William Booth Memorial Home for Girls (1912–72)


  • Auspice: Salvation Army
  • Title or Name: William Booth Memorial Home
  • Address: East Camberwell

William Booth Girls' Home history in brief 

In 1880, the Salvation Army opened its first home for girls in Murrumbeena. 

In 1912, the girls were transferred to a new home in East Camberwell, called the William Booth Memorial Home in memory of the Salvation Army’s founder, William Booth. 

The home had capacity for about 70 Protestant girls aged four to 14 years, many of them state wards.

In the 1940s and 1950s, capacity was about 55 and in November 1955, it became an approved children's home.

By 1965, capacity was down to 44 with girls ranging in age from two to over 15 years, and boys, particularly siblings, up to eight years.

In 1965, Salvation Army policy focus shifted to family support and rehabilitation; day care support; adoption and foster care; and an emphasis on family group cottages, including separate boys and girls cottages.

In 1972, William Booth Memorial Home closed and the residents transferred to the Salvation Army's Home in East Kew. 

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 the content of 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 .


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.1985)

File ; Permanent VPRS Number 18069 / 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 file relating to the William Booth Memorial Home/East Camberwell Girls Home is dated 1938–72 and includes:

  • reports of inspectors from visits to the home, on the infant life protection children and wards, with occasional references to children by name, 1938–70
  • complaints and allegations including investigation reports 1940 and 1970
  • transfers of wards (four named) to East Kew 1941
  • seven named children have measles, 1942
  • staffing arrangements, duty statements, pay scales etc., 1947–66
  • weekly payments for wards 1952
  • application for and declaration of William Booth Memorial Home for Girls, Salvation Army girls home, as an approved children's home 1955
  • letters seeking permission for the Victorian and Tasmanian Churches of Christ Aborigines’ Committee to visit Aboriginal wards at the Salvation Army Girls Home, 1956
  • opening of building extension 1956
  • training of staff to provide sex education 1962–63
  • surgical consent for children under 18, 1964
  • rail vouchers 1965
  • survey of children resident at Salvation Army homes at Kew, Camberwell and Box Hill 1965
  • wards in employment and still residing in approved children's homes 1963
  • cost of wards’ school uniforms 1966
  • cancellation of registration of the William Booth Memorial Home for Children, Camberwell 1972.

Reviewed 10 August 2016