A journey of hope and resilience: safeguarding children for 120 years

On a bitterly cold winter's evening, Katherine and I headed to the warm and opulent surrounds of the Regent Theatre to celebrate 120 years of the Children's Protection Society (CPS). Way Back When has been working with CPS to produce a book and a website to explore the story of the development of the society, its ground-breaking work with families and its contributions to the child protection system in Victoria. The book, A journey of hope and resilience: safeguarding children for 120 years, was launched by Minister for Families & Children and Youth Affairs, The Hon. Jenny Mikakos on Wednesday 13 July. Professor Dorothy Scott OAM, who was on the steering committee for the project, gave a fascinating and inspiring speech on the evolution of child welfare services in Australia, and the part CPS has played and continues to play. 

The Hon. Jenny Mikakos (centre)

The Hon. Jenny Mikakos (centre)

Professor Dorothy Scott OAM

Professor Dorothy Scott OAM

Gathering to celebrate 120 years of CPS

Gathering to celebrate 120 years of CPS

CPS President Jane Munro AM and CEO Aileen Asford

CPS President Jane Munro AM and CEO Aileen Asford

The society was born on a Saturday morning in 1896, when a group of Melbourne’s most influential dignitaries and charity workers gathered at Government House with the intention of forming a group aimed at protecting children from cruelty and neglect. Led by Lady Sybil de Vere Brassey, wife of the Governor of Victoria, this meeting resulted in the formation of the Victorian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty and Neglect of Children (VSPCC). Over the past 120 years the society has provided services for children in need. It has faced constant challenges with passion and commitment, and remained steadfast in its support for families and children throughout Victoria.

An early VSPCC executive committee. Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library Victoria, MS 10384

An early VSPCC executive committee.
Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library Victoria, MS 10384

Unfortunately Lucy and Sarah couldn't be at the launch, and were greatly missed! As always, this project was very much a team effort.

It was an honour to work with CPS on documenting and celebrating its history, and to tell the story of such a long-running and important organisation. We're looking forward to working further with them on a website, which will feature audio documentaries using the oral history interviews we conducted with current and former staff as part of this project. 

You can read more about the launch on the CPS website.

Fiona Poulton