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Through the decades: 1990

Page history last edited by Social Policy Library 1 month, 2 weeks ago


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60 Years of the Brotherhood


Children & Families 

In 1990, as part of the ‘Promise the Children’ - Action on Child Poverty campaign an Australia-wide campaign for postcards registering concern for child poverty brought twenty-six thousand in response. These were presented in May to Prime Minister Bob Hawke who was more than displeased to be reminded of his 1987 promise that “no child shall live in poverty by 1990” (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1990 p.13).    Promise_the_Children_Campaign_Postcard_1990.pdf   Hollingworth_re_Hawke_&_child_poverty.pdf  (See also http://tinyurl.com/2d5fglv for the Hansard record of Questions without Notice asked of the Prime Minister on 13 November 1990)


McDonalds agreed to use its tray mats in Victorian stores to support the BSL’s Promise the Children campaign initiative to promote the Federal Government’s Family Allowance Supplement (its effectiveness was seen in Department of Social Security reports of 80 calls a day from women and men) (Brotherhood Action Spring 1990 p.6; BSL Annual Report 1990 p.12)  


Life Chances of Children longitudinal study began following the lives of babies born in 1990/91 to very diverse families, including high and low-income families and a range of ethnic groups.  This unique longitudinal study explores the impacts of family income and associated social and economic factors on the lives of children over time.  The study began with 167 children born in inner Melbourne in 1990 and has followed them and their families since.  The Life Chances Study has reached a wide audience including policy makers, service planners, academics, social workers & educators. (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.16. Tim Gilley was the initial researcher on the project, along with Janet Taylor who continued with the study to 2010 (and beyond).


(One hundred-and-twenty-three participants were revisited In 2012 when they reached 21 years of age.  Stage 10 of the study surveyed 123 young people and their parents to see how they were dealing with the important transitions towards adulthood and 25 were interviewed to explore their situations in more depth.  See TaylorBorlagdanAllan_Turning_21_life_chances_2012.pdf ) (For an overview of the study from 1990 to 2013 see publication: Now we are 21)


A member of the Brotherhood's Family Services Development Unit (Judith Lees) was seconded one-and-a-half days per week over four months to offer family counselling at the Mill Park Community House.  The aim was to assess the problems in that area and to compare the needs with neighbouring Lalor where the Whittlesea Family Services were located (Brotherhood Action Summer 1989/90 pp.1 & 3.).   


Following preliminary studies of service needs in Melbourne’s outer regions - Werribee, Laverton, Melton, Bacchus Marsh, Shires of Bulla/Whittlesea - BSL’s Family Services Development Unit expressed the intention to establish child care services where most appropriate. (Letter from Donna Ward - Manager, Family Services Development Unit - to Ms Dayle Kalve, Program Advisor, Commonwealth/State Child Care program, Community Services Victoria re funding guidelines for Occasional Child Care in Neighbourhood Settings).      Ward_to_Kalve_re_Plans_re_OccasionalChildCare_1990-6-5.pdf


As part of BSL’s Bulla Family Services (later known as Northern Family Services), Craigieburn Family Services Centre opened on 20th September in Shop 31, Craigieburn Shopping Centre (upstairs) with one full-time Coordinator offering counselling for individuals & families and emergency relief, and with two part-time “Community Teachers” operating a Homework program.  (Later the service moved to a rented 3-bedroom house in the area and eventually into the purpose-built centre in Hothlyn Drive. See footnote for intention of BSL in establishing this service.) (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991, p.1; Brotherhood Action Winter 1991, p.4; BSL Annual Report 1991 p.9.  See also BSL Metro Region Strategic Planning Working paper p.53 and Memo from Philip Perry - Family Services - to Bruce Ellis 4 September 1990 re purchase of Apple computers for Homework Program )  Craigieburn Familiy Services invitation to opening day


Community Issues 

The community served by the BSL’s Barwon Region was particularly affected by the collapse in June 1990 of the Pyramid Building Society, the Geelong Building Society and the Countrywide Building Society which together made up the Farrow Group of building societies, based in Geelong, Australia. They collapsed with debts in excess of $2 billion. The cost of the collapse to the Victoria taxpayers was estimated at over $900 million, causing a fuel levy of 3c-per-litre to be introduced by the Victorian government to recover funds. The levy remained in force for five years (See Appendix 4.2: "Financial institution failures in Australia — some case studies" in the "Davis Report" into the system of financial system guarantees, commissioned by the Federal Government in September 2003.  The document is available at <http://fsgstudy.treasury.gov.au/content/davis_report.asp>8 Feb 2010.). 


