Dr Thomas John Barnardo, the original founder, was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1845.
As a young man he moved to London to train as a doctor.
When he arrived, he was shocked to find children living in terrible conditions – one in five children died before their fifth birthday. When a cholera epidemic left many children orphaned, Dr Barnardo felt an urgent need to help. In 1870, Dr Barnardo opened his first home for boys.
To begin with, there was a limit to the number of boys who could stay there. But when an 11-year-old boy was found dead of malnutrition and exposure — just two days after being told the shelter was full – Dr Barnardo vowed never to turn another child away.
Dr Barnardo’s work was radical. The Victorians saw poverty as shameful, and the result of laziness or vice. But Dr Barnardo refused to discriminate between the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. He accepted all children, regardless of race, disability or circumstance. Dr Barnardo believed that every child deserved the best possible start in life, whatever their background.
This philosophy still guides us today. Barnardos Australia was incorporated in 1995 and still maintains its links to the Barnardos international family in the UK, Ireland and New Zealand. Today, we continue to support vulnerable children to recover and thrive.
We are here to empower every child to reach their full potential in life.