History of the Bouverie Centre

We have a long history of making a difference for families. Learn more about the history of our Centre.

The Bouverie Centre (first known as The Collins Street Clinic) was originally established as a clinical mental health service for children and adolescents, in Collins Street, Melbourne. In 1956, the Centre was renamed The Bouverie Clinic following our relocation to Bouverie Street, Carlton.

We transitioned from a child psychiatric clinic to the first family therapy centre in Australia. This major change was inspired by the Superintendent of the day, Dr Geoff Goding, who developed the idea after attending the first international conference in family therapy in Greece, and taking part in a workshop run by Walter Kempler, a Gestalt Family Therapist.

Even before family therapy was recognised as a clinical therapeutic framework, we involved the entire family, including fathers, for up to 4 sessions, which was seen as socially radical at the time.

Geoff and a small dedicated group of social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists from our Centre were enthusiastic about understanding and working from a framework that privileged working with the whole family. A visit to our Centre by internationally acclaimed structural family therapist, Dr Salvador Minuchin (USA) in 1976 became the symbolic point at which we became a family therapy centre. Minuchin encouraged our Centre to develop a formal family therapy training program.

Our Centre continued with a family focused approach to helping children and adults with difficulties and began offering a two-year training program in family therapy, supported by the State government. In 1981, the program became formally known as the Mental Health Division Training Program in Family Therapy.

We moved to Parkville and was renamed the Bouverie Family Therapy Centre.

Due to our proximity to the institute and the involvement of key Bouverie alumni, the centre’s professional development courses were offered through the Occupational Therapy Department at the Lincoln Institute.

Lincoln Institute merged with La Trobe University, and a historic agreement was made between the University and the Victorian Government to locate the postgraduate award course (in family therapy) in a clinical public mental health service – making the Graduate Diploma of Family Therapy the first university qualification in family therapy to be offered in the southern hemisphere.

La Trobe University took over the management of our Centre from the Mental Health Branch of the Victorian Department of Human Services, and added the subtitle Victoria’s Family Institute to Bouverie’s name.

The range of clinical academic courses offered by our Centre expanded to include the centre’s flagship program, Master in Clinical Family Therapy.

During 1996 to 1998, Bouverie conducted a major state-wide training and service development initiative (Get Together FaST) across Child and Adolescent, Adult and Aged Mental Health Services which helped put the concept of Family Sensitive Practice on the Victorian Mental Health Services agenda and into state government policy. This type of work has continued over the years, with our Centre now offering a range of services to agencies designed to support the implementation of family sensitive approaches to care at an organisational level.

We have, and continue to, establish workforce training and development projects with a number of Victorian state-wide services, such as Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Community Health Counselling, and Gambler’s Help Services, thus building a practical knowledge base around effective ways to assist organisations to implement practice change across a wide range of services.

After occupying four different sites (Collins Street, City 1956 - 1960s, Bouverie Street, Carlton 1960s - 1983, Parkville 1984 - 1996, Flemington Street, Flemington 1996 - 2007), we moved into a $5 million (2007 value), state government funded, purpose-built building in Gardiner Street, Brunswick.

The building was officially opened in 2008 by Sylvia Walton AO, the then Chancellor of La Trobe University, and more currently, the President of The Bouverie Centre’s Advisory Board.

We began delivering the now nationally recognised Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Workers.

We are recognised as a research centre within the School of Psychology and Public Health at La Trobe University and continue to articulate its fully integrated practice-research model.

We now have over 40 staff, with staff typically working across a number of different service areas including:

  • Direct clinical services in family therapy
  • Workforce development; helping services build family sensitive cultures and deliver family inclusive practices.
  • Academic award courses, including mainstream and specialist Indigenous courses
  • Professional development  including online, face-to-face in person and blended workshops and courses
  • Research and evaluation in relational health, including a vibrant PhD program.