Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877)

Caroline Chisholm arrived in 1838 in the colony of New South Wales, where she was appalled at the conditions that greeted poor and vulnerable women migrants.  Aged just 30, Chisholm commenced working on improving the women’s lot, setting up job schemes and campaigning for better working conditions. 

In 1841, she established the Female Emigrant’s Home in Sydney which not only provided shelter but helped unemployed young women find work both in the city and in rural areas where work was more plentiful. 

She worked on improving conditions on the ships and arranged for the families of convicts to be transported free to Australia so they could be reunited with their loved ones.  In order to foster independence and resilience among these new arrivals, she established the Family Colonisation Loan Society, a version of which still operates successfully today.

Moving her focus to Victoria in the 1850s, Chisholm successfully lobbied the government here to set up shelters along the roads to meet the demand for adequate accommodation prompted by rush to the goldfields of Ballarat and Bendigo.

Chisholm’s work in the early days of the colonies has continued to be celebrated and commemorated in Australia, with her face adorning a collection of stamps and appearing on the original $5 bank note. In 1994, she was posthumously awarded the Order of Australia.

Chisholm Institute proudly bears the name of this Australian civil rights pioneer whose practical approach echoes the vocational role of the VET sector and the committed individuals and organisations who work in Chisholm Institute’s sphere of influence.

The foundation strives to continue Caroline Chisholm’s legacy of social justice by recognising and acting on the need to assist those adversely affected in accessing education in the community.