Our Apology – Our Commitment

September 29, 2020

It is with sadness, shock and distress, that we have been advised that our organisation, operating historically under the name; Citizens Welfare Services of Victoria (CWS) has likely to have caused harm and abuse.

This has been devastating and confronting for the organisation and the staff, but this is incomparable to the abuse, harm and distress experienced by someone and all survivors and their families. We also want to acknowledge the strength and bravery of the survivor that has submitted an application, and to all survivors.

We offer this apology. We are sorry to any individuals that were harmed and to their families and loved ones. We are sorry to all survivors, this includes clients and their families, past and present, who we have worked with and trusted us.

Throughout our 133-year history of supporting communities, the organisation has evolved to respond to the community’s changing needs, to reflect broader societal changes and movements to ensure our services remained relevant to the very people we aim to support.

In 1887, the Charity Organisation Society of Melbourne was established. Thereafter renamed – Citizens Welfare Service of Victoria (CWS) in 1947, continuing under this banner until 1996, where it commenced operating as the Drummond Street Relationship Centre, and with our current operating name – drummond street services since 2010.

Having our own long history operating in a sector and part of a welfare system, which through the Royal Commission of Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse has showed the far reaching and shocking accounts of abuse, criminal behaviour, cover-ups and utter dereliction of a duty to care. We have seen and heard first-hand the lifelong impacts of trauma.

We have had the privilege of working alongside so many courageous survivors, their families and loved ones. We have supported survivor’s advocacy, amplified their voices, listened and learned from them and most importantly – believed them.

This includes having our Survivors Support Team with staff that have their own lived experiences of abuse and healing. Their guidance and knowledge, along with our clients and their families, has been essential as part of ensuring a safe, respectful and empowering service. Survivor’s stories, experiences, strength and healing continue to guide our behaviours now and into the future.

Our organisation at all levels; Board, management and staff, both professionally and personally are deeply connected and committed to supporting survivors in their pursuit of justice, accountability and healing, as always defined and led by the survivors themselves. We do this in the knowledge that for some of us, “they are us”.

We will ensure that the organisation takes all efforts to accept responsibility for this harm and be led and guided by survivors. Currently we are in the process of signing up to the National Redress Scheme as a participating institution. We also understand the importance for survivors to access records and historical documents and we are taking all steps to facilitate this access. We will also develop, to the best of our abilities, a transparent and trauma-informed restorative justice process for those who are unable to access the National Redress Scheme.

We will be undertaking these processes supported by, and in consultation, with survivors, as part of our sustained commitment to centering and valuing their voices.

We understand that survivor communities may look at our existing Support Service through a different lens, which may mean that we need to change how we offer support to survivors. What will never change – is our commitment to survivor justice and healing, and for organisations or institutions – no matter who or what they are – to sign up to the National Redress Scheme as soon as possible and to accept accountability and make real amends for survivors, their families and loved ones.

Further information on how to access information will continue to be updated on our website; www.ds.org.au/citizens -welfare-services-justice-healing you can contact us on cwsjustice@ds.org.au or on +61 3 8548 4970.

All of us at drummond street services again say sorry, for any and all harms and abuse. We believe you. We hear you. We make a commitment to compassion, healing and the work that needs to be done.

Our Response So Far

Historical Timeline & Documents

Drummond street services are currently undertaking the required steps to join the National Redress Scheme. Drummond Street Services, operating as Citizen’s Welfare Services of Victoria from 1947-2006, provided support to families through counselling and case work.  During 1956-1966 (approximately)  it operated a foster care placement program. It also operated a Hostel for Girls in Kew, Melbourne for approximately 10-14 young women each year during 1964-1967.

Citizen’s Welfare Services of Victoria (CWS) History - Key Dates

Submitting a Redress Application

For further information on submitting a application you can contact the National Redress Scheme directly on

1800 737 377 (M-F 8am-5pm AEST)


A person is eligible to apply if you:

  • experienced institutional child sexual abuse before 1 July 2018, and
  • are aged over 18 or will turn 18 before 30 June 2028, and
  • are an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and
  • are applying about an institution that has joined the National Redress Scheme, and
  • apply between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2027.

There are a number of funded Redress Support Services that can provide assistance for people considering applying and throughout the application process.  drummond street services is a funded support service and we continue to provide counselling, case support, information and referrals to survivors, their families and loved ones.  It is important for all survivors to feel safe, heard and have choices and we are committed to providing this.

Survivor Advisory Group

As drummond street is now progressing its sign-on as a Participating Institution under the National Redress Scheme (NRS), it is important that our decisions and approach in supporting survivors under the NRS is further guided by those with lived experience and survivors themselves.  We will establish a survivors advisory group to do this.  We expect this to be established later this year (Nov-Dec 2020).  Further information will be provided on this page and enquiries at cwsjustice@ds.org.au

Getting Access to CWS Records

We recognise the importance of records and documents both in terms of justice and redress, but also to help with the healing and recovery.

drummond street services is committed to facilitating access to any client or family members or loved ones who needs to access their records, including as a client of Citizens Welfare Service.

Citizens Welfare Service has a substantial archive, with many organisational records and client records safely and confidentially secured by the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA). This includes restricted access archives that require permission to access specific organisational records for research purposes and personal clients records. UMA are committed to support people to access their own records, and will work with DS to support access.

Find and Connect Support Services, can be contacted on 1800 16 11 09,  Freecall: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.  They can provide additional support for those wanting to research records.



Please make contact at cwsjustice@ds.org.au if you wish to make an enquiry.

Find and Connect web resource brings together historical resources relating to institutional ‘care’ in Australia. https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/

They also provide information and support on how to find records and connect with support groups and services in your state/territory.

They can be contacted on 1800 16 11 09,  Freecall: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.