providing foster care, 1977
  • correspondence regarding subsidies and relocation from Kew to Footscray, and move from congregate care (in Kew) to group home care in Footscray, 1977, 1978
  • meetings between the department and St Anthony’s regarding residential care in the west, 1978
  • discussion paper, community care, 1978
  • copies of correspondence, memoranda, reports, progress updates regarding leasing of family group homes, 1979–80
  • correspondence regarding subsidies for social worker salaries, 1980
  • report regarding staffing allocation and funding, 1980–81
  • correspondence regarding care arrangements for four named children, 1982, 1983
  • request for subsidy to purchase property 1 Winfield Street, Footscray, 1983
  • proposal to buy a second hand caravan to extent 11 Dalkeith Avenue, Tullamarine, 1983
  • declaration of several establishments as approved children’s homes, 1983:
    o 18 Leonard Crescent, Ascot Vale
    o 45 Hedderwick Street, Essendon;
    o 5 Milverton Street, Moonee Ponds
  • correspondence regarding cuts in government funding, 1983
  • budget and staff establishment, 1984
  • sale of 11 Dalkeith Avenue, Tullamarine and government equity in the property, 1984
  • capital maintenance subsidies including renovations to western suburbs regional centre, 1985
  • request for funding to extend home at 45 Hedderwick Street, Essendon, 1985

File VH-029:

  • St Anthony’s literature (various items) including copies of community-based programs, 1979
  • progress report, 1983
  • Community Group Care Projects information, 1984
  • annual report, 1984,
  • evaluation of St Anthony’s Footscray Community Group Care projects, 1984
  • examples of brochures, c.1984.

Staffing Priorities Committee homes and hostels files (1976–c.83)

Files; Temporary

Content: 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 homes and hostels are listed accompanied by comprehensive material concerning each children’s 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 Anthony’s dates from 1971–75.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels, correspondence, guidelines for operation and minutes of meetings (1976–80)

File; Unappraised

Content: 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: Accounts and funding files for individual children’s homes that 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.

The specific file relating to St Anthony’s, dates from 1971–75.

Reviewed 01 September 2016