St Cuthbert's Home was established in 1948. It first accommodated boys aged 6 to 14 years, but by the 1960s also housed girls. The use of the name 'St Cuthbert's Children's Home' probably started around this time. From the late 1960s, St Cuthbert's established a number of family group homes. In 1977, St Cuthbert's was purchased by Glastonbury Children's Home, who established Glastonbury at Colac.
St Cuthbert's Home for Boys commenced operations in 1948, in a two-storey brick building overlooking Colac.
Although the Home was nominally a Church of England facility (Diocese of Ballarat), it was operated by a Board of Management comprising local citizens of Colac and district.
Boys slept in four upstairs dormitories accommodating seven to eight beds. In 1953 the Home's capacity was 36 boys, although actual placements fell well short of this through the 1950s.
It accommodated boys from age five through to school-leaving age, and accepted both wards of state and private admissions. The boys all attended local state schools.
St Cuthbert's was not extensively used by the Children's Welfare Department to place wards, partly because there were few boys in the care of the Department from the Western District of Victoria.
In April 1956, St Cuthbert's Home for Boys was declared an approved children's home under the Children's Welfare Act 1954.
However, numbers at the Home increased in the mid to late 1960s as state-wide pressure was placed on Victoria's residential child care system. During this time St Cuthbert's admission policy was changed to allow for the placement of girls. Presumably, the use of the name 'St Cuthbert's Children's Home' came into use around this time.
In 1969 St Cuthbert's established a cottage home on the edge of the property to house older boys. In 1970 another section of the Home was modified to become a family group home.
In 1972 St Cuthbert's applied for funding to convert its existing congregate care facilities to family group homes. Two new cottages were opened in 1975.
In the mid 1970s, government policy was being implemented to place children closer to their parents and families. In the past, many of the children at St Cuthbert's had come from outside the Colac area, and placements began to dry up as other 'care' options became available in other regions of the state.
In 1977, following investigation and review, St Cuthbert's Board and the Social Welfare Department concluded that St Cuthbert's was not financially viable and should be closed. The Home officially closed in December 1977.
St Cuthbert's Children's Home was purchased by the Geelong-based organisation, Glastonbury Children's Home, in 1977. They established the new organisation, Glastonbury at Colac.
At this time the Social Welfare Department asked Berry Street Child and Family Care to establish a family group home in Richmond to house children affected by the closure of St Cuthbert's Children's Home Colac. Five of the children who had been at the Home were placed into family group homes run by Glastonbury.
1948 - 1977 St Cuthbert's Home for Boys
1977 - 1984? Glastonbury at Colac
Sources used to compile this entry: Jaggs, Donella, Advancing This Good Work: a history of Glastonbury Child & Family Services, Jaggs, Catherine, Glastonbury Child and Family Services, Belmont, Victoria, 1988, 80 pp; James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0367.pdf; The information about the five clients who transitioned to Glastonbury care and their files was supplied by Nick Collins in an email dated 18 April 2011, see WAMI Project files, eScholarship Research Centre.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 20 February 2009, Last modified: 26 February 2015