Holding on to Hope

A History of the Founding Agencies of MacKillop Family Services 1854-1997

Cover and internal spread of Holding on to Hope

Written by Jill Barnard and Karen Twig, Holding on to Hope draws on rich primary sources, case records and oral histories dating from the early Victorian and Gold Rush settlements - from the 1850’s through to the establishment of MacKillop Family Services in 1997.

The book illuminates aspects of Catholic welfare history in Victoria as seen through the agencies managed by the Sisters of Mercy, the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of St. Joseph. It charts the struggle of these three Religious Orders to provide care and support for marginalised children, mothers and families over many years. Initially it began in large institutions and then, as congregate care was abandoned, through a range of child and family services.

Holding On To Hope tells the story of children separated from their families, of women forced to seek refuge from the stigma of unmarried motherhood, and of religious and lay staff labouring to make a difference under demanding conditions. It also offers insight into the broader social and economic forces that influenced Catholic welfare, exploring, for instance, the sectarianism that divided the welfare field, changing notions of ‘appropriate’ care and developments in government welfare policy.

It contains insights and interviews with 70 people, including parents who gave up children, orphanage staff, and the children who spent time in these various institutions.

To purchase Holding on to Hope from our Heritage Centre please either visit the Centre (located at 237 Cecil Street, South Melbourne) or phone us on (03) 9699 9177 to order your copy.

  • A hard cover copy of the book is $40.00 (plus a $10.00 postage and handling fee)
  • A soft cover copy of the book is $25.00 (plus a $10.00 postage and handling fee)

The Heritage Centre at MacKillop Family Services accepts cash, cheque, Mastercard or Visa payments.