In 1901, then Archbishop of Melbourne, Thomas Carr, called on the Sisters of St Joseph’s Mother General, Mary MacKillop to assist in establishing a “sheltering home for unfortunate mothers and their young babies”.
This lead to the opening of the St Joseph’s Foundling Hospital at Broadmeadows, providing mothers with no support, a place to live before and after their child was born. Families struggling with illness or poverty also used the home for respite care of their young child/ren.
In 1931, the hospital established a mothercraft training school, providing much-needed infant care education. The school later played a pivotal role as a training ground for mothercraft nurses in Catholic institutions throughout Australasia.
Over the next three decades, as societal morals continued to judge women who became pregnant outside of marriage, adoption was seen as the only option for babies.
The babies’ home closed in 1975, replaced with the St Joseph’s Babies and Family Service in Glenroy. This offered foster care for babies awaiting adoption and respite placement for children.