Cafs’ history and collection

Our Apology

The Agency now called “Child and Family Services Ballarat Incorporated” (Cafs) has Cared for children since 1866.


It managed the “Ballarat District Orphan Asylum (1866-1909), the Ballarat Orphanage” (1909 – 1968) and the “Ballarat Children’s Home” (1968 – 1983) providing institutional accommodation for children.


We are sorry.

For the abuse and cruelty that many children endured, and the needless pain and suffering that was inflicted. For failing in our duty of care. For failing to keep them safe. For failing to implement policies and processes to protect them from abuse and harm. For enabling and protecting the perpetrators of abuse. When children told us what happened, we didn’t listen to them. When the adults they became told us what happened, we ignored them for years. For many, justice was neither pursued nor achieved.

We took labour from children and robbed them of opportunities to prosper later in life. Many children never received the education they deserved, nor got to make choices about their own lives. Many did not receive the medical care they needed, causing longer term damage later in life.


We are sorry to families and for keeping them apart. To the mothers and fathers who could not visit their children, and the brothers and sisters who were separated from each other.


We were active participants in policies and practices that led to the Stolen Generations, and the devastation of Aboriginal families and communities.

We were part of the systems and structures that caused physical, psychological and social harm to children from all over Victoria, Australia and the world.


We acknowledge that trust has been betrayed and irreparable harm caused.  We do not seek forgiveness, we now seek truth and justice.


We commit to shine a light on our past, and to help former residents and their families keep finding and telling their own stories. We face our past so we can do better for families and children now and in the future.


Cafs has a long history spanning more than 156 years beginning in 1866 when the first children entered the Ballarat Orphan Asylum.


Cafs holds a significant collection of records, photographs and objects that document the experiences and lives of the children and families who lived in and connected with the former Ballarat Orphan Asylum, Ballarat Orphanage and Ballarat Children’s Home, and those who have more recently experienced out of home care services.


At Cafs we recognise this history belongs to the people who made it – children, young people and families. We respect and appreciate the multiple and complex perspectives of the many people who have been a part of this.

Services for former residents, care leavers and their families

Cafs’ Heritage and History Team provides services to support the rights of former residents, care leavers and their families to access records the organisation holds about them. The collection includes records, photographs and objects that relate to the former Ballarat Orphan Asylum, Ballarat Orphanage and Ballarat Children’s Home.


For all records search and access enquiries please contact our Heritage and History Service Team:

Email – records@cafs.org.au
Phone – 03 5337 3333


Cafs works with a number of agencies that support care leavers and provide services to access records on their behalf including Open Place and Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN). For information on accessing these services contact:


Open Place, Find and Connect


Free call – 1800 16 11 09
Email – info@openplace.org.au
Website – openplace.org.au


Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN)


Phone – 1800 008 774 or 0425 204 747
Email – support@clan.org.au
Website – clan.org.au



National Redress Scheme and Cafs

Wendy Sturgess, Chief Executive Officer of Cafs, is pleased to announce the Cafs’ Board has made the decision in December 2018 to join the National Redress Scheme.  This means that people who were abused in the care of the Ballarat Orphanage and Ballarat Children’s Home can apply to the Scheme for redress.

The National Redress Scheme commenced in July 2018 and will operate for 10 years. It has been introduced in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Redress is an alternative to seeking compensation through the courts.

The National Redress Scheme can provide three things:


  • Access to counselling
  • A payment and
  • A direct personal response from the institution (apology) for people who want it.


The National Redress Scheme supports you seeking information by providing the attached fact sheets:



Free and confidential Redress Support Services are available throughout the process.  They will assist in explaining how the Scheme works and who can apply.


Direct Personal Response

Cafs believes;


‘There is no greater agony than bearing the burden of an untold story inside you”

To this extent, Cafs would like to give survivors an opportunity to speak to their experiences, to be heard, understood and believed.  This can be in one of the following forms:


  • A face to face meeting, in which the survivor meets with a senior member of the organisation
  • A written apology
  • Any other method agreed with the survivor and Cafs


For further information about participating in a “Direct Personal Response’ please call the CEO office on 5337 3321


For further information about the National Redress Scheme please go to: https://www.nationalredress.gov.au/ or call the National Redress Scheme line on 1800 737 377.

Client Engagement Team 1800 692 237

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Head Office
115 Lydiard Street North
Ballarat VIC 3350

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Cafs acknowledges our past. In the spirit of reconciliation, we give deepest respect to Australia's First Nations Peoples. Their histories, their stories, their resilience. Their connection to culture and land. The wisdom of their Elders past, present and emerging.

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