Australian AboriginalTorress Strait IslandPrograss Pride

We invite you to explore the timeline of our rich history and audacious future, striving to ensure women, girls and families are safe, well, strong and connected.

If you’d like to donate to support our work, please click here.
Explore 160 Years

Historical context

Good Shepherd’s response

2024 & beyond

Our new Strategic Plan will roll out a cutting-edge social services strategy, to better serve women, girls, and families.

It adopts an ecosystem approach that creates, activates, and amplifies multi-sector partnerships, assets and thought leadership, to develop and deliver place-based, integrated and rights-based social services.

Our strategy repositions the organisation as an influential ecosystem enabler that, true to the Good Shepherd tradition, works with and through others. It also draws from our history to do justice to our Mission and ensure the viability of Good Shepherd Australian New Zealand for generations to come.

2024 and beyond - Partner with Good Shepherd


Recovery and Advocacy – client centered, wrap around support.

The Commonwealth refines its approach to social security through improved Family Tax Benefits and equal child support that is better aligned to contemporary attitudes. The Department of Human Services was created to help manage and coordinate the work of Centrelink and other Commonwealth payments and services.

2023 - Good Shepherd’s Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan is approved by Reconciliation Australia.
2022 - Good Shepherd Former Residents Reunion held at the Abbotsford Convent.
2021 - Good Shepherd partners with the Commonwealth Bank to deliver the Financial Independence Hub (FIH) that aims to provide support to those experiencing financial abuse.
2021 - Core and Cluster Refuge established to provide accommodation that promotes women’s safety, is accessible to people with disabilities, provides private units and enables connections with the community, work, and school.
2018 - National Redress Scheme begins.
2018 - Good Shepherd joins other Victorian social services organisations in rolling out The Orange Door network of support and safety hubs, in accordance with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016).
2016 - Financial Inclusion Action Plan (FIAP) established to enable organisations from diverse sectors to combine forces to enhance financial inclusion, resilience, and wellbeing in Australia.
2015 - Royal Commission into Family Violence begins.
2015 - Waranara Day Program Centre in Marrickville, NSW registers as a special assistance secondary school (Yr 9-12).
2013 - Introduction of the National Disability Insurance (Yr 9-12).
2013 - Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Begins.
2013 - The Good Shepherd Sisters issue a formal apology to Former Residents.
2009 - National Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.
2008 - National Apology to Aboriginal People and Stolen Generation.
2003 - Forgotten Australians Report Released.


Targeted welfare assistance and de-institutionalisation

The 1970s saw the closure of most of Australia’s residential institutions. Children’s homes, homes for people with mental illness and people with disability were closed. It was also an era of great structural reform including refreshed education, health systems and social welfare.

2000 - Care Leavers Australasia Network formed.
1990s - Good Shepherd opens its first family violence refuge on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. This was the first refuge of this type following the era of Good Shepherd hostels.
1984 - Introduction of Medicare.
1982 - Rosemount Day Centre established to provide youth services.
1976 - Good Shepherd establishes Youth and Family Services.
1975 - Family Law Act passed and a ‘no-fault’ divorce clause introduced.
1975 - Abbotsford Convent Sold.
1973 - Supporting Mother’s Benefit introduced.
1972 - Equal Pay for Women.
1972 - Good Shepherd Aged Services founded.
1971 - Women are granted loans without requiring a male guarantor.


Greater community integration of services

From the mid-20th century, the philosophy of protecting ‘vulnerable persons’ from harm and exploitation within an institution is beginning to shift.

1968 - Good Shepherd Neuville Training Centre established, a security centre for ‘delinquent’ girls.
1966 - Wave Hill Walk Off and end of White Australia Policy. Marriage Bar abolished.
1962 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander granted the right to vote.
1961 - 1972 - Vietnam War.
1961 - Introduction of the oral contraceptive pill.
1948 - Toongabbie, a holiday home and farm school for girls opens in Western Sydney, NSW.
1945 - National introduction of sickness and unemployment benefits.
1945 - End of World War Two.
1943 - First women in Australian Parliament.


Places of refuge, relief and charity

War, a pandemic and the Great Depression increase the number of Australians requiring aid. To meet the growing need, Good Shepherd expands its reformatory schools and institutions across NSW, Tasmania, Queensland, and New Zealand.

1939 - Start of World War Two.
1932 - Height of the Great Depression, with 32 percent unemployment.
1931 - Mt Maria, Brisbane/Good Shepherd Home for Girls is established for the reformation of girls and the care of poor and neglected children.
1914-1918 - World War One.
1913 - Ashfield, NSW opens residential care, reformatory school and Magdalen laundry. It is the first Good Shepherd facility in NSW.
1904 - Home of the Good Shepherd in Leederville, Western Australia opens to provide residential care for teenage girls and women.
1902 - Commonwealth Franchise Act gives non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women the vote in federal elections.


Institutionalisation care and work

In the absence of a social security system in Australia during the 19th century, charitable institutions provide relief to those who need support.

1886 - Good Shepherd Sisters arrive in New Zealand and open a large residential facility for women and children suffering disadvantage at Mt Magdala Convent in Christchurch.
1880s - Depression.
1864 - Magdalen laundry at Abbotsford is opened.
1863 - Sister Mary Euphrasia carries forward the Good Shepherd Mission by sending four sisters to Australia in response to the growing number of women in distressed circumstances in the Melbourne area.
“It is up to you to make it possible that those exhausted and lost in the ways of the world should find strength in the shade of this healing tree.”
Sister Mary Euphrasia.


Incarceration and work

Following Captain Cook’s landing and the onset of colonialisation in Australia, there is disruption, and displacement of Aborginal and Torres Strait Island People.

Pre 1770

Before colonisation

For thousands of years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander societies develop their network of diverse cultures with separate laws and ceremonial traditions, home country, Dreamings and languages.