St Joseph’s Receiving Home provided support for pregnant women and girls during their last stages of pregnancy.
The home was originally run by a local woman, Mrs Margaret Goldspink, who had been informally assisting destitute pregnant women for many years, often supported by Father O’Connell of Carlton.
Located near the Women’s Hospital, the home provided a safe, private place to stay during the last stages of pregnancy. Mrs Goldspink also offered the home as a place for mothers to return to after their child was born and stay until they had somewhere else to live.
The home later relocated to Grattan Street and was managed by the Sisters of St Joseph. Again, unsupported women could stay during the last stages of pregnancy and return to live at the home until they found other accommodation or could return to their family.
While adoption was often presented as the most acceptable solution for unwed mothers, evolving societal attitudes and changes to government support for single mothers lead to a gradual drop in adoption rates. This was further strengthened in 1969 when the Victorian government extended its Family Assistance to include single mothers and in 1973, when the Federal government introduced the Supporting Mothers' Benefit. Such financial assistance saw Victorian adoption rates drop from over 50 per cent in 1967 to just 10 per cent in 1975.
The receiving home was renamed St Joseph’s Babies and Family Services in 1985 and in the following year relocated to Glenroy.
Between 1901 and 1997, more than 12,500 mothers lived at either St Joseph’s in Carlton, or St Joseph’s Foundling Hospital in Broadmeadows.