The work of St Anthony’s was started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by the St Vincent de Paul Society in the inner city of Sydney. Two of their main initiatives were the care of abandoned children and young unmarried mothers. In the 1920s the St Vincent de Paul Society purchased a house at Petersham as a residence for pregnant girls and orphaned children. They soon outgrew these premises and the service was moved to the present location at Alexandra Avenue, Croydon.
Throughout the first half of the 20th century the demand for accommodation for unmarried mothers continued to grow and new buildings were erected on the site. At one stage there was a Mothercraft teaching facility for nurses as well as a maternity hospital on the Croydon site.
In 1952 the St Vincent de Paul Society handed over the site and the activities to the Sisters of St Joseph. When the need for accommodation for unmarried mothers began to decline in the latter part of the 20th century, the Sisters established other services such as a Special Preschool and Respite Services for children with disabilities. They also established a community based Long Day Care for local children, while still continuing to maintain a small Pregnancy Support Service. In addition to this they provided short term foster care for younger children, initially in a large residential setting, and later in smaller group homes. The last of the foster homes closed in 2003 when it was recognised that larger organisations, such as Centacare and Burnside, were more suited than St Anthony's to provide a professional and specialised foster home service.
Services currently include:
- Flexible Respite for children with disabilities
- Early Intervention services for children with disabilities
- Services for children with autism under the “Helping Children with Autism” package
- Early Learning Centre for children 0 to 5 years
- Support to Sudanese families & migrants
- Case Management / Family Support
- Mobile community development and support services
In 2004 St Anthony’s changed its name from St Anthony’s and St Joseph’s Centre of Care to St Anthony’s Family Care. This was a recognition of the need to provide services to families not only at a “Centre” but more importantly in their own community, and a part of a strategic plan to develop St Anthony’s services well beyond our site in the Inner West of Sydney. More importantly St Anthony’s is interested in developing new services in areas of identified need and in working in partnership with other agencies and organisations.