Australian Women's Register

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Sutherland, Selina Murray Macdonald (1839 - 1909)

2010 Victorian Honour Roll of Women

26 December 1839
Parish of Kildonnel, Sutherland, Scotland
8 October 1909
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Philanthropist, Nurse and Welfare worker


Selina (also spelt Sulina) Sutherland was the first person in the State of Victoria to be licensed under the 1887 Neglected Children's Act. The Act sanctioned private licensed individuals to remove children from unfit homes and take them under their own guardianship. The daughter of Baigrie and Janet (née MacDonald) Sutherland, Selina Sutherland was born in Scotland, spent some time in New Zealand before settling in Melbourne, Australia, in 1881. Initially she worked as a nurse and, along with Mrs Maria Armour, founded the Scots' Church Neglected Children's Aid Society in 1881. For the next 28 years Sutherland was involved with helping Melbourne's poor. Following her death on 8 October 1909 a public appeal was held to erected a granite memorial for her grave.



28 August 1864
Emigrated to New Zealand on the Eastern Empire
Principal founder of Masterton Hospital
1879 - December 1880
Matron of Wellington Hospital
Settled in Melbourne, Victoria
March 1883
Established the Society in Aid of Maternity Hospital Patients
17 February 1885
Founded the Melbourne District Nursing Society
May 1886
Appointed by the Presbytery of Melbourne the first Lady Missionary to the Presbyterian Churches in Victoria
The first person to be appointed in Victoria to receive children under the Neglected Children's Act, part 8
Wrote a paper on slum life in Melbourne for the second Australasian Conference on Charity
Interrupted a meeting of the Melbourne Ladies' Benevolent Society, with a group of poor people whose needs she felt the Society was failing to meet.
Established the Presbyterian Neglected Children's Aid Society
Established the Victorian Neglected Children's Aid Society
Visited the United Kingdom during the Queen Victoria's Diamond Jublee and presented to Queen Victoria
Inducted onto Victorian Honour Roll of Women

Sources used to compile this entry: Hilton, Della, 1931-, Selina's legacy: from VCAS to Oz Child, Oz Child-Children Australia, Oakleigh, Vic., 1993, 184 pp; Johns, Fred, John's Notable Australians, 1906, George Robertson & Company Proprietary Limited, Adelaide, 1905, 218 pp; Swain, Shurlee, 'Selina Sutherland: Child Rescuer', in Lake, Marilyn and Kelly, Farley (eds), Double time : women in Victoria - 150 years, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic., 1985, pp. 109-116.

Related entries

Archival resources

State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection

  • Victorian Children's Aid Society records, 1893 - 1976, MS 10051, Boxes 1-53.; Victorian Children's Aid Society (1893 - 1991); State Library of Victoria, Australian Manuscripts Collection. Details

Anne Heywood

Site-wide information and acknowledgements

National Foundation for Australian Women The University of Melbourne, eScholarship Research Centre

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