Travancore Developmental Centre (1933–68)


  • Auspice: Lunacy Department, located in Chief Secretary's Department 1905 - 1934 ; Department of Mental Hygiene, located in Chief Secretary's Department 1934-1937 ; Department of Mental Hygiene 1937-1944 ; Department of Health I 1944-1952 ; Mental Hygiene Authority [statutory authority] 1952-1962 ; Mental Health Authority [statutory authority] 1962-1978 ; Health Commission of Victoria 1978-1985 ; Department of Health II 1985-1992 ; Department of Health and Community Services 1992-1996 ; Department of Human Services I 1996-2010
  • Name: Travancore Developmental Centre (1938–68)
  • Other names: Travancore Psychiatric Developmental Centre (1968–82); Travancore Special School (1933–38); Travancore Child and Family Centre (1982–current)
  • Address: Flemington Street, Flemington

Travancore Developmental Centre history in brief 

In 1933, the Department of Mental Hygiene established Travancore Developmental Centre for children with intellectual disabilities.

Travancore comprised a residential centre and a school, as well as a clinic where children were medically and psychologically examined and assessed. 
Children could remain at Travancore until the age of 14. 

In 1940, in an address to the Medico Legal Society, Travancore’s operations were described as: ‘to promote all-round development, physical, intellectual, emotional and social, to the fullest extent possible’. Children were taught forms of hand and craft work.

In early 1942, the military required the buildings at Flemington and the Travancore Developmental Centre relocated to Hepburn Springs in rural Victoria. 

Around the same time (1942), while Travancore was located in Daylesford, it established the Moorakyne Hostel to house former Travancore residents and manage their employment placements at Daylesford Textile Mills. Travancore returned to Flemington in January 1944 and this work continued from the pre-school block. Moorakyne Hostel residents were placed in employment at the Yarra Falls Spinning Mills.

In 1950, the Moorakyne Hostel relocated to Hawthorn. The 1954 annual report of the Travancore Developmental Centre shows 55 children on the books. During the year there had been 34 admissions and 38 discharges.

In 1968 Travancore became a residential centre for children and its name was changed to Travancore Psychiatric Developmental Centre. 

The site currently houses the Travancore School – a Department of Education and Training (DET) school that provides educational services to young people who are current mental health clients, and liaises with schools to develop mental health programs for mainstream students. 

The site also accommodates:

Royal Children's Hospital Mental Health Service - Travancore Campus
50 Flemington Street, Flemington 3031
Phone: (03) 9345 6011
After hours: 1800 445 511 - for young people under 15 years of age

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.  See Find & Connect for more detail on the history of child welfare in Australia.


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.  

PLEASE NOTE: Patients could be admitted to a Receiving House for short-term treatment and care, but were not permitted to remain longer than two months. 
Patients still needing treatment after two months could be sent to a Psychiatric Hospital, in the same institution/complex or another. 
Hence, there could be more than one set of records for any one person. Please check each location for former patient records.

Travancore Clinic: papers of Psychiatrist Superintendent (1959) 

File; Permanent and Temporary

Content: Comprises box files of mainly reference material, personal papers, copies of Mental Health Authority Circulars and outward correspondence.

Travancore Clinic: Patient Case History files (1948–80)

File; Temporary

Content: Comprises PRISM numerical patient files and Royal Children’s Hospital alphabetical patient files. The files document the treatment and progress of children and adolescents who attended the clinic.

Reviewed 14 September 2016