Big Brothers Big Sisters began in the USA in the early 1900's after a Children's Court judge identified the need for a mentor program for the young people coming through his court. The first ‘Big Brothers’ were predominantly businessmen who volunteered to befriend a ‘boy in trouble.’ The emphasis, at the time, was on reforming boys by encouraging them into education and the workforce.
Big Brothers Big Sisters was first established in Melbourne as a pilot program in 1982. It was originally auspiced by the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau and operated in the Eastern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. The Program was modelled on its American forerunner and successfully adapted to meet Australian needs.
The Program was briefly auspiced by the Christian Brothers, and was an independent organisation with a Board of Management from 1988 to 1997. It then merged with Jesuit Social Services, a Melbourne based agency with a particular focus on juvenile justice, where it became part of its preventative arm.