Transfer of Historic Records

We would like to acknowledge those who spent time as children or youths in orphanages, children’s homes, foster homes or any other form of institutional or out-of-home ‘care’.

Transfer of Historic Records from Australian Red Cross to University of Melbourne

In recognition of the importance of research value of the historic records created by the ‘Australian Red Cross Heritage Collection’ (1914-2014) it was determined that the records be transferred to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA).

UMA is one of the largest research archives in Australia with over 60 years of serving academics, students and the public. UMA cares for over 20 linear km of historic records housed in a purpose-built archival temperature and humidity controlled repository. UMA has many other collections relating to a broad range of social welfare organisations and already includes records of Care Leavers as well as administrative records of some homes. See: Child Welfare Records – Background.

UMA is run by a team of dedicated archival specialists who ensure the preservation, safety and care of records. The UMA adheres to the Australian Society of Archivists code of ethics and has an Access Framework which safeguards the privacy of individuals described in the records. UMA also provide a dedicated free reference service which seeks to assists researchers to discover and access records in our vast collection.

UMA coordinates with Find & Connect Support Services to provide services to those who grew up in orphanages and other out of home 'care' facilities, and their families. As such we encourage people eligible to apply for access to the restricted records via the support service. For support services contact details, please see https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/contact/.

Please note:  Australian Red Cross records at UMA contain no personal ‘case files’ relating to individual Care Leavers. These historic records are primarily adminstrative, relating to the management of Australian Red Cross homes and hospitals. Some of the types of records include: reports, minutes, administrative correspondence, admission numbers, staffing, financial expenditure, building plans as well as photographs of buildings and children. Amongst these are very small references to Care Leavers.

Please note that these records are incomplete, they refer to some (but not all) homes, and are often incomplete in their date range. This guide will continue to evolve as more records of interest within the  collection and in any future records transferred to UMA are identified.

Reference and Support Services

Care Leavers can request to view records directly through University of Melbourne Archives (UMA), or via a support service. archives@archives.unimelb.edu.au +61 3 9035 4337  +61 3 834 40590

Find out more via the UMA Child Welfare Records - Accessing Records page

ARC Archives offers a free reference service and may be able to assist in the discovery of records: privacy@redcross.org.au

Find & Connect Support Services provide extra services for Care Leavers and their families : https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/
Freecall 1800 16 11 09 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm

Acquisition

During a five year five year period (2014-2019), UMA was actively engaged with the ARC Archives to transfer the records of both the:

  • Australian Red Cross Society – National Office, and
  • Australian Red Cross Society – Victorian Division

This has occurred across three major transfers (in 2015, 2017 and 2019). As of October 2020, the collection comprises 1,723 boxes, spanning some 300 linear meters. As the collection is large, and the organisational structure complex, this guide seeks to assist Care Leavers in navigating and discovering records.

Delivery of boxes from a truck
Delivery of boxes from a truck, c.1940, Australian Red Cross Society, National Office, Photographs, 2016.0081.00034