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From the 1850s, the congregations of the Christian Brothers, the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of St Joseph worked in Victoria establishing homes for children who were orphaned, destitute or neglected, and for families who were in need of care and support.

In the decades prior to MacKillop’s formation, there was a shift away from large residential institutions to smaller units, home-based care and family preservation services. In the 1990’s, to respond to this social movement, seven child and welfare agencies operated by these three congregations, came together with a common goal of supporting vulnerable children, young people and families. In 1997, MacKillop Family Services was formed. It was a bold move at the time, requiring openness, collaboration and respect. These values remain strong in the culture and work of MacKillop today.

Over the past 25 years, MacKillop has grown from a team of 200, delivering residential care, foster care, education, disability and family support across Melbourne and Geelong, to over 1400 employees located in 40 offices in five states and territories. Highlights across the decades are featured in the interactive timeline below.

Looking forward, MacKillop is committed to working for the rights of all children, young people and families to be safe, to learn, and to feel nurtured and connected to culture. By building an evidence base about what program responses work best and drawing on our history and experience, we seek to inform future policy and advocate for the best outcomes for children, young people and families, ensuring that MacKillop can continue to grow, innovate, and provide high quality and inclusive services well into the future.

Tell us about your MacKillop story


We’d love to hear from you about your experience of MacKillop. Please share a story, an insight, or your hope for the future of MacKillop, and the children, young people and families we support.


The stories that make MacKillop


The timeline below showcases the milestones from our past that form who we are today. Click the circles on the timeline and read about the people we’ve supported, the programs we’ve launched and the initiatives we’ve developed with the goal to empower children, young people and families across Australia.