Cottage By The Sea (1890 - )


  • Auspice: Committee of Management
  • Title or Name:Cottage By The Sea, Queenscliff Inc (1890 - )
  • Alternative Names: Ministering Children’s League (Cottage-by-the-sea), Ministering Children’s League Inc.
  • Children's Homes: Flinders Street, Queenscliff, 3225, “Happy Days” Black Rock, “The Lodge” Sandringham

Cottage by the Sea history in brief

In 1885, the Countess of Meath in England founded The Ministering Children's League and in 1890, a Ministering Children's League centre was formed in Melbourne with branches throughout the state.

The first cottage (Cottage by the Sea) was built on a high point overlooking the sea at Queenscliff and initially, offered care and accommodation for children recovering from an illness.

In 1938, a new Cottage by the Sea replaced the original buildings. It was taken over by the Department of Defence from 1939–42 and the Ministering Children's League continued at two other locations in Sandringham, Happy Days and The Lodge. 

The Lodge continued as a holiday home for boys until 1953, when it closed.

From the 1960s, the Cottage by the Sea provided respite and emergency care for children whose families were under severe stress. It accepted about 40 children each month for three weeks – a total of 440 children each year. 

Most referrals came from a network of agencies including the Melbourne City Council Social Work Department; the School Medical Service; hospitals, including the Royal Children's; a group of Infant Welfare Sisters particularly in the Heidelberg area; and a number of older general welfare agencies such as the Supporting Mothers' Association.

In 1998, the name was changed to Cottage by the Sea, Queenscliff Incorporated. 

More than 600 children were accommodated at the cottage in 1999–00.
The agency continues to provide short-term relief care in a holiday environment for children in need. Cottage by the Sea, Queenscliff draws its admissions from a referral network of over 200 agencies. 

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 .


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

Departmental administration

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

Administration files; Permanent (VPRS Number 18069/P0001) and 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 files relating to Cottage by the Sea are dated 1977 to 1990 and include: 

  • correspondence, reports, comments and applications relating to funding and grants including differences in philosophy between the Ministering Children’s League and the department, 1977–84
  • reports on services, category of home, philosophy and so on, 1977–90
  • annual reports (and other documents) that include photographs of facilities and children, 1977–83
  • statistics and other details on admissions, 1979
  • lists of children accommodated, 1980
  • lists of admissions and discharges, highlighting wards of the state, 1979–83
  • staffing lists and daily routine, 1979–81
  • recommendations to close including withdrawal of funding, 1981–90
  • press clippings 1983–85

Reviewed 05 September 2016