Sutherland Homes for Children history in brief
Selena Sutherland, child advocate
In the 1880s, Selena Sutherland, a pioneer in child rescue in Victoria, established the Neglected Children's Aid Society.
In 1885, the society rented premises for children needing temporary care.
In 1908, Selena Sutherland left the Victorian Society for Neglected Children and, together with colleagues, formed the Sutherland Committee to continue her work.
The committee rented premises in La Trobe Street and established a temporary receiving home for neglected children, awaiting new premises in Carlton.
Miss Sutherland died in 1909.
In 1912, the new Sutherland Homes for Neglected Children receiving home and offices were opened at 28 Drummond Street, Carlton.
Children from Drummond Street were also placed at Diamond Creek (the Country Home) where 40 acres of attractive grazing land in the Greensborough and Diamond Creek area had been donated by a benefactor interested in Miss Sutherland's work.
In 1929, a new congregate care facility was established on the Diamond Creek site. As with many of the large rural children's homes at the time, Sutherland Homes ran a dairy herd and piggery and maintained a large vegetable garden to reduce food costs.
The Diamond Creek Home was nondenominational and housed 56 boys and girls aged six to 14 years. Young people were either privately placed or wards referred by the Social Welfare Department.
Boys and girls (including siblings) slept in separate dormitories, and attended school.
By the late 1950s, congregate care was being phased out in favour of family group homes.
Drummond Street in Carlton continued to be used as a receiving and residential home, and later as an administration centre until it was sold in 1957.
In 1958, Sutherland Homes opened two new family group homes and a third small cottage at Diamond Creek.
By 1962, Sutherland Homes had constructed a further two cottages, and another two were planned for 1964, as well as a new 'composite block' containing a kitchen, community dining room for main meals, and a general assembly and recreation hall.
In the 1970s, the original main building became dormitory accommodation for 15 boys, and later a youth hostel providing halfway house for young people preparing to leave Sutherland for independent living.
Late 20th Century
In 1984, after reviewing its services, Sutherland began to develop a multiservice focus within a clearly defined locality, including a shopfront resource centre, the Diamond Creek Youth Hostel and the Community Accommodation and Support Scheme.
Sutherland also operated an emergency care unit in Preston called Amaroo.
In 1992 the organisation changed its name to Sutherland Child, Youth and Family Services, and included foster care within its service repertoire.
In 1994, Sutherland Child, Youth and Family Services merged with Berry Street Inc.
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 .
- Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting, North Melbourne, November 2001.
- Nancy Groll, 2000, The Sutherland Story: Sutherland, a Century of Caring for Children
- Berry Street Victoria, ISBN 0959563946, 9780959563948
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.1985)
File; Permanent VPRS Number 18069 / P0001 and 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 with VH prefixes.
The specific file(s) relating to Sutherland Homes are dated 1949–85 and include:
- inspectors reports, some identifying children and wards, 1949–67
- complaint against staff and subsequent reports on conditions and practices, 1965–66
- finance, facilities, staffing and other reports, 1949–79
- annual reports including historic photographs, 1962–83
- resident vacancies, numbers of residents and staff shortages, 1966–67
- school and family group home proposals for Aboriginal children, 1969–72
- press cutting regarding Meglin school cash crisis, 1972
- Melgin Special School and other schools attended, 1972–75
- capital grant application for laundry, 1973
- staffing, case planning and list of children. 1975
- correspondence regarding staffing, recruitment, establishment, and positions, 1976–78
- proposed hostel accommodation, 1976–78
- records identifying children including in reports and lists, 1976–78
- correspondence regarding funding and grants, 1979
- history of the home and discussion of its function, goals and policies, 1979
- outline of training course, Study of Referrals, 1980–81
- temporary closure of Diamond Creek Youth Hostel, 1985.
Staffing Priorities Committee homes and hostels files (1976-c.83)
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 positions required. Individual home 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 files relating to this home, Sutherland Homes for Children and Sutherland Homes for Children – Hostel Project, date from 1977–78.
Staffing Priorities Committee, Homes and Hostels, correspondence, guidelines for operation and minutes of meetings (1976-80)
File; Permanent (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.
Reviewed 24 April 2019