Posted by John Lynch
Glenys Grant OAM and Kay Edwards presented the history of Burwood Boys Home (now called bestchance). Glenys has written a book, published in November 2016 which documents the 120 year journey from Burwood Boys Home to bestchance Child Family Care.
In 1895, Mr. Robert Campbell Edwards, a prosperous Irish-born, tea-merchant, having great concern about the number of children living on the streets of Melbourne, founded and built the Burwood Boys’ Home. His admirable philosophy was that ‘no truly destitute boy would ever be turned away’. To achieve his goals, he took advantage of a ‘buyer’s market’ by purchasing a choice parcel of real estate in Warrigal Road, Burwood and promptly erected a fairly substantial wooden house – all for the princely sum of £500.
A flourishing market garden was cultivated, surplus goods sold and the money used to cover other expenses. Further savings were made by raising dairy cows enabling the home to produce its own milk supply. From the age of 14, the children participated in working the land and gained extensive experience in the area, which led to many securing paid positions as farmers or dairymen upon leaving the Home. Those who did not were encouraged and supported in their learning of a trade.
Girls were first admitted to the Home in 1972, which necessitated the name change from Burwood Boys’ Home to Burwood Children’s Home. In the 1980’s, the government revamped its social welfare policy with an increase in benefits to many families. As a result many children, who might otherwise have been placed in care, were able to be supported in their own homes or fostered in private homes which eliminated the need for institutions.
In 1986, after operating for more than 90 years, the Home closed its doors and the Burwood property was sold. The organisation then underwent a name change to Child and Family Care Network Inc. and relocated to Glen Waverley.
The late Glen Quantrelle was a Past President and Paul Harris Fellow of our Club. He was a life governor of the Child and Family Care Network. In the 1990s, our Club funded the building of two Homes for Homeless Youth in association with the Network.