The Family Group Home Program began in the Children's Welfare Department in 1956. At first, each of the Department's group homes accommodated eight children, under the care of a cottage mother (and often a cottage father too). By 1974 there were 40 Departmental homes around Victoria, housing 209 children. From the 1980s, the Department offered other models of residential 'care' services, in addition to family group homes.
The Children's Welfare Department's began in 1956 to offer family group home accommodation partly to relieve overcrowding at Turana, the sole reception centre (from 1955 to 1961) for children committed to State care.
In 1957, the annual report described the family group homes as 'an adjunct of Turana'. It also reflected the growing popularity of this model of 'care', which occurred at the same time as large-scale, 'congregate care' was being phased out.
The first family group homes established by the Department were manufactured by the 'Concrete House Project' of the Housing Commission in northern metropolitan Melbourne.
By 1958, there were four houses in Preston, and two houses in Heidelberg, Northcote and Coburg respectively. Each home was given a name (including Kanangra, Moonyah, Bunyarra, Lentara and Arunga).
Each house was under the care of a cottage mother, although seven of homes had a 'cottage father' as well. Within the Department, the family group homes were supervised by a trained social worker.
In 1960, the Department established another two family group homes, in the rural town of Ararat.
By 1974, the Department operated 40 family group homes around Victoria, housing 209 children. It also reported plans to establish another 11 homes by the end of 1974.
From the 1980s, the Department offered other models of residential 'care' services, in addition to family group homes.
Sources used to compile this entry: Children's Welfare Department and Reformatory Schools. Report of the Secretary and Inspector., Government Printer, Melbourne, 1924 - 1954. 1957, 1959, 1960.; 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Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0367.pdf; 'This publication includes the addresses of all the government-run family group homes in Victoria.', Guide to Out-of-Home Care Services 1940-2000 - Volume Two: Data Base, with Department of Human Services, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0277.pdf.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 20 November 2009, Last modified: 19 November 2014