In May 1868, on the site where Bethany Community Support’s Hamlyn Heights office now stands, the organisation opened its doors for the first time. Known as the Geelong Female Refuge, the centre was established to provide refuge and rehabilitation to the poor women of Geelong.

As political, social and economic trends changed over the next 150 years, so did the needs of the community. Throughout its history, Bethany has responded to these changes, operating in a number of functions including as:

  • a babies’ home
  • an adoption agency
  • a mothercraft training centre
  • a kindergarten services provider, and
  • a day care service.

Since the 1970s, Bethany has operated as a community services organisation, supporting local people experiencing personal hardship. Today, our vision is to be a recognised leader in providing services that work in new ways to support children, families and individuals to be the best they can, develop secure relationships and participate in their community.

In 2017, Bethany Kindergarten Services (formerly Geelong Kindergarten Association) commenced operation as part of the Bethany group of services. Bethany Kindergarten Services operates 22 kindergartens, delivering quality early childhood education programs for local children, enhanced by access to a range of support services for kindergarten children and families.

Two books have been published on the history of Bethany, both of which are available for purchase:

A Refuge at Kildare – the history of The Geelong Female Refuge and Bethany Babies’ Home by Shurlee Swain

Bethany Serving the Community, a Social History 1977-2007 by Susan Kruss

Please contact us on (03) 5278 8122 if you would like to purchase a copy.

In 2018, Bethany celebrated 150 years of operation in Geelong. In honour of the incredible milestone we produced a timeline video to provide a visual history of the Bethany story:

Timeline Video WEB from Bethany Community Support on Vimeo.