• Entry type: Organisation
  • Entry ID: AWE0500

Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society

(From 1845 – 1983)
  • Occupation Social support organisation


In response to the perceived needs of the ‘deserving poor’, the Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society (MLBS) began operations as the Presbyterian Female Visiting Society in August 1845. By 1851, it was known as the MLBS, and retained that name until 1964, when it became the Melbourne Ladies’ Welfare Society. The Society supplied food, clothing and other necessities to the respectable poor at home, particularly women in the Fitzroy and surrounding areas. The MLBS was acknowledged as Melbourne’s principal relieving agency and played a major role in dispensing social service benefits until the 1940s, when the Commonwealth Government assumed a greater responsibility for social welfare.

Published resources

  • Book
    • Women's work during fifty years in connection with the Melbourne Ladies' Benevolent Society,1845-1895, Melbourne Ladies' Benevolent Society, 1895
    • Women who helped pioneers: pages of Melbourne history that glow, Woinarski, G Zichy and Abbott, E. S., 1945
    • Single mothers and their children: disposal, punishment and survival in Australia, Swain, Shurlee and Howe, Renate, 1995
    • Deserted and destitute: motherhood, wife desertion and colonial welfare, Twomey, Christina, 2002
  • Report
    • Annual report, Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society, 1964
    • Annual report, Melbourne Ladies Welfare Society, 1965
  • Journal Article
    • Poor relief in Melbourne: the Benevolent Society's contribution, 1845-1893, Kennedy, Richard, 1974
  • Resource

Archival resources

  • State Library of Victoria
    • Minute books, 1850-1983. [manuscript]
  • Mitchell and Dixson Libraries Manuscripts Collection
    • Mrs R C Dunn addresses from the Melbourne Ladies Benevolent Society, November 1891, on the occasion of her resignation from the position of Honourable Treasurer

Related entries

  • Related Organisations
    • National Council of Women of Victoria (1902 - )
  • Member
    • Downing, Cecilia (1858 - 1952)
    • Dunn, Louisa
    • Zichy-Woinarski, Gertrude Mary (1874 - 1955)
  • President
    • Desailly, Frances Esme