Founded in Faith
Building a Community: A History of St Mary’s Primary School Dandenong 1912–2012

Book available to purchase from the school

The story of St Mary’s Primary School begins in 1912 with the arrival of three Presentation Sisters in Dandenong to establish a new convent and Catholic school. Opening with 75 students, St Mary’