Our History - OzChild

Our History

OzChild is considered to be the longest serving charity for children and families in Victoria.

From the visionary actions of our forebears, the OzChild family tree is one of many branches which have grown into the organisation we see today.

Staying true to one of our strategic goals of growing our reach, OzChild has spread its branches beyond Victoria and is now a national organisation, supporting and strengthening children, young people and families in Victoria, NSW, and the ACT.

The OzChild family tree will continue to grow and flourish as we strive to achieve our vision that all children and young people are safe, respected, nurtured and reach their full potential.


The St James’ Visiting Society was established in April 1845 by parishioners of Melbourne’s first Protestant Church, St James Old Cathedral, in King Street, Melbourne. In June a group of women parishioners established the St James’ Dorcas Society shelter for orphaned children.


St James’ Dorcas Society is renamed the St James Orphan Asylum and Visiting Society.


A decision is made to separate the provision of residential care from emergency support for families and the name Melbourne Orphan Asylum is adopted.


The Melbourne Orphan Asylum’s building in the city is deemed unsuitable and the children moved onto government land in Kew, where they live in tents. During this period, the new institution is being built on 10 acres of land in South Melbourne (Emerald Hill), granted to the Orphan Asylum by the Victorian Government.


The Melbourne Orphan Asylum opens in its new premises in South Melbourne.


The Melbourne Orphan Asylum moves from South Melbourne to Brighton.


Presbyterian Society for Neglected and Destitute Children is established by Scots Church with Selina Sutherland as supervisor.


Selina Sutherland leaves the Presbyterian Society for Neglected and Destitute Children and sets up the Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society, a non-denominational ‘child rescue’ organisation, dealing with hundreds of cases every year.


Presbyterian Society for Neglected and Destitute Children merges with the Scots’ Church Neglected Children’s Aid Society to form the Presbyterian and Scots’ Church Children’s Aid Society.


The word ‘Neglected’ is dropped from the Victorian Neglected Children’s Aid Society and the organisation is known as the Victorian Children’s Aid Society.


Melbourne Orphanage Asylum officially becomes known as the Melbourne Orphanage.


To reflect a shift away from institutional ‘care’ for children towards family group homes the Melbourne Orphanage becomes the Melbourne Family Care Organisation.

Victorian Children’s Aid Society establishes the Laigi Kal Kal Youth Training Centre in Trawalla for boys aged 17 to 21. The farm activities and other education and social programs are used to simulate community employment conditions that could provide positive, realistic experiences in the areas of skills training, education and employment. (In June 1993 it is closed and becomes an adult prison.)


The Child and Family Welfare Council of Australia is established as a national peak body.


Currawong House is established by the Children’s Protection Society in Hamilton, Victoria. It provides up to six weeks of emergency residential care for up to eight children, aged 15 and under.


Westernport Foster Care is established. In addition to voluntary and involuntary foster care, which is its primary service, the agency also offers respite care for children with disabilities such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy and developmental delays.

Read more about the history of Westernport Foster Care.


Victorian Children’s Aid Society establishes Bayside Foster Care.

Melbourne Family Care Organisation establishes Mallee Family Care in response to the needs of the communities of north-west Victoria and south west New South Wales. Once the agency is well established Melbourne Family Care Organisation makes it independent.


Melbourne Family Care establishes Upper Murray Family Care to care for children and families throughout north-east Victoria and the Upper Murray. It is supported for a number of years and then made independent.


Child and Family Welfare Council of Australia is incorporated as the Children’s Bureau of Australia.


Family Action is the new name given to the former Melbourne Family Care Organisation.

Family Action establishes Dandenong Valley Family Care (later renamed Windermere Child and Family Services) and ultimately it is made independent.


Children’s Bureau of Australia changes its name to National Children’s Bureau of Australia.


Westernport Foster Care merges with the Victorian Children’s Aid Society and Family Focus is formed.

Currawong House merges with Glenelg Foster Care, South Western Tenant Support Services and Warrnambool Community Legal Aid Service to form the South Western Community Care Association Inc.


Family Action, the National Children Bureau of Australia and Family Focus realise they share a rich history of innovation and service to children and their families, and a vision to improve the quality of care and life chances of children. They come together as OzChild, to work towards better futures for Australia’s children.


A new program Schools Learning Centre is launched at Dandenong.

OzChild establishes an education services sector providing non-core education services (audiology, speech pathology etc) in Shepparton and Dandenong.


Youth Opportunities program is launched in Tasmania.

Youth Legal Service established to do over the phone consultancy from OzChild’s South Melbourne Office.


Bayside FosterCare and Child Services Highett amalgamate to become Family and Children’s Services Moorabbin and FosterCare Westernport into Family and Children’s Services Dandenong.

OzChild forms an alliance with the Council of Intellectual Disability Agencies to ensure continuity of services for children with disabilities into adulthood.

The Interchange Program receives Australian Award for outstanding community service.

The Together Again program, the first of its kind in Victoria, commences to assist family reunification.

A joint project with AusAID is accepted to target a remote area in Bangladesh with a poultry raising project.


OzChild conducts major research into rural youth suicide.

Family support and counselling programs starts at the Mornington office.

South Western Community Care Association Inc changes its name to Community Connections Victoria Ltd.


OzChild Celebrates 150 years of operation since the founding of the Melbourne Orphan Asylum.

OzChild partners with Mission Australia (SA) to deliver the Bright Ideas resilience program in South Australia.


OzChild hosts the International Forum for Child Welfare in Melbourne.

The Maori and Pacific Islander Youth Re-engagement program delivering numeracy and literacy programs targeting 15 to 21-year-olds commences.

OzChild introduces programs into Victoria’s western districts, Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland.


OzChild amalgamates with Community Connections Victoria Ltd.


OzChild and disability services provider Wresacare merge.


OzChild commences delivery of evidence-based services, SafeCare and Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare (FFT-CW) in Victoria. They are the first programs of their type to be delivered in Australia.

OzChild joins a Victorian Government initiative Fostering Connections which brings together the state’s 25 foster care agencies to make it easier to find an appropriate foster care agency for each prospective carer.

OzChild establishes a presence in the ACT as part of the ACT Together consortium consisting of Barnardos Australia, Australian Childhood Foundation, Premier Youth Works and Relationships Australia. The agencies continue to work together to provide all services across the continuum of care.


Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) program begins in Victoria in collaboration with Anglicare Victoria.

OzChild establishes offices at Blacktown, Campbelltown and Edgeworth in NSW to deliver FFT-CW and Mulisystemic Therapy for Child Abuse and Neglect (MST-CAN) programs.

OzChild’s Reconciliation Action Plan is launched.

In an Australian first, OzChild is accredited as a provider of the SafeCare® program.