The Bouverie Centre (first known as The Collins Street Clinic) was originally established as a clinical mental health service for children and adolescents. In 1956, the centre was renamed The Bouverie Clinic following its relocation from Collins Street, in the CBD of Melbourne to Bouverie Street, Carlton.
The Bouverie Centre made the transition from a child psychiatric clinic to the first family therapy centre in Australia in the mid 1970’s. This major change was inspired by the Superintendent of the day, Dr Geoff Goding, who had taken part in a workshop run by Walter Kempler, a Gestalt Family Therapist. Geoff and a small dedicated group of social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists from Bouverie were enthusiastic about understanding and working from a framework that privileged working with the whole family. To this end, they invited Salvador Minuchin to visit Australia in 1976.
Bouverie continued to shift away from individual work with children to a family focused approach to helping children and adults with difficulties and, over time, began offering a two-year training program in family therapy. This course was supported by the State government and in 1981 became formally known as the Mental Health Division Training Program in Family Therapy.
In 1984, The Bouverie Clinic moved to a new site in Parkville, and was re-named the Bouverie Family Therapy Centre. Due to its 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 in 1986. Three years later, 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.
In 1996, following the mainstreaming of mental health care, La Trobe University took over the management of The Bouverie Centre from the Mental Health Branch of the Victorian Department of Human Services, and added to Bouverie’s name the subtitle Victoria’s Family Institute. In the decades that followed, the range of clinical academic courses offered by Bouverie expanded to include the nationally recognised Graduate Certificate in Family Therapy for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Workers. The centre’s flagship Master’s level program is a regular feature on the academic calendar and we also boast a vibrant higher degree research program.
With the appointment of The Bouverie Centre’s current director, Dr Jeff Young, the centre has begun to develop closer links with its University auspice which has resulted in the expansion of the research program, established under the previous director, Dr Colin Riess and former research manager, Assoc Prof Amaryll Perlesz.
During 1996 to1998, 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 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 the centre now offering a range of services to agencies designed to support the implementation of family sensitive approaches to care at an organisational level. The Bouverie Centre has established workforce training and development projects with a number of Victorian state-wide services, such as Community Health Counselling, Alcohol and Other Drugs 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.
The Bouverie Centre now has over 40 staff, with clinical staff typically working across a number of different service areas including:
The Bouverie Centre is currently engaged in an ongoing articulation of our unique integrated model. Each individual service provided by The Bouverie Centre is enriched by the ideas, evidence and practices of the other services, and by the centre’s work with a wide range of service systems, in an ongoing recursive way.
This commitment to dynamic integration and systemic ideas is reflected in the circular floor design of the current site. In 2007, after occupying four different sites (Collins Street, City prior to 1956, Bouverie Street, Carlton 1956 -1983, Parkville 1984 to 1996, Flemington Street, Flemington 1996-2007), The Bouverie Centre moved into a $5 million, state government funded, purpose built building in Gardiner Street, Brunswick.
Although the centre is housed in a lovely building, Bouverie is really a network of communities of practice, alumni, current students, colleagues and friends who share a commitment to making the world a better place through contextual compassion; an appreciation of complexity combined with generosity of spirit and a non-pathologising recognition that only context separates us from our clients. The Bouverie Centre prides itself on living its values, which include transparent, inclusive leadership across the organisation.
The Bouverie Centre presented a webinar describing the centre’s work exploring the intersection between Family Violence and Mental Health.find out more