Abbotsford Convent receives highest heritage recognition in Australia

31 August 2017

L-R: Victoria Marles, Chair, Abbotsford Convent Foundation; The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP; Sr Monica Walsh, Province Leader, Sisters of the Good Shepherd; Sr Anne Dalton, Good Shepherd Sister; Dimity Fifer, CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand; Collette Brennan, CEO, Abbotsford Convent Foundation


Today, the Abbotsford Convent was officially added to Australia’s National Heritage List by the Minister for the Environment and Energy, The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.

“We're thrilled that the Abbotsford Convent has been formally recognised as a key part of Australia's history,” said Ms Dimity Fifer, CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.

Built by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 1863, in one of Melbourne’s poorest areas, the Convent provided shelter, food and education for young girls and women.

By the start of the 1900s, the Convent had become the largest charitable institution in the southern hemisphere and played a strong social welfare role in Australia.

“It became home to thousands of girls and women, often not of their choosing,” added Ms Fifer. “The precinct resonates with memories, good and bad, for all who were part of life at the Convent.

“We honour the memories and experiences of the Sisters, women, children and families who have a connection with the Convent.

“We acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd to build such a thriving precinct that could serve the community – and thank them for our rich heritage.”

Today the Abbotsford Convent is a not-for-profit arts, cultural and learning precinct owned and operated by the Abbotsford Convent Foundation. It is home to more than 100 arts and creative practitioners.

The Good Shepherd Chapel continues as a vibrant place open to all.

The Abbotsford Convent shares place and history with the First Peoples of this land, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.