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CatholicCare Victoria

Our History

Supporting local communities across Victoria

CatholicCare Victoria was born on 1 January 2021 when Centacare Ballarat, CatholicCare Melbourne/Gippsland and CatholicCare Sandhurst merged to form a united entity.

This merger is the first of its kind in Australia: whereby the social service agencies of all four Catholic dioceses throughout the State have come together as one.

On 24 March 2021, a Commissioning Mass was held for CatholicCare Victoria to celebrate the coming together of our agencies and to acknowledge the rich history of each region.

Photo: Bishops of Victoria signing the Transition Agreement for CatholicCare Victoria, Sale, 8 December 2020. Lisa Baker Photography

184 combined years of service

History in the Archdiocese of Melbourne

Our story began in 1935 when Australia’s first professionally qualified social workers - Norma Parker and Connie Moffit - recommended an integrated approach to working with families in need. The Catholic Social Services Bureau was established as a result, and it was the first of its kind in Australia.

Norma and Connie bravely challenged the practice of putting children in institutions. Thanks to them, with the right assistance and safety nets from the Bureau, children remained with their parents and siblings and families stayed intact.

The Bureau underwent several name changes, first to the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, then to Centacare Catholic Family Services in 1998, and finally to CatholicCare (Archdiocese of Melbourne) in 2011. Many new services have been brought to life throughout our 85+ year history, helping to support even more people in need within our communities.

History in the Diocese of Ballarat

Established in 1977 the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat opened Ballarat Diocesan Family Services Inc to provide social welfare and outreach services on behalf of the Ballarat Diocese.

In 1997 the organisation formally changed name to Centacare Catholic Diocese of Ballarat Inc. This reflected the organisation’s ties to the network of social welfare agencies across Australia who deliver social outreach services on behalf of the Catholic community. In 2016 the organisation’s structure changed to a company limited by guarantee.

History in the Diocese of Sandhurst

In 1983, Bishop Daly decided to establish a Family Welfare organisation within the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst to support communities living in Northeast, North and Central Victoria regions.

On 24 February 1986, that organisation opened its doors at 114 Hargreaves Street Bendigo under the name of Catholic Community and Family Services. This name was changed five years later to CentaCare in line with other Catholic Diocesan Family Welfare organisations throughout Australia. 

On 1 July 2014, CentaCare then became CatholicCare Sandhurst to better reflect our identity, values and mission.

History in the Diocese of Sale

In the 1980’s, The Catholic Family Welfare Bureau provided funding towards a counselling service in Gippsland. Later in 1996, Arda Tymensen was approached to provide a new counselling service in Warragul and surrounding areas. But it wasn’t until 1998 when Centacare Gippsland was officially born.

On 1 April 1999, Arda was appointed as Acting Director of Centacare Gippsland by Bishop Coffey, and she remained the only worker of the organisation for some time.

Over the following years, new Centacare services were introduced including Access Counselling for school staff, Pre-Marriage Education, the Personal Support program helping the unemployed find work, and the Volunteer Training program providing pastoral care education. In 2009 a Bushfire Recovery Support Service was also developed in response to the Black Saturday Bushfires.

In 2013, CatholicCare Archdiocese of Melbourne commenced management of Centacare Gippsland for the Diocese of Sale, and the range of services provided has since continued to grow.

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