Melbourne Orphanage, Middle Brighton

Melbourne Orphanage

Dendy Street

Middle Brighton



Provider: Committee of Management

Year Opened: 1853

Year Closed: 1926


For further information about this Home, please refer to: For the Record

Now Oz Child

After 20 years in South Melbourne the orphanage moved to Brighton in 1878 because of financial difficulties, new visions of care and a desire to raise the children in a healthier climate.

This institution was divided into five separate ‘cottages; with 30 children in each under the primary care of a house mother. The complex also included an administrative building, workshops and a detached hospital. A school was also built on site for the orphanage children. The school was also open to local children. The Brighton Beach Primary School remains today.

The new orphanage complex took only half the population of the previous institution because the other radical move was to ‘board out’ 150 children to foster parents and, in some instances, back to their widowed mothers. This effectively was a form of widows’ pension.

The system continued with modifications for some 80 years, including a name change to The Melbourne Orphanage in 1926.

After the second world war, the orphanage began to admit children from broken homes in addition to orphans. In 1954 a social worker was appointed – the first in a charitable children’s home in Victoria.

In 1956, in view of overseas trends, a commitment was made to move out of the orphanage in Brighton into family group homes. These were located in the Glen Waverley vicinity, with an administrative and counselling facility in Ferntree Gully Road.

The phasing in of Family Group homes began in 1959 and was completed in 1963 with 14 family group homes established.  The Melbourne Orphanage building was demolished.


Related News Articles 

5 February 1927, The Melbourne Orphanage (Australasian)

26 May 1947, Quarantined Orphanage at Brighton (Herald)

28 July 1953, Well-paid Jobs for Orphans (Age)


CLAN Homes – Orphanages Gallery

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CLAN Museum Gallery

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CLAN library books where this Home is mentioned include:

VIC 141

VIC 158