Miralee Reception Centre was established in 1963 as the 'Mildura Reception Centre'. The Reception Centre opened on 20 September 1963. It was officially opened by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria on 17 December 1963. This was done pursuant to Section 12(a) of the Children's Welfare Act 1958. The building also served as the Department's Regional Office from July 1963. The Centre was renamed 'Miralee' in 1967. 'Miralee' is an Aboriginal word meaning ' black swan'.
In the beginning, Miralee accommodated approximately 10 to 12 children up to 14 years of age. In 1980 the Department built a new 'Miralee' Reception Centre.
Miralee was one of two non-metropolitan reception centres established after the introduction of the Social Welfare Act in 1960. The Mildura Reception Centre served northern and western Victoria. The other non-metropolitan centre 'Warrawee', located in Ballarat, served central and south western Victoria.
Children came to the Centre on a Protection Application Order or Safe Custody Order and, if admitted to wardship, assessment of the child was made. The children at Miralee who were made Wards of the state remained at the Centre until suitable arrangements were made for their care. Parents, relatives and friends were encouraged to keep in contact with their children in the Centre and to be involved in the planning for their future care. The children attended local schools and churches.
The Centre was managed by a professional social worker and staffed by a cottage mother, a relieving cottage mother, a child care worker and domestic staff. Initially, referrals were also accepted from the New South Wales area of the Sunraysia District along the Murray River.
The Reception Centre was also used as the regional office for the Social Welfare Department. In addition to managing the arrival, and accommodation, of children, the Reception Centre social worker supervised foster care, home release placements in the community and provided assistance with applications for family counselling. A Probation and Parole Officer was also located at the Centre.
Due to a lack of children's homes and family group homes in the Mildura region, some children remained in residence for many months.
In 1980 the Department built a new 'Miralee' Reception Centre. However, design flaws limited its full effectiveness and the old building was retained to provide accommodation for children unable to be housed in the new building.
Miralee Reception Centre closed in about 1986.