Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre (1951–c.60s)


  • Auspice: Social Welfare Department
  • Name: Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre (1951–c.60s)
  • Other names: Queen Elizabeth Centre (1980s–1997), Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Mothers and Babies (c.1960s–80s), Carlton Refuge (1857–1949)
  • Address: Madeline Street, Carlton (1857–61), Keppel Street, Carlton (1861–1949), Lytton Street, Carlton (1970s–97)

Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre history in brief

In 1857, the Carlton Refuge/Carlton Home was established in Madeline Street, Carlton (relocating in 1890 to Keppel Street, Carlton). The Carlton Home provided maternity care for married and unmarried mothers, and residential care for infants and toddlers unable to be at home with their mother. It also operated a day-care centre for children. Most of the residents were mothers or children on private placements.

The Children's Welfare Department used the Carlton Home as a maternity home for wards, a foster home for infant wards, and for children requiring placements under the infant life protection provisions of the Children's Welfare Act.

By the late 1940s, the home was in a bad state of repair and it closed in 1949.

In 1951, the facility reopened as the Queen Elizabeth Maternal and Child Health Centre that also operated as an Infant Welfare and Mothercraft Training School.

The Centre provided after-care for nursing mothers and babies transferring from maternity hospitals, and specialised care for babies referred by private practitioners and the Social Welfare Department – babies who were premature, frail or had feeding or similar problems.

In the 1960s, the facility was renamed the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Mothers and Babies. At this stage, it had accommodation for 10 nursing mothers and babies and 15 additional babies. It also conducted a health centre subsidised by the Melbourne City Council, which provided a service to all mothers living in the Carlton area.

In 1965, the facility was declared a category 2 approved children's home.

During the early 1970s, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Mothers and Babies commenced a major rebuilding program and changed its frontage to Lytton Street, Carlton.

In the late 1980s the facility changed its name to the Queen Elizabeth Centre and provided the following integrated services:

•      Mothers and Babies Unit (inpatient and outpatient services)
•      Children's Unit
•      Care by Parents units
•      Day Nursery
•      Maternal and Child Health Centre Community Outreach Nurse (follow-up service).  

The centre promoted social and community health and preventive medicine centred around child development and family care. It received referrals from metropolitan, regional and statewide health, hospital and community agencies.

In 1997, the service in Carlton closed and relocated to Noble Park.

In 2016, Queen Elizabeth Centre was operating at 53 Thomas Street, Noble Park, Victoria 3174  

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.

See Find & Connect for more detail on the history of child welfare in 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 care leavers and wards of state, please consult the guide to Central department wardship and out-of-home care records. These collections date back to the 1860s and include ward registers, index cards and ward files.

Voluntary children’s homes files (c.1930–c.85)

File; Permanent (VPRS Number 10869 / P0001)
       Permanent (VPRS Number 10869 / P0002)

Content: 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 relating to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Mothers and Babies are dated from 1941 to 1983 and include:

File VH-053:

  • annual reports, 1962–63, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1982
  • When it’s time for extra care, brochure c.1970s.

File VH-053-78:

  • inspectors and visit reports, 1941 (quarterly), 1942–44, 1946–49, 1954–55, 1964, 1975, 1977
  • list of wards of state and infant life protection children treated for measles, 1945
  • correspondence regarding rates for wards boarded out in institutions, 1952
  • correspondence and report re home is not an approved children’s home and thus not eligible under the then Act for boarding out of state wards, 1955,  1964
  • correspondence regarding two babies with feeding difficulties, payment by department requested, 1964
  • application for and approval of declaration as an approved children’s home, 1964
  • lists of wards admitted in year 1965
  • correspondence regarding funding, boarding out payments and maintenance of state wards, 1966, 1967
  • report on child admitted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital from Allambie, 1967
  • declaration of 53 Lytton Street Carlton, Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Mothers and Babies, as an approved children’s home, 1983
  • general information brief on the hospital and its programs

Reviewed 01 September 2016