Frances Barkman House, Group Homes (1939–c.1985)


  • Auspice: Australian Jewish Welfare Society (AJWS)
  • Title or Name: Frances Barkman House (1939–65?), Frances Barkman Group Homes (1965–85?)
  • Address: Maleela Avenue, Balwyn 3103, Glen Eira Road, Caulfield 3162, 16 Howitt Street, Caulfield 3141, 39 Aroona Road, Caulfield 3161

Agency history in brief 

In the late 1930s, the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society was established primarily as a support agency for Jewish pre- and post-war migrants. 

In the late 1930s, the society leased a home in Maleela Avenue, Balwyn (called Larine) for Jewish child immigrants from Germany and Austria. After the war ended, the Society purchased the property to accommodate orphaned child survivors of the war and the Holocaust.

In 1948, it was renamed Frances Barkman House in memory of a member of the Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society who played a key role in establishing and maintaining the home.

By the mid-1950s, Frances Barkman House mostly housed children of broken marriages, widows, or whose families were unable to care for them. In 1961–62, the society built a new Frances Barkman House on the Balywn site and also provided childcare services. In the mid-1960s, the society established three family group homes in Caulfield known as the Frances Barkman Homes in Aroona Road, Glen Eira Road, and Howitt Street.

In 1964, Balwyn property was sold and became the Illoura Children’s Home. The group homes continued to house children who were orphaned, or whose parents were unable to care for them. Almost all were private placements, with only a limited number of wards or infant life protection placements. 

In 1979–80, the Glen Eira Road home was converted to a hostel for people with an intellectual disability. In 1984, the society established a community and residential unit in Aroona Road for Jewish children aged between one to 18 years who had intellectual and physical disabilities.  

In 1989, the Society established the Frances Barkman Adolescent Unit and a foster care program. In 2001, Jewish Community Services merged with Montefiore Homes for the Aged to establish Jewish Care (Victoria) Inc.

Jewish Care now operates from a number of locations across Melbourne. Its Head Office is located at 619 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. 

Client Records

Jewish care (Victoria) Inc. currently operates a formal process for responding to requests for information from former clients. All requests for information are to be directed to the Privacy & Information Officer. The Privacy & Information Officer will locate and review any files relevant to the request, and work with the applicant in accessing and viewing the files in question.

Jewish Care is currently developing an improved data base and storage system for archiving client files.

People wishing to obtain information from the agency should contact:

Privacy & Information Officer
Jewish Care (Victoria) Inc.
619 St Kilda Road
Melbourne 3004
Ph: (03) 8517 5777
Fax: (03) 8517 5955

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 / P0001

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 Frances Barkman homes is dated 1965 to 1984 and includes:

  • correspondence and application for and declaration of 16 Howitt Road and 311 Glen Eira Road Caulfield as approved children's homes, 1965
  • inspection reports 1965–74
  • complaint and comments 1973
  • departmental correspondence regarding forecasting capital grant needs, 1978–79
  • wages returns 1979
  • subsidies for domestic appliances 1981
  • report of a child's death in hospital 1982
  • correspondence and declaration of 39 Aroona Road Caulfield as an Approved Children's Home 1983
  • departmental correspondence regarding proposed universal funding cuts 1983
  • correspondence and declaration of 34 Bundeera Road, South Caulfield as an approved children's home 1984.

Note that files relating to Illoura Children’s Home to be found in VPRS 18072 include references to Frances Barkman Home’s declaration as a children’s home, 1963, and to the 1964 sale of the Maleela Avenue property to the Social Welfare Department.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels files (1976–83)

File ; Temporary

Content: Files documenting the recommendations for staffing positions for homes and hostels; correspondence between the Minister of Community Welfare Services and senior officers; and funding information. The Staffing Priorities Committee made recommendations to the minister regarding priority of staffing positions required. Individual homes and hostels are listed accompanied by comprehensive material concerning each home, family group home or hostel. There are also minutes from the approved children's homes and hostels meetings from 1978–80.

The specific file relating to Frances Barkman Group Homes Australian Jewish Welfare and Relief Society is dated 1978.

Staffing Priorities Committee, homes and hostels, correspondence, guidelines for operation and minutes of meetings (1976–80)

File ; Unappraised

Content: Ministerial correspondence; Staffing Priority Committee minutes and list of members. The Staffing Priorities Committee made recommendations to the minister regarding priority of staffing positions required.

Family Welfare Division funding and accounts files (1971–77)

File ; Temporary

Content: Accounts and funding files for individual children’s homes, used to make allocations. They contain a monthly census giving names and dates of birth to calculate per capita expenses. There are annual reports of homes, income statements, reports on conditions of homes as assessed on visits. The records are arranged in a broad chronological order.

The specific file(s) relating to the Australian Jewish Welfare And Relief Society, Frances Barkman Group Home date from 1974–75.

Reviewed 10 August 2016