St Augustine's Orphanage was established in Newtown in around 1855. First run by the Friendly Brothers, the Christian Brothers took over the management of the Orphanage in 1878. In 1939, the Orphanage moved to a new location on a larger farming property in Highton, Geelong.
The foundation stone for St Augustine's Orphanage in Geelong was laid in 1856. The Geelong Friendly Brothers' Society had established a temporary orphanage in 1855, in a temperance hotel in Malop Street, Geelong. St. Augustine's Orphanage was built opposite St. Augustine's school in August 1857. It was situated on the present site of St. Joseph's College. The original bluestone Orphanage building is now known as the Br. Tom Howe Creative Arts Building.
Five residents were admitted to the orphanage on 19 August 1857. Soon the institution was experiencing overcrowding. Barnard writes of how the growth of St Augustine's impacted on its residents:
New facilities did not necessarily improve the amount of space allotted to each child, for as soon as extra space was provided, more children arrived to fill it. A new wing added to St Augustine's Orphanage in the 1860s included a dining-room on the ground floor, while the upper storey was entirely taken up by a dormitory 'sixty feet by twenty-five feet' (18 metres x 7.5 metres). Thirty beds were arranged around the walls of this dormitory, with thirty 'block tin hand basins' occupying the centre of the room.
The Sisters of Mercy arrived to care for girls in 1859 until a separate girls' orphanage (Our Lady's Orphanage) was opened in 1862.
The Christian Brothers took over the management of St Augustine's Boy's Orphanage from the Friendly Brothers in 1878.
During the 1890s, Rev. Butler was the director of St Augustine's.
In 1899 St Augustine's agreed to accept Catholic wards of the state from the Department for Neglected Children, with the first 40 wards arriving at the orphanage in 1900.
In 1924, past and present St Augustine's boys erected a monument over the graves of boys who had died at the Orphanage.
Farming and gardening were an important activity at St Augustine's in Newtown, providing training opportunities for the boys as well as producing food for the orphanage's consumption and sale. In 1888, needing more land, St Augustine's began to rent farm land near the orphanage. In 1900 a 53 acre farming property between the Barwon river and Fyan's Street, Newtown, was purchased. The farm was used for the cultivation of vegetables, hay, and, from 1910, millet for the manufacture of brooms, as well as the rearing of dairy cattle, horses, poultry and pigs.
The Newtown property was sold in 1931 to fund the purchase of a larger property on South Valley Road, Highton. Construction began on the new St Augustine's Orphanage on this site in 1936, and in January 1939 the first boys were moved into the new buildings. From this time (until another name change in 1966) it was known as St Augustine's Orphanage.
In 1997, records of the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers were transferred to MacKillop Family Services. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by these Orders. While custodianship of the records about people in 'care' became the responsibility of MacKillop Family Services at this point, it was formally agreed that the intellectual property in these records would not change hands.
c. 1855 - 1939 St Augustine's Boys' Orphanage
1939 - 1966 St Augustine's Orphanage
1966 - 1988 St Augustine's Boys' Home
1988 - 1997 St Augustine's Adolescent and Family Services
1997 - MacKillop Family Services
Sources used to compile this entry: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic organisations caring for children separated from their families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/A-Piece-of-the-Story-Directory-of-Catholic-Records-.pdf; Barnard, Jill; Twigg, Karen, Holding on to Hope: a history of the founding agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, 2004; Barnard, Jill, '"A Secure Safeguard of the Children's Morals": Catholic Child Welfare in Nineteenth-Century Victoria', in Provenance, September 2005, https://www.prov.vic.gov.au/explore-collection/provenance-journal/provenance-2005/secure-safeguard-childrens-morals; Our Heritage Buildings, 2020, https://www.sjc.vic.edu.au/our-community/the-sjc-story/our-heritage-buildings.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 17 February 2009, Last modified: 24 October 2018