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Tasmania - Organisation

Catholic Family Welfare Bureau (1959 - 1977)

Adoption Agency, Catholic and Community Service Organisation

The Catholic Family Welfare Bureau opened in 1959. Its activities included contraception advice, marriage guidance, and adoption services. In 1977, it became Centacare Tasmania.


The Roman Catholic Archbishop, Sir Guildford Young, established the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau for two reasons. Firstly, he aimed to dissociate the Roman Catholic Church from scientific contraception, recently endorsed by the Tasmanian Marriage Guidance Council. Secondly, following the introduction of the Menzies government's 1959 'Matrimonial Causes Bill', which provided for marriage guidance, he wanted the Church to become involved in that work. In 1963, the Bureau was approved as a Marriage Guidance Agency and began offering counselling at the Family Court.

In 1961, the Catholic Private Adoption Agency was established under the auspices of the Bureau. It arranged adoptions of children under the 1920 Adoption of Children Act even though it did not make a formal provision for this. The 1968 Adoption of Children Act formalised the role of private agencies in organising adoptions. The Catholic Private Adoption Agency was (and remained) the only one of these 'approved agencies' in Tasmania.

As part of its adoption services, the Bureau managed Karadi, a hostel for single mothers in Launceston.

The Bureau assisted the Sisters of Charity with the admissions and assessments of children going into Aikenhead House (formally St Joseph's Orphanage) after 1958. In 1969, with the support of the Bureau, St Joseph's closed and St Joseph's Child Care Centre, which offered cottage care, opened in Taroona.

In 1970, the Bureau began assisting the Magdalen Home at Mount St Canice with admissions and assessments. Under the influence of the Bureau, the Home involved families in its re-education program. In 1972, the Good Shepherd Sisters received a grant from the State government to appoint a social worker who worked out of the Bureau. This reinforced the emphasis on family counselling and preventive supervision, leading to a fall in the number of teenage girls entering the Home. At the Sisters' request, the Bureau developed a training course for residential care workers. In 1975, TAFE took the course over and it became the Accredited Child Care Course.

In 1977, Managers of the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau in Sydney and Hobart decided that the name had become old fashioned and changed it to Centacare.

Prepared by: Caroline Evans