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Victoria - Archival Collection

Child and Family Services Ballarat Records (c. 1865 - )

  • Sharon Guy, Heritage Worker, with Ballarat Orphanage Exhibition Board

    Sharon Guy, Heritage Worker, with Ballarat Orphanage Exhibition Board, 2008, courtesy of The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.

c. 1865

The collection at Child and Family Services Ballarat dates from 1865. It includes records of Ballarat District Orphan Asylum, Ballarat Orphanage, Ballarat Children's Homes, Ballarat Orphanage Boys' Hostel and Ballarat Children's Homes and Family Services. The records relate to children who were placed in these residences. The types of records include admission book registers, individual files (from approximately 1930's on), photographic record, short films, and other memorabilia.


Access Conditions

Care leavers (and their families) wanting to find information about their time in care, or access personal files can contact Child and Family Services Ballarat.


The collection includes:

  • Orphanage client files* (c.1930 - )
  • Foster care client files* (NOTE: foster care files date from 1994-current. Prior to that, records of former residents placed in foster care were with the government)
  • Annual reports (1865 - )
  • Marriage and birth certificates (1860 - 1900)
  • Scrap books of press cuttings (1930 - 1970) and digital copies of the cuttings
  • Architectural maps (c.1860s - )
  • Client photos (1920 - c. 1960)
  • Photographs of buildings, and digital copies of the photos (1900 - c.1980)
  • Admission books (1866 - 2000)
  • Application forms (1880 - 1940)
  • Honour Boards of Matrons of the Homes (1866 - 1972)
  • Honour Board of the "most honourable girls", with graffiti on the back - some girls who didn't get on the list graffitied their name (1925 - 1958)
  • Honour Board for boys (1925 - 1958)
  • Roll of Honour, Board, First and Second World Wars
  • Memorabilia e.g. trophies; videos
  • "They Need Your Help" - a film appeal to public (c.1960), depicting a day in the life of a little girl who is an orphan.

* Former residents are given the original copies of letters addressed to them, school reports, wages receipts, and other receipts of purchases, and Child and Family Services Ballarat may keep a copy for their record. The organisation is legally required to keep client files forever. Some former residents have added information to their client file as a way of completing the picture.

Ballarat Female Refuge records
In 2018, the Central Highlands Libraries (Ballarat) transferred records relating to Ballarat Female Refuge from its custody to Child and Family Services Ballarat. The records transferred to CAFS are:

  • Admission Book 1892-1921
  • Daily Occurrence Books 1901-1921

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Menu book which shows what was served at every meal (1959 - 1971)
  • Photos of children in the Home which were taken and donated by former staff and residents (1920 - c.1960)
  • Photos of children taken by professional photographers at the Home from 1970 onwards, in May and December of every year
  • Photos of children and the Home in the Annual Reports c.1914 onwards
  • Detailed handwritten superintendent reports of Arthur Kenny from 1889 - 1908 where he records if someone has died, if there's an epidemic, if they're doing work on the farm, etc. A volunteer has typed these out to make them easier to read
  • Plaque listing the names of the 26 children buried at the Ballarat Orphanage gravesite at the Ballarat New Cemetery (unveiled 5th February 2008).

In 1992, there was a flood on New Years Eve in the basement at Ballarat, and the photos and files in the bottom of the compactus were damaged.

Finding Aids

There are several databases, typed lists and other documentation which are used to search records by Heritage support staff. They include:

  • A photo database of building sand former residents which contains 4,000 photos
  • An "Orphanage database" of the original Admission books
  • A client files database, which documents where the client files are physically located, what formats contained in the files, the condition of the file, and the nationality of the child, i.e. Whether they are aboriginal
  • Registration Forms listed by a volunteer in Excel
  • Press cuttings were collected in scrap books, have been scanned and images are saved on hard drive.
  • Architectural Maps and other papers stored in map drawers, listed in Word documents by volunteers


Online Resources


Sharon Guy, Heritage Worker, with Ballarat Orphanage Exhibition Board
Sharon Guy, Heritage Worker, with Ballarat Orphanage Exhibition Board
The University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre


Sources used to compile this entry: Andrew Eales, 350 houses threatened, The Courier, Ballarat, 31 June 2002, Includes a reference to the flood of December 1992 in Ballarat..

Prepared by: Sharon Guy and Rachel Tropea