Victorian Society for Crippled Children (1935–77)


  • Auspice: Victorian Society for Crippled Children
  • Other names: Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults

Victorian Society for Crippled Children history in brief

In 1935, the Victorian Society for Crippled Children (the Society) was founded as a social welfare body to provide support to children with disabilities. It supported pathways in and out of medical treatment, schooling, and employment. The Society operated with close ties to the Yooralla Hospital School and to the old Children’s Hospital in Carlton.

In the early years, the Society provided social work and counselling services to children in-home or in other institutions. Country services operated with the help of donated vehicles that were used to support medical treatment at local Base Hospitals, occupational therapy (which the Society helped pioneer throughout Victoria), and for education and employment.

After the Second World War, the Society began providing services to all people with disability, not just children, and was renamed the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults.

In the 1950s, the Society started establishing facilities such as hostels and craft centres. In the 1960s, the Society began offering pre-school services and sheltered workshops. In 1977, the Society merged with Yooralla to become the Yooralla Society of Victoria.

Residential hostels

Before 1950, the Society helped with people’s accommodation needs by referring individuals to other organisations such as the Red Cross Society, or by providing a small number of beds in a private hospital (as part of a solution trialled in 1949).

1950–60, the Society operated a hostel (Deva) at 10 Acland Street in St Kilda for long term patients, (including country children and school leavers entering the workforce), temporary residents visiting Melbourne for medical services, and respite use. It housed about 22 people.

In 1962, Deva was replaced by a purpose-built hostel called Angus Mitchell House at 61 Sutherland Street, Armadale for adults with long-term residential care needs. It operated until c.1999 (under Yooralla from 1977).

Respite and recreational facilities

In 1949, the Society bought land at Hoddle Street, Yarra Junction to provide a permanent campsite for a growing community of young, disabled campers. From about 1950, it was used and developed by the Victorian Disabled Youth Club. From about 1957 onwards the property included a holiday hostel. In 1958, it was named ‘Hilltops’ and was used by the Society (and later Yooralla) until 1988.

In 1975, the Society also opened a respite accommodation hostel for children (Alston Lodge) at Parkville. It became a Yooralla facility and was used until 1984.

Pre-school services

In 1957, the Society began providing pre-school services to children with disabilities.

In 1965 it began operating its own kindergarten, the Sir Edgar and Lady Coles Kindergarten in Burwood East (now Blackburn South).

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 .


  • Norris, Ada M. Dame, 1974 The society: being some account of the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults, Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults, South Melbourne,
  • Find and Connect

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 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 relating to Victorian Society for Crippled Children and Adults (VH-104-78) is dated 1972–1976 and includes:

  • enquiry to Family Welfare Division regarding a new residential unit to provide short term relief for mothers of children with disabilities, 1972
  • correspondence regarding services the association can offer for wards of state with disabilities, 1972
  • annual report 1972
  • minutes, Handicapped Persons Coordinating Committee 1972
  • correspondence including a site plan and requesting funding for a proposed residential boarding house for children, Stevenage, at 127 Manningham Street Parkville, 1976.

Reviewed 24 April 2019