Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society (1893 - )


  • Auspice:
  • Name: Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society (1893)
  • Other names: Victorian Aid Home for Children; Swinburne Lodge (1957); Family Focus (1988–93); Oz Child: Children Australia Inc. (1993–current)
  • Address: Vic Neglected Children’s Aid Society, Latrobe Street, Melbourne; BrightonVictorian Aid Home for Children, Parkville House (Ayr Cottage), Leonard StreetVictorian Aid Home for Children, Swinburne Lodge, Leonard StreetVictorian Aid Home for Children, Somers House, Beach Road, Black RockVictorian Aid Home for Children, Alan Marshall Centre for Disabled Children and Adolescents, 6 Seaview Crescent, Black RockVictorian Aid Home for Children - The Norman Craig Lodge (Hostel) for early adolescents, Black Rock

Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society history in brief

In 1893, Miss Selena Sutherland established The Victorian Neglected Children's Aid Society (VNCAS) to rescue destitute and neglected children in Melbourne. At the turn of the century, VNCAS opened receiving centres in Latrobe Street, Melbourne and in Brighton.

In 1902, VNCAS bought Parkville House (Ayr Cottage) as a non-denominational home providing longer-term care for children of both sexes.

By the late-1940s, inspectors were unhappy with the society’s buildings, the lack of play space and overcrowding. In the mid-1950s capacity had been reduced to about 43, including wards.

From the 1950s

In 1955 the home housed boys and girls aged four to 14 years, one of the few institutions in the state that would accommodate children requiring regular medical attention. In 1957 the home was renamed Swinburne Lodge and became the service delivery centre for VNCAS.

In late 1966, VNCAS sold Swinburne Lodge to Melbourne University and purchased Somers House in Beach Road, Black Rock.

From 1968, the new facility (known as Swinburne House) housed 34 'deprived children' from three to 18 years of age.

In 1973 VNCAS expanded into family group homes: the first in Bentleigh East, and a second in Parkdale (1974). Congregate care facilities at Black Rock were being phased out.

In 1979 the Society established another family group home in the Southern region for four children needing placement after St Joseph's Surrey Hills closed.

From the 1980s

In 1987, VNCAS established the Alan Marshall Centre for Disabled Children and Adolescents at 6 Seaview Crescent, Black Rock. The Norman Craig Lodge (Hostel) for early adolescents also operated from the Black Rock campus.

Swinburne House continued to play a role in the Society's child and family care program. By 1981 it was providing a statewide service for children needing placement, including physically and intellectually disabled children where other alternatives were not available. It also provided a back-up placement option for VNCAS’s foster care program.

In 1988, VNCAS became Family Focus. The agency expanded its provision of family support services, whilst maintaining foster care programs in Dandenong, Mornington and Moorabbin.

In 1993 Family Focus amalgamated with Family Action and the National Children's Bureau of Australia to form Oz Child: Children Australia 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 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.

Voluntary children's home (c.1930–c.1985)

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 with VH prefixes.

The specific files relating to the Victorian Children's Aid Society dates from 1938–1987 and includes:

  • inspectors’ reports, 1 Leonard Street, Parkville, 1938, 1943–1945, 1947–1949, 1953–1955, 1957, 1959–1961, 1963, 1965
  • application and approval for establishment of an approved children’s home, 1955
  • press clippings, 1960
  • correspondence wards in employment resident in a children’s home, 1963
  • school provisions, 1964
  • correspondence from department requesting placement of children from Allambie, 1964
  • inspection report of Swinburne House, 1965, 1966
  • property in Parkville sold, 225 Beach Road, Black Rock, purchased, 1966
  • funding correspondence, 1966
  • inspection report, 225 Beach Road, Black Rock, 1967, 1969
  • report on official opening of Swinburne House, 1968
  • application and approval for establishment of an approved children’s home, 225 Beach Road, Black Rock, 1968
  • correspondence regarding insurance cover for state wards, 1973
  • 8 Leonie Avenue, Bentleigh East, as a family group home, 1973
  • allegations, incidents and reports re treatment of a state ward, 1973
  • inspectors report visit to 8 Leonie Avenue, Bentleigh East, 1973
  • death of two wards in a traffic accident, 1973
  • visit report, 225 Beach Road, Black Rock, 1974
  • report on ward of state, 1974
  • reports on visits to Victorian Children’s Aid facilities, 1974
  • staff meeting report regarding difficulty of dealing with difficult children, 1974
  • proposal to purchase another family group home, 1974
  • submission to the committee of inquiry into child care services in Victoria, 1974
  • detailed social work report re staff, holiday hosts and wards, 1975
  • report on Swinburne House, 1975
  • assessment of cottage parent applicants, 1975
  • conversion funding towards purchase and development of the Alan Marshall Centre, 1981
  • correspondence regarding future of Swinburne House and early adolescent unit and funding of the society’s programs, 1983
  • annual report 1940, 1946, 1957, 1965, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1984–85
  • Bylaws, 1967
  • press clippings
  • report by committee of management, 1975
  • social worker statement, staffing situation, 1976
  • minutes, VCA annual meeting, 1977
  • list of staffing roles and functions, 1977–1983
  • financial statements, 1978, 1985
  • correspondence regarding need for full-time director, 1978
  • correspondence regarding funding, projects, grants, 1978–79, 1986
  • correspondence regarding purchase of 13 Winsome Street, Mentone, as a family group home, 1979
  • report on family group home program, 1980
  • minutes of meetings with the department regarding establishment of facility in southern region, future directions, 1980, 1981
  • proposed family group home, 18 New Street, Brighton, lists of wards for placement, c.1981
  • correspondence, staffing model for Family Group Homes, 1982
  • annual report, foster care, Westernport, 1982
  • application and correspondence for establishment as an approved children’s home, 16 New Street, Hampton, 1983
  • correspondence, movement and placement of multi-handicapped children at Swinburne House, 1983
  • capital maintenance funding, 1985
  • capital grant application for the Alan Marshall program for disabled children and adolescents, 1984
  • proposed Alan Marshall residential unit, 6 Seaview Crescent, Black Rock (not for wards of state), ministerial briefing, correspondence and funding applications, 1985
  • application for funding for rental of property in Main Street, Cheltenham, 1987

Staffing Priorities Committee homes and hostels files (1976–c.1983)

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 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 1978–1980.
The specific file relating to this home dates from 1977–1978.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels, correspondence, guidelines for operation and minutes of meetings (1976–1980)

File; Unappraised

Content: 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 25 August 2016