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New South Wales - Organisation

Presbyterian Church of Australia (1803 - )

Care Provider, Church, Presbyterian and Protestant

The Presbyterian Church of Australia is a Protestant Christian church, with roots in Scotland. The Presbyterian Church formed a Social Services Department in the 1940s that ran aged care, hospital and court chaplaincies and children's homes such as St Andrew's Boys' Home in Manly. In 1977 when the Uniting Church was formed some of these children's homes were transferred to the new church, but the Presbyterian Social Services Department continued to run welfare and children's programmes.


The Australian Macquarie Dictionary defines Presbyterianism as;

Church government by presbyters, or elders who are equal in rank, consisting of ministers (teaching elders) and layman (ruling elders).

Congregations are under the jurisdiction of a Presbytery to which they belong in their district.

Presbyterianism is very strong in Scotland, and its development in Australia and New Zealand is linked to Scottish migrants.

Presbyterians arrived in New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788 but the first Presbyterian service delivered in New South Wales was in the Hawkesbury in 1803. Members of the Church were involved in city missions and work with children throughout the 19th and 20th century - Sir James Burns, the wealthy founder of Burnside Homes, was a Presbyterian.

In 1977 some members of the Presbyterian Church, and a number of organisations linked with it, joined the Uniting Church in Australia. Many welfare functions of the Presbyterian Church were transferred to the Uniting Church, including Burnside.

The Presbyterian Church congregation remains active. In 2001 the Presbyterian Church was the fourth largest in Australia.

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  • Burnside Presbyterian Homes for Children (1955 - 1978)

    The Presbyterian Church supported Burnside Presbyterian Homes for Children, and the land on which the homes stood was vested in the Church by the founder of the homes, Sir James Burns. However, the Presbyterian Church was not directly involved in the management of the homes.

    Date: 1955 - 1978

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Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: Broome, Richard, 'Dill Macky, William Marcus (1849-1913)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, Melbourne University Press, 1981,; Herbert, Harry (Rev), Address to Uniting Church Historical Society, UnitingCare NSW/ACT, n.d. [2011]; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998,

Prepared by: Naomi Parry