Students in the Bachelor of Education course at (the then) Footscray Institute of Technology and Victoria College were offered the Brotherhood-inspired Poverty and Education option as their major course of study.  The brainchild of the BSL's Education Coordinator (Basil Varghese), the course covered child poverty, housing, education and social justice strategies for the classroom, along with hands-on work experience in the Brotherhood's Material Aid centre (Brotherhood Action Winter 1990 p.6). 


The Ballarat Employment Action Centre established local employment generation initiatives:

  • Pixie Property Maintenance, supported by local Apex, Lions and Rotary groups.  It provided paid work experience (in cleaning, gardening and odd job services) to disadvantaged young people as a step towards full employment as well as accepting young people with court contact referred by other local agencies.
  • Small Business Support Service offering office support, employing course graduates awaiting full employment (BSL Annual Plan 1991 p.6). 


The Active Placement Unit (APU) was established in the Fitzroy Employment Action Centre to provide a mentor program for unemployed young people.  One-third of the 60 participants in the first year were homeless (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.7).   


Fundraising & Resources 

Responsibility for Viking Paper taken over by the Donated Goods Division (April)


The Brotherhood patented a design for a square pallet constructed from recycled cardboard.  However the pallet was not commercially produced due to the cost involved (Designed by Brian Manuell, Manager of the Paper Recycling Division (then at 68-70 Albert Street, Preston). Certificate of registration of a design No. 107793 – Initial registration from 5 June 1990.).  

Change in management and operations at the Donated Goods Division (June) (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.7) 


The first Brotherhood Blanket Appeal in May 1990 (Fitzroy & Frankston) received 2000 blankets and over $6,000 in donations (BSL Annual Report 1990 p.9; Brotherhood Action Winter 1990 p.1 & Spring 1990 p.3)  


A special Diamond Jubilee raffle was conducted to raise money for the Frankston and Fitzroy Material Aid Services and the Ballarat and Fitzroy Employment Action Centres, raising $66,418 additional net income.  Another car raffle had been held earlier in the year in aid of the BSL’s Action on Child Poverty campaign (Brotherhood Action Spring 1990 p.4; Autumn 1991 p.4; BSL Annual Report 1991 p.19).


The Hollingworth Trust Collection was launched - a series of limited edition prints donated by the artists Charles Blackman, Michael Leunig and Anita Laurence.  Publicity for the launch in The Age generated $13,000 for the Trust (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.3; BSL Annual Report 1991 p.22.  The works were "The Journey" by Charles Blackman, "The Family" by Michael Leunig and "The Home" by Anita Laurence).. 


Brotherhood shops opened in Melton (the Market Plaza Shopping Centre)  & Sunbury (Evans Street Arcade), bringing the total to 27 shops.


A Volunteers Day was held at Lara in October, with 200 attending the 34th annual combined auxiliaries and volunteers meeting.  The total income from shops and auxiliaries for 1989-1990 was $1,248,305 (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.4)  


Mr Ted Todd, proprietor of the Genius Camera Store and founder of the Ted’s Camera Store chain, nominated the BSL, Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Conservation Foundation as recipients to a trust which was to share 25% of his company’s profits (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.6).  


Observation City Resort Hotel in Perth elected to sponsor the Brotherhood as its nominated Victorian charity, with a donation of toys for the Christmas Toy Appeal.   A community service announcement for the appeal was recorded by television personality Jo Pearson.  Individuals, schools, Trusts and private business raised a total of $55,687.52, along with 900 direct donations of toys (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.2; Autumn 1991 p.6).  


The Ross Trust donated $28,000 which provided toys for the Christmas Toy Appeal, food vouchers and tickets to the cinema and to the Melbourne Zoo, all of which were distributed by the Material Aid service.  The funds also provided a  Christmas lunch and gift for pensioners in the Coolibah Centre (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1991 p.5).   


