Aftercare’s History

Aftercare was established by Emily Paterson, a woman of great courage, foresight and strength.

Emily grew up on the family property, Rockend, at Gladesville, with her famous cousin, poet Banjo Paterson. Despite suffering ill health as a child, as a result of which she lost her eyesight, she was known as a very independent woman who went on to achieve great things in the world.

Emily’s great passion was music, which led her to compose her own songs as well as set her cousin Banjo’s poetry to music. She was also very passionate about her church and later went on to compose many hymns, which were performed at her place of worship, the First Church of Christ Scientist in Liverpool Street, Sydney.

As her home was opposite the Gladesville Mental Hospital, Emily was able to visit female patients, often inviting them to Rockend to have afternoon tea. She formed very strong relationships with these women and became concerned that, when they left the hospital, they would have nowhere to live, no money and be without friends—a very frightening prospect for someone who has just recovered from mental illness. So, in 1907, with the support of medical, political and intellectual figures of the day, Emily proposed the formation of Aftercare.

It is now more than a century later and the focus of our work has not changed. Our objective has always been to assist people to live independent lives in their chosen community. Our strength has always resided in the people the association supports, the dedicated staff who have given generously of their time and the many volunteer board members who have served throughout the years.

We are now the longest-serving mental health organisation in Australia, with services in over 50 locations across Australia and we are committed to continuously evolving to meet the needs of all Australians. At any given time, thousands of people are being supported through our range of services. We are founded on the values of respect, integrity, leadership, professionalism, fairness and advocating a better understanding in the community of social and emotional wellbeing.