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Home page - Brotherhood timeline

Page history last edited by Social Policy Library 2 months ago

Welcome to The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) Timeline


This timeline represents one approach to the history[1] of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Originally created by Michael Wilson, additions to this timeline have been continued by staff and volunteers from the BSL Social Policy Library.  We welcome your input and comment. 


Brief overview of the early Brotherhood of St Laurence


The Brotherhood of St Laurence was founded on 8 December 1930 in the Anglican parish church of St Stephen in Adamstown, an industrial suburb of Newcastle. Its founder, Melbourne-born Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker, dreamed of building a dedicated group of like-minded men who would serve the church and the community.


The Brotherhood was established as a religious order of the Anglican Church, with members including priests and lay brothers.


In 1933 the Brotherhood of St Laurence accepted the invitation of Father Maynard of St Peter’s Church Eastern Hill (who gained the approval of the Archbishop of Melbourne), and moved to St Mary's Mission in Fitzroy to help the poor in that neighbourhood. Young men who wished to serve others in the name of Christ came together as a community at St Mary’s and attended lectures at St Peter’s. They lived simply, studied, prayed and helped with social welfare activities.


At the height of the Great Depression, when some 30 per cent of the workforce were without jobs, the Brotherhood became more actively involved in helping the unemployed. Several hostels were set up to provide accommodation for homeless unemployed men and boys; and a settlement at Carrum Downs gave some men and their families simple shelter and a place to produce some of their own food.


After the 1939–45 War, much to Father Tucker’s disappointment, there was little interest in expanding the Brotherhood as a religious order. The last new member was admitted in 1944 and from 1947 till his death in 1974, Father Tucker himself was the sole remaining member.


While the religious order did not survive, the welfare work of the Brotherhood continued and expanded under Father Tucker’s leadership. In 1971, the Brotherhood of St Laurence was incorporated by a Victorian Act of Parliament. [2]


See below for more information about the Brotherhood of St Laurence


Through the decades


Since its inception in the early 1930s the Brotherhood has worked tirelessly to meet the needs of its disadvantaged community.  This section covers all decades from the 1930s - 2000s, with some decades broken up into one page per year (i.e 1960, 1961, 1962 - 1969). Each chronological period is then broken up into various categories.[3] 



Service areas


An overview of the main areas of work that the Brotherhood has been involved with, including Children and Families; Young people; Older people; Community development, Housing and more.  This section also contains links to various campaigns, such as the abolition of slums and poverty. 





Past staff (including Clergy, Board members, Executive members etc.), clients and volunteers - anyone of note who has helped those in need whilst working at the Brotherhood.  This list is not comprehensive.






A geographical overview of Brotherhood activities 


Presentations and Publications 




Histories of the Brotherhood, other books, reports (including Annual Reports and Research reports), newsletters,  films, and the Sambell Oration.





Information about the organisational structure over time, leaders, organisational governance history and tracks the growth in maturity and complexity of the Brotherhood of St Laurence. 


There are links to documents, photos and web pages.  New material is being added each week across all areas, so do visit us again.


Note for researchers


This information in this website has been drawn from resources accessible at the time and should be treated as only part of the story and a pointer for further research.  For contemporary material see www.bsl.org.au .  


Sources which have not yet been fully consulted include the following BSL papers and publications:


  • Archived papers of David Scott and Peter Hollingworth at the State Library of Victoria
  • Archived papers of the "Promise the Children" project (BSL archive)
  • Published BSL Research including reports and submissions
  • Electronic archives of former & current BSL staff



And the following staff newsletters:

  • BSL Staff Bulletin, July 1952 - March 1975
  • Brotherhood Bulletin, June 1975 - March 1976
  • Brotherhood News, May 1976 - June 1978
  • Brotherhood Bulletin, July 1978 - June 1981 
  • Brotherhood News, October 1981 - March 1987
  • BSL Exchange, October 1987 - April 1989 
  • Fitz-News, February 1991- July 1996 
  • Brotherhood Staff Link, July 1996 - June 2001 
  • In the Hood, March 2002 - November 2012



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  1. "History is a genuine depiction of the past, but it can never be completely genuine. History is a mirror which reflects the present, and the future as well." General Liu Yuan, in a preface to 'Changing Our View of History and Culture' (2011) cited by John Garnaut in "China's party princelings fight for a chance to go back to the future", Sydney Morning Herald, 24 May 2011.
  2. The Brotherhood of St Laurence Incorporation Act (1971) - Act No. 8188/1971 - came into force on 30 November 1971
  3. Information in the "Decades" pages is arranged under headings including: Children & Families; Community Developments; Employment & Training; Fundraising & Resources; Material & Financial Support; Older People; Organisational aspects (BSL); People; People with disabilities; Presentations & Publications; Refugees & Settlement; Research and Policy and Young People

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