Organisational aspects (BSL) 

OrgChart_BSL1990-10.pdf   OrgChart_BSL_1990.pdf  BSL_update_Head-Office_&_Metro_1990-11-27.pdf   BSL_Staff_Handbook_1990-1991.pdf


1989-1990 Overview - BSL's Family Services grew from 3% of budget to 20% with establishment of the Family Services Development Fund and operated in 4 regions - Whittlesea/Bulla, Werribee/Melton/Bacchus Marsh, Cranbourne & Flinders, Collingwood/Richmond/Fitzroy (Memo from Donna Ward to John Wise re Annual Report items (26 April 1990).      Ward_to_Wise_re_Family_Services_Growth_1990-4-26.pdf


Following the appointment of a Staff Development Officer in 1989, internal training programs and access to further study outside the organisation were focused on enhancing the existing skills of staff to assist them in carrying out their tasks (BSL Annual Report 1990 p.16). 


Bishop Peter Hollingworth, elected as Archbishop of Brisbane, resigned as Executive Director after 25 years at the BSL.  He was enthroned on March 22 and the official farewell took place in Wilson Hall, University of Melbourne, on 1 April.  Bill Ford took up the role of Acting Executive Director from March 13 until the Bishop Michael Challen began as Executive Director on 1 February 1991 (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1990; Brotherhood Action Spring 1990). 


The appointment of Bishop Michael Challen AM as incoming Executive Director of the Brotherhood was announced in August, to take up the position in January 1991 (Brotherhood Action Spring 1990 p.1).


The Human Resources Department published a Staff Handbook (for staff and volunteers)  


The Metropolitan Division was restructured in October to create a Metropolitan Region (for the delivery of services) and a separate head office function.  This restructuring resulted in the retrenchment of 10 staff (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.23). 


BSL Head Office restructured - directorates of Income & Business Development and Planning & Development abolished, with duties devolved to other parts of the BSL and 2 Directors left the BSL; Community Services directorate abolished & its duties absorbed into the Metropolitan Region (Memo from Bill Ford to all staff (24 October 1990).   BSL_Staff_Briefing_re_Changes_1990-10-24.pdf


BSL Aged Care Managers took part in a workshop run by Rob Nicholls, the then Director of Wesley Central Mission.  The responses related to their assumptions and their impact on service delivery.  The workshop was delivered as part of the Quality of Life education program that was compulsory for all aged care staff and those other staff who were in contact with ageing people in their day-to-day work (eg Accounts, Maintenance etc). BSL_Aged_Care_Managers_Workshop_Responses_1990-9-25.pdf


The Revd Andrew Curnow was elected Chair of the BSL Board in November, replacing the Revd Andrew St John who retired from the Board after 13 years of service (Brotherhood Action Summer 1990 p.5).  


BSL Board resolved in November:

a)    to establish a new region (called Metropolitan) to encompass all programs not included in either the Peninsula or Geelong Regions and to be launched on 19 December; (Memo from John Wise to Senior Staff and Project Supervisors (15 November 1990) 

b)    that representatives of the Geelong & Peninsula Regional Committees join the Board, with existing Board member to represent the Metropolitan Region;

c)    not to continue with staff elected representatives on the Board;

d)    that the current titles of Director be changed to Regional Manager except for the Executive Director;

e)    that Social Policy & Research be described as a department rather than a centre. (Memo from Bill Ford to all staff (27 November 1990)  BSL_Metro_Region_established_1990-12-19.pdf


Financial crisis led to the departure of several staff and cessation of the Family Services Development Unit (which also had management responsibility for Napier Street Cottage and Craigieburn) (November)


BSL celebrated the Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary) of Foundation on 8 December 1930


As part of the Brotherhood's Diamond Jubilee (60th Anniversary), a late afternoon reception was held at Government House, Melbourne, in November, hosted by Governor & Mrs McCaughey.  Attended by 140 volunteers, staff and donors, it was also an occasion to thank, in particular, volunteers with 20 years or more service (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.23).  



