Our History

More than 150 years ago the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of St Joseph commenced their work in Victoria.

St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage, Emerald Hill, 1862 engraved by Authur Wilmore

Inspired by the charism of their founders, Catherine McAuley, Edmund Rice and Mary MacKillop, the three congregations established homes for children who were orphaned, destitute or neglected and for mothers who were in need of care and support.

The Homes that formed part of these services included:

Throughout the years, the original model of institutional care evolved into different forms of residential care, foster care, education and family support services.

In 1997, MacKillop Family Services was formed by the three congregations and it is now a leading provider of integrated services to children, young people and families.

On 1 July 2009, Edmund Rice Community Services, an agency of the Christian Brothers in New South Wales, became part of MacKillop Family Services.

Today, MacKillop is a leading provider of services for children, young people and their families. We work across New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

The programs we deliver include foster care and residential care, disability services, youth support, education and training, family support, refugee services and support to women and men who, as children, were in the care of our founding agencies.

In July 2013, MacKillop Family Services officially opened our Heritage Display on the site of the former St Vincent de Paul’s Boys’ orphanage in South Melbourne, Victoria.


  • VIC Central Office enquiry@mackillop.org.au(03) 9699 9177237 Cecil StreetSouth Melbourne VIC 3205
  • NSW Head Office nsw@mackillop.org.au(02) 8881 480012-14 Second AvenueBlacktown NSW 2148
  • WA Officewa@mackillop.org.au(08) 9250 11149 Sayer StreetMidland WA 6056
  • Foster Care Enquiry Line 1300 791 677
  • Supporter Hotline1300 218 935
History of MacKillop Family Services' timeline within MacKillop's Heritage Display in South Melbourne

Heritage Display

In July 2013 MacKillop Family Services officially opened a heritage display on the site of the former St Vincent de Paul's Boys' Orphanage in South Melbourne, Victoria.  Read more

Historic black and white photo of the Saint Vincent De Paul's Orphanage in South Melbourne Victoria

Apology to Former Residents

A message from our founding congregations  Read more

Black and white photo of St Vincent's Boys' home Cecil Street, South Melbourne 1940s

St Vincent's Boys' Orphanage - South Melbourne, Victoria

1854 - St Vincent de Pauls Orphanage Father Gerald Ward established the first Catholic orphanage in Melbourne when he took on the care of three boys William, John and Laurence Sherry whose parents h...  Read more

Black and white photo of St Augustine's Highton. The immense size of the new orphanage illustrated. In January 1939.

St Augustine's Orphanage - Geelong, Victoria

1855 - Friendly Brothers Society Around the same time that ten acres of land was granted to the St Vincent de Paul Society in South Melbourne, the Victorian Government gave three acres and 500 for the...  Read more

Black and white photo of St Vincent's girls orphanage playground 1930s.

St Vincent's Girls' Orphanage - South Melbourne, Victoria

1861 - St Vincent de Pauls Girls Orphanage After taking responsibility for the orphanage at Emerald Hill at the request of the Bishop, Mother Ursula Frayne spoke compellingly to the Royal Commission s...  Read more

St Catherine's Highton Geelong 1930s playground

St Catherine's Girls' Orphanage - Geelong, Victoria

1862 - Our Ladys Girls Orphanage, Newtown In 1859 the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Geelong to take responsibility for orphan girls. In 1864 Our Ladys Orphanage was built as part of the buildings incorp...  Read more

Black and white historic photo of St Joseph's Home for Boys, Surrey Hills Garden Party

St Joseph's Home for Boys - Surrey Hills, Victoria

1888 - St Josephs Home for Destitute Children, South Melbourne The St Vincent de Paul Society set up a house in South Melbourne in response to the child rescue movement. The objective being to provide...  Read more

Historic black and white photo of St Joseph's receiving home, Calrton. Date Unknown.

St Joseph's Receiving Home - Carlton, Victoria

1902 - St Josephs Receiving Home Barkly Street, Carlton In 1901 Mrs Margaret Goldspink spoke to the Sisters of the need for a Receiving Home near the Womens Hospital in Carlton so that women and girls...  Read more

Black and white photo of Sister Martin Burns with a class. St Anthony's late 1940s.

St Anthony's Home - Kew, Victoria

1922 - St Anthonys Home for Little Children, Kew St Anthonys was established in August 1922 to deal with overcrowding at the Babies Home at Broadmeadows. Children thought to be too young to be placed ...  Read more

Black and white historic photo of St Joseph's Babies Home Broadmeadows. Date Unknown

St Joseph's Babies' Home - Broadmeadows, Victoria

1901 - St Josephs Foundling Hospital, Broadmeadows In 1901, Archbishop Carr enlisted Mary MacKillop to respond to the needs of mothers and babies. Mothers who had no support needed a place to live bef...  Read more