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Marymead empowers children, young people and families to thrive

Marymead, a well-respected, not-for-profit organisation servicing the ACT and southern and western regional areas of NSW, has been delivering a range of high quality, family support services to children, young people and their families since 1967. With offices in Canberra and in NSW at Goulburn, Moruya, Young and Wagga Wagga, Marymead’s array of programs and services include child and family counselling, early intervention programs, Permanency Program (out-of-home care), post separation support, the Autism Centre, parent education groups, family and mental health support programs and contact and changeover services for separated parents in significant conflict.

Marymead also offers innovative, person-centred support services for people with disability and their families. These services may be purchased through funds received under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and include short term accommodation, after-school care and school holiday programs, skills development, recreation groups and in-home support.


Marymead works to ensure that children, young people and their families, including those who are most vulnerable across Canberra and the surrounding NSW regions, are well supported through their key life transitions and are able to achieve positive life outcomes and live fulfilling, productive and happy lives.


Marymead works with children, young people (aged 25 years or less) and their families, to address the complex issues that surround them and affect their lives. We provide specialist, early intervention, clinical therapeutic services and support programs and services.


Marymead was established in 1967 by the Catholic religious order, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. The sisters identified the need for a residential care facility for children and families in temporary crisis.

After successfully lobbying Government for financial assistance, Marymead was born. The name Marymead comes from the word ‘meadow’ (or more from its archaic or poetic form ‘mead’) and the devoted and tireless Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

Whilst the word ‘meadow’ conjures up visions of cool and fresh green pastures near clear and running streams, in this instance it referred to an eleven acre paddock in Narrabundah ACT, a pasture for sheep, transformed into the meadow of Mary, Marymead. Marymead’s primary function was to welcome children of all races and religions who required care. The care afforded could only be temporary but it was enough to meet the aim of those who founded Mary’s meadow.

old sign black and white

Children were admitted in various times of crisis including distress following accidents or sudden illness, poverty, a mother and / or father hospitalised, a family break up, disruption of the home, child abuse or neglect. Children were either placed voluntarily by parents or referred by welfare or health officials. Occasionally the police would also bring children to Marymead at night or over the weekend if a sudden emergency arose.

The children were housed in one of six cottages each containing five bedrooms with a capacity for 10 children. Four bedrooms were occupied by the children with the fifth bedroom being part of the self-contained unit within the home for the ‘house mother’. A convent was also constructed on the site that included a refectory and rooms for the sisters, interviewing rooms, a chapel, kitchen and laundry. The sisters provided a range of services to local families up until their departure in 1986. After this the responsibility for Marymead was assumed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn as it remains today.

black and white photo of marymead worker in the past
lady helen deane
Our Patron, Lady Helen Deane

Lady Deane, wife of former Governor-General and High Court Justice, Sir William Deane, practised as a solicitor with Freehill Hollingdale and Page following her graduation in law at Sydney University. Lady Deane is also the Patron of the Greater Good Foundation, Mercy Works Inc. and Youth Off The Streets. Lady Deane has been a long time supporter of Marymead and our Auxiliary and we are honoured to have her as our Patron.