Father E.T. Selwyn Reynolds, one of the original Brothers of the Brotherhood died at the G.K. Tucker Settlement, Carrum Downs.  A memorial service was held at Carrum Downs in January 1991 (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1991 p.4; Ben Bennett, "GK Tucker Settlement - An historical record 1935-1995: 60 years with the Brotherhood of St Laurence at Carrum Downs", Limited Edition, p.64-66 .   Obit_Selwyn_Reynolds_1990-1.pdf


Archbishop Peter Hollingworth enthroned as Archbishop of Brisbane (22 March 1990)


Professor Ronald Henderson retired from his volunteer work at the Brotherhood (BSL Annual Report 1990 p.11). 


Bill Ford left the Brotherhood at the end of 1990 after 12 years, having been Director of Income & Business Development and additionally Acting Executive Director in the interim between Archbishop Peter Hollingworth's departure and Bishop Challen's appointment (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1991 p.6).    


People with disabilities 

The Disability Access Support Unit (DASU) was formed to help the 10% of the Employment Action Centre clients who had psychiatric, intellectual or physical impairments restricting their job opportunities.  The program, funded by the Department of Employment, Education and Training, was designed to help them with appropriate skills to obtain and retain paid employment.  (This became a statewide program in 1991 - see below.) (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.7) 


From June 1990 the G K Tucker Settlement developed and implemented the policy of providing access to accommodation for people with physical and intellectual disabilities, with a 5% target (BSL Annual Report 1991 p.13).  


Presentations & Publications 

In February the Executive Director, Peter Hollingworth, addressed the National Press Club, calling for a non-partisan approach to the question of child and family poverty (Brotherhood Action Autumn 1990 pp.16 & 14)    Hollingworth_NationalPressClub_1990-2.pdf


The 10th Sambell Oration Renewing the Commonwealth was delivered by the Hon. Brian Howe (then Federal Minister for Community Services & Health) at the Diamond Jubilee Foundation Festival in Christ Church, South Yarra, marking the 60th anniversary of Gerard Tucker’s founding of the Brotherhood (2 December) (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.6). 


Publications included:


Young People 

BSL contributed $2,000 to the Young People’s Health Service (Flinders Lane, Melbourne) to support a part-time Project Officer position (Letter from John Wise to Mark Searle, Young People’s Health Service (15 March 1990)  Wise_to_Searle_re_Funding_YoungPeoplesHealthService_1990-3-15.pdf


BSL, following an agreement in December 1989, supported a Youth Counsellor position with Whittlesea Family Services, a 2-year experimental early intervention scheme to stem youth homelessness for young people in the Whittlesea area (BSL provides $25,000 p.a.).  His role was to mediate in difficult situations where a complete breakdown in communications prevailed and to ensure any departure was not marred by aggression and violence from either the family of young person. Commonwealth funds were also made available for training courses in interpersonal skills for disadvantaged young people (BSL Annual report 1991 p.10.  See also Action Spring 1990 “Scheme to prevent homelessness” and letter from Donna Ward to Coordinator of Whittlesea Family Services (26 March 1990) .  

BSL_FamilyServices_in_City-of-Whittlesea_in_Action_Summer1989-90.pdf  Whittlesea_Youth_Homelessness_project_1990.pdf


Fitzroy Youth Music Program, an after school program, was established by George Katsikas, Mark & Penny Marcou and Kevin Edwardes as part of the Fitzroy Learning Network (auspiced & financially supported by the BSL).  By 1992 the program had won the Tattersall Award for Enterprise & Achievement and a commendation from VicHealth for the program’s work in health promotion (Brotherhood Action Spring 1990 p.4).  Ward_to_Katsikas_re_Proposal_FitzroyYouthMusicProgram_1989-12-20.pdf 


Establishment of the Homework program in Fitzroy for primary and secondary students, supported by two part-time trained teachers and the Fitzroy Library (Brotherhood Action Summer 1991 p.3; BSL Annual Report 1991 p.9. Homework_Program_Historical_data_1990-2007.pdf 



A stained glass window was commissioned for the Chapel at Carrum Downs, depicting the martyrdom of Saint Laurence.  This was designed by Alan Sumner, who although sharing the same surname, was not related to Jessica Sumner (formerly Welfare Worker at the Coolibah Centre) after whom Sumner House (Fitzroy) is named. 


Bibliography of Brotherhood of St. Laurence publications and papers: 60 years of documenting Australian poverty

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