Swinborn Lodge (1979–86)


  • Auspice: Melbourne City Mission
  • Name: Elizabeth Fry Retreat (1885–1944); Swinborn Lodge (1957–74); Swinborn Lodge (1974–79); Swinborn (1979–86)
  • Addresses: South Yarra 1957–74; 3 Canning Street, Carlton 1974–79

Swinborn history in brief

In 1885, Sarah Swinborn established the Elizabeth Fry Retreat in South Yarra as a non-denominational home for women post-release from prison or in need of physical or emotional care. In 1944, the Melbourne City Mission took over the Elizabeth Fry Retreat.

During the late 1950s, the Children's Welfare Department stopped referring girls to Elizabeth Fry Retreat, instead using its own new facility for girls with high needs – Winlaton in Nunawading. Melbourne City Mission changed the focus of Elizabeth Fry Retreat, renamed it Swinborn Lodge and focused its work on meeting the emerging needs of vulnerable young women in the 1950s and 1960s.

By the 1960s and early 1970s Swinborn Lodge was providing hostel accommodation and a community-based treatment program for teenage girls who were not able to live at home. Girls were referred by the Youth Welfare and Female Probation and Parole Divisions of the Social Welfare Department, by policewomen, the Children's Court and other agencies. The centre also provided emergency accommodation for girls who were not state wards.

In 1972, the Melbourne City Mission, which was now called the Community Welfare Foundation, proposed a new focus and new location for the hostel. The old central office in Carlton was modified and in 1974, opened the new Swinborn Lodge.

Swinborn Lodge then functioned as a 'specialist hostel' providing residential and support services for wards and probationers with complex needs. In 1979, the facility was re-named Swinborn.

By the early 1980s, Melbourne City Mission had reverted to its original name and introduced a supported community placement scheme. In 1986, financial concerns resulted in the closure of Swinborn's residential and community placement programs.

Some Swinborn staff and functions were transferred to the Melbourne City Mission’s new emergency accommodation and housing service, Stopover in Carlton.

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 Swinborn Lodge Hostel dates from 1977–1978.

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.

Reviewed 10 August 2016