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Heritage Display

Between 1854 and 1997 more than 100,000 children spent all or part of their childhood living in one of the orphanages established by MacKillop’s founding congregations. Our Heritage display offers a touching insight into their lives.

MacKillop’s Heritage and Information Display sits on the site of the former St Vincent de Paul's Boys' Orphanage in South Melbourne. The home was Victoria’s first Catholic orphanage and today it is one of Australia's oldest remaining orphanage buildings.

Opened in 2013, the display features an extensive collection of artefacts and photographs gathered over 150 years from the eight homes once run by our three founding congregations – the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of St Joseph. It offers a small glimpse into the lives of the more than 100,000 children who between 1854 and 1997 spent all or part of their childhood living in care.

The display is part of our Heritage and Information Service, set up in response to a 2004 senate inquiry into Australians who had lived in institutional or out of home care as children. The inquiry recommended heritage centres be built on sites of former institutions as a memorial to those that once lived there.

The display gives a historical account of Catholic child welfare in Victoria with an emphasis on the lived experience of residents and staff.

Most significantly, the service holds over 115,000 records of former residents, enabling those who once lived in one of our homes (or their family members), to:

  • search for separated family members
  • reconnect with other former residents
  • gain a greater understanding of their childhood.

The Heritage display is open to the public and we encourage you to visit and learn more about our rich history. To arrange a visit call (03) 9699 9177.