Australian Women's Register

An initiative of The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) in conjunction with The University of Melbourne

Skip to content

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Organisation

  • Trove

Children's Protection Society ( Vic.) (1896 - )

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Welfare organisation
Alternative Names
  • Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (former name, 1896 - 1971)
70 Altona St Heidelberg West Vic 3081 Telephone: 9458 3566


The Children's Protection Society (CPS) was founded in 1896 as the Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. An initiative of the Governor's wife, Lady Sybil de Vere Brassey, its aims were to protect children from cruelty and neglect, to advance the claims of neglected, abandoned and orphan children to the general public, to co-operate with existing societies for this purpose and to enforce the existing laws for the protection of neglected children and juvenile offenders. It was one of the few secular non government agencies in the child welfare field and it operated on the philosophy of persuading or, in the last resort, compelling parents to fulfil their responsibilities. It became the Children's Protection Society in 1971. Changes to welfare policy and legislative reform in 1985 meant a change in the Society's role but not in the objective to reduce child abuse and neglect.


The Society operated through a committee of 'leisured upper-class women financing and overseeing the small salaried staff that had direct contact with the clientele'. The first object was to compel parents to discharge their duties and if it could not be done by persuasion, then they would put the law into force.Their uniformed inspectors followed up reports of 'child cruelty' by visiting the homes, issuing warnings and undertaking follow-up visits to ensure that the situation had improved. Only as a last resort did the Society exercise its statutory authority to bring such parents before the court.

In 2004 its mission is 'to provide leadership in the prevention and reduction of abuse and neglect by delivering innovative support services to children and their families, raising public awareness of the extent and impact of child abuse and neglect and to strengthen families and communities to create safe environments for children'.

Sources used to compile this entry: Scott, Dorothy and Swain, Shurlee, Confronting cruelty: historical perspectives on child abuse, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 2002, 221 pp.

Related entries

Board of Directors

Vice President

Archival resources

State Library of Victoria

  • Records, 1896-1985, [manuscript], 1896 - 1985, Accession no: MS 10384; Children's Protection Society ( Vic.) (1896 - ); State Library of Victoria. Details

Rosemary Francis

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

© Copyright in The Australian Women's Register is owned by the Australian Women's Archives Project
and vested in each of the authors in respect of their contributions from 2000

The Australian Women's Register is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

The Australian Women's Register is published quarterly by the Australian Women's Archives Project
ISSN 2207-3124