Mission to the Streets and Lanes (1886–1997)


  • Auspice: Anglican Church; Church of England
  • Name: Mission to the Streets and Lanes (1886–1997)
  • Other names: The Church of England Mission to the Streets and Lanes, Diocesan Mission to the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne, The Anglican Mission to the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne
  • Address: 171 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Spring Street, Melbourne (1913), Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy (1958)

Mission to the Streets and Lanes history in brief 

In 1886 the Bishop of Melbourne established the Anglican Mission to the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne. The Council, the governing body of the Mission comprised mainly women with the exception of the Bishop of Melbourne and the Chaplain.

In 1888, Miss Emma Silcock (known as Sister Esther) assumed responsibility for the Mission. She was also the founder of the Community of the Holy Name in Victoria. The Sisters established the Church of England Homes for Children at Brighton. By 1900, the Mission had a staff of six deaconesses and one probationer. Its first address was 171 Little Lonsdale Street. In 1913, it moved to Spring Street and in 1958 to Fitzroy Street, Fitzroy.

In 1973, ideas about child care needs had changed and the Sisters’ stopped providing children’s residential child care services, instead establishing in the Brighton community small scattered family group home units for five to eight children each, with cottage parents in charge.

The remaining buildings at Brighton were reallocated to new programs and renamed Unit 64 and St Faith’s. In 1976–77 the Mission integrated the facilities and programs and extended them to the southern region. The services were phased out in around 1984. In 1997 the Mission merged with the Mission of St James and St John and the St John's Homes for Boys and Girls to form Anglicare. 

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.


Please note that this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history. For more information on the history of child welfare in Australia, see Find & Connect .


National Library of Australia:
Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting, North Melbourne, November 2001.

List of records held by the department

For information relating to the central management of wards of state, please consult the guide Central Department Ward Records. These collections date back to the 1860s and include ward registers, index cards and ward files.

Defunct Agency Adoption Records (Adoption Information Service) (1905-2011)

File; Unappraised

Content: The Adoption Act 1984 allowed approved agencies to arrange and negotiate the adoption of children. It also required that agencies keep certain records. If an agency’s approval or operations ceased, their records were to be forwarded to the Secretary of the Department. 

The Act also required the Department to establish an adoption information service (AIS), with access to both records created by the Department and the records of the former approved agencies. The adoption records now held by the Department were created by as many as 30 different adoption agencies that were in operation at different times. After the AIS was formed, circa 1985, it gathered the records of the various former agencies, numbered the files sequentially with an “A” prefix and created a full index.

Other AIS unnumbered adoption files and card indexes were also transferred at a later date. The records management unit allocated these records different numbering systems to distinguish between the card indexes from the files. The categories of files were grouped by the adoption agency they related to and the function of the file. Some of the file sequences also hold an "A" prefix as adoption files. However, the numbering system is separate to the first collection transferred from the AIS.

Content of files will vary but may include.

  • Application to Adopt form
  • Documents and correspondence supporting the application.
  • Consent to Adopt and correspondence.
  • Legal documents
  • Birth certificates
  • Photographs

Records in this collection attributed to the Mission to the Streets and Lanes are not numbered in the A sequence of files. Rather they were numbered using the Archives’ system of numbering files according to the identity of the collection and box they were located in. There are also two types of record in this collection:

  • Adoption files identified by name of the adoptive parent, c1939-c.1970
  • Mission House Registers containing adoption consent forms, c.1928–61. 

Voluntary children’s homes files (c.1930–c.1985)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0001)
       Permanent (VPRS Number 18069 / P0002)  

The files record interaction between the various voluntary homes and the government. This filing system was created in 1975, combining earlier correspondence and other records to create one system with VH prefixes.

The specific files relate to both the operations of the auspice organisation Mission to the Streets and the Lanes, as well as Unit 64, St Faith’s and the Brighton Family Centre. The files date from 1973 to 1986 and include the following contents.

File: VH-0010-2 – Mission to Streets and Lanes

  • annual reports 1979–1981
  • SALT newsletter, 1982

File: VH-0010 – Mission to Streets and Lanes Archival 

  • report, An alternative concept in childcare, 1973 
  • correspondence regarding Brighton children’s home, 1973
  • meeting of ‘those concerned with schooling needs of residents of Unit 64, notes and correspondence, 1975
  • costings regarding Brighton Babies Home, 1975

File: VH-0010-1-01 – Mission to Streets and Lanes 

  • correspondence and report 1976 – An alternative concept in residential care for adolescents, includes Unit 64, St David’s Hostel, 84 St David Street Fitzroy, and flatting program (four flats, Brighton), and report on Brighton Family Centre, 1976 
  • 1977–78 – correspondence, discussion papers and meeting minutes for Brighton Family Care Centre, and other Mission homes, including funding and staffing positions, 1977, 1978
  • position paper, Development of specialised a community based residential program for adolescents, 1978
  • request for funding, salary subsidies 1978, 1979, 1980
  • correspondence regarding Unit 64 proposed relocation of two residential units to Tibrockney Street, Highett, 1979

  • annual financial statement, 1979
  • list of wards in residence, 1978–79
  • meetings notes, reports and correspondence between the department and the Mission, regarding relocation of Unit 64 and St Faith’s and funding for new programs, 1980–81 to 1982
  • copy, correspondence between the Mission and City of Brighton, regarding building permit, Unit 64 and solicitor’s correspondence (issues of dispute,) 1983
  • application and approval for Unit 64 (units 1 and 2) and St Faith’s to be an approved children’s home, 1983

  • budget cut correspondence, 1983
  • correspondence – department expects that demand for Unit 64 will diminish, 1984
  • briefing notes for Department of Community Welfare Services for meeting with Mission executive – (summarises Mission’s services: Brighton Family Centre provide family counselling in southern region; Broadmeadows Family Centre provide Family counselling in the North West Region; North East Foster Care provides foster care in then north east region; Unit 64 / St Faith’s, adolescent units in then Southern Region), 1985
  • Mission purchased property for early adolescent unit at 10 Hamilton Street, Bentleigh: request for funding, 1986

Reviewed 31 August 2016