90 years dedicated to children’s rights

Our History

Eglantyne Jebb, a teacher and sociologist, founded Save the Children in England in 1919.

Known then as the International Save the Children Fund, the organisation’s first goal – a highly controversial one for the time - was to supply food to starving children in Austria immediately after World War I. In the first year alone, Save the Children raised over 400,000 pounds, the equivalent of $20 million Australian dollars today.

With a strong vision and dedication to children’s rights, Eglantyne developed five directives that she believed were the fundamental rights of every child. She lobbied the League of Nations (the pre-cursor to the United Nations) until they adopted these rights in 1924. They have since formed the basis for the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959, and inspired the current Convention on the Rights of the Child. These rights remain the foundation for our global vision and values nine decades later. 

Save the Children in Australia

In the same year we began in England, Save the Children’s first Australian branch opened in Melbourne to assist with famine relief for refugees affected by war in Europe.  Our Queensland division opened in 1920, closely followed by our South Australian branch in 1922. Over the next 50 years, more branches were established across the states to assist children in Europe and the Middle East.

Improving the health and education of children in Australia became our priority in 1951. Welfare centres and pre-schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Victoria were among our first Australian programs.

In 2004, we began consolidation of our state branches into a single national organisation and changed our name to Save the Children Australia. Drawing on our history and experience, we continue to grow and reach more children through our programs and humanitarian responses in Australia and overseas.

Save the Children globally

Save the Children Australia is a member of Save the Children International, a global network of child-focused organisations supporting children in more than 123 countries. Learn more about our global reach through our relationship with Save the Children International.