The Arms of Jesus Babies' Home, East Melbourne, was established in 1925 by the Mission of St James and St John. It housed babies up to the age of two. In 1933, the Babies Home was sold and the Freemason's Hospital was erected on the site. The Mission purchased property in Balwyn, where the new St Gabriel's Babies' Home was established in 1935.
The Arms of Jesus Babies' Home, at 180 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, was the first babies' home operated by the Mission of St James and St John.
Before it opened in 1925, there was no Home operated by the Church of England for infants under the age of two.
The official capacity of Arms of Jesus was 30 babies, but overcrowding soon made extensions necessary, with a new wing being opened in 1926.
The Chief Secretary of Victoria approached the Mission in 1930, to request that a number of 'Church of England' infants currently being 'boarded out' through the Children's Welfare Department, be transferred to the Arms of Jesus and St Luke's Toddlers' Home. However the Mission was unable to accommodate these extra children. This example demonstrates how from the 1920s onwards, the Victorian government had to deal with a drastic shortage of suitable homes in which to board out state wards.
The Mission was aware that the buildings in East Melbourne were already overcrowded, and there was a view that babies were better off away from the inner city. The Mission also wanted to start providing mothercraft training through its babies' home and the site was unsuitable for this purpose. The site of Arms of Jesus was sold to the Freemasons in 1933, where the Freemason's Hospital was erected.
The Mission purchased property in Balwyn, where the new St Gabriel's Babies' Home was established in 1935. In December 1934 the 36 babies at Arms of Jesus Babies' Home were moved to the new St Gabriel's Babies' Home for Babies building in Balwyn, which officially opened the following February. At the opening of St Gabriel's, Archdeacon Lamble reflected that 535 babies had 'passed through our hands' at Arms of Jesus.
In 1997 the Mission of St James and St John became part of Anglicare Victoria. At this time, records of the Mission were transferred to Anglicare Victoria. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by the Mission. The custodian of these records is Anglicare Victoria.
Sources used to compile this entry: Cole, Dr Keith, Commissioned To Care: The Golden Jubilee History of The Mission of St. James and St. John 1919-1969, first edn, The Ruskin Press Pty Ltd, North Melbourne, Australia, 1969.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 17 February 2009, Last modified: 14 January 2019