• Organisation

Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo

Details

The Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo was established in 1905. It was also known as St Aidan’s Orphanage, and was the only Good Shepherd Convent in Australia to care for boys. The section named ‘St Aidan’s’ accommodated girls aged up to around 16 years, as well as boys aged up to around 11. ‘Maryfields’ housed girls and women aged from around 15 years. The Convent ceased to operate as a residential facility for children in 1981. A number of women with disabilities remained at the Convent until it closed in 1984.

Convent of the Good Shepherd, Bendigo was established at the request of the Bishop to cater for the many homeless children in the diocese.

Heritage Victoria describes St Aidan’s Orphanage as ‘landmark buildings [that] dominated the surrounding countryside, giving a high visibility to the charitable works of the Catholic Church and making a compelling statement about its authority.’

In the early 1930s the Sisters received a grant of £7000 from the state government’s Unemployment Relief Fund to build a two-storey building to the east of the original building at St Aidan’s. This was a major project in the Bendigo area during the Depression. The new building was opened by the Premier in 1931.

In 1955, the St Euphrasia Juvenile School was opened on the site. (Juvenile schools were defined by s.14 of the Children’s Welfare Act 1954 institutions ‘to care for juvenile offenders committed to the care of Children’s Welfare Department and young persons admitted or committed to Children’s Welfare Department who are in need of special supervision, social adjustment and training’.)

In April 1956, ‘St Aidan’s Orphanage’ was declared an approved children’s home under the Children’s Welfare Act 1954.

According to the ‘Finding Records’ website:

In 1958, The Orphanage housed 100 girls aged three to 17 years; the ‘Boys Block’ housed 30 boys aged three to nine years; and the ‘Re-education Centre’ housed 110 older girls.

By 1970, St Aidan’s had built self-contained units for junior section children to replace the dormitories. The number of children and young people in the institution was down to about 100.

During the early 1970s, the Order became responsible for about 150 elderly women who had been involved with the Order’s institutions for most of their lives. The women had disabilities and were disabled and totally dependent on the Order for care.

In 1972, the senior section was renamed Maryfield, and the junior section was renamed St Aidan’s Children’s Centre. St Aidan’s Children’s Centre provided care for approximately 50 children aged 3 to 16, the majority of whom were wards of state. All were accommodated in separate units in groups of 10.

St Aidan’s emphasised education and many older girls went into nursing at age 16-17. By 1977-78, St Aidan’s had established five family group homes in the Bendigo area for 30 children from long-term residential care.

In 1981, St Aidan’s terminated its involvement in residential child care. A number of women with disabilities remained in care from 1977, until the property was sold to Girton College in 1984.(DHHS, 2016)

In 1982, St Luke’s Anglicare took over the management of St Aidan’s Family Group Home. At that time, the Good Shepherd Sisters handed over the files of some residents to St Luke’s.

  • Alternative Names

    St Aidan's

    Maryfields

    St Aidan's Children's Centre

    St Aidan's Orphanage

  • From

    1905

  • To

    1984

Locations

  • 1905 - 1977

    The Convent of the Good Shepherd was located in St Aidan's Road, Kennington, Bendigo, Victoria (Building Still standing)

  • 1970? - 1982

    St Aidan's Children's Centre ran a family group home at 308 Barnard Street, Bendigo, Victoria (Building Still standing)

  • 1976 - 1982?

    St Aidan's Children's Centre ran a family group home at 169 High Street, Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo, Victoria (Building Still standing)

  • c. 1976 - 1982?

    St Aidan's Children's Centre ran Virginia Court, a family group home, at 20 Crook Street, Kennington, Bendigo, Victoria (Building Still standing)

  • 1977 - 1982?

    St Aidan's Children's Centre ran Roseville, a family group home, at 383 High Street, Golden Square, Bendigo, Victoria (Building Still standing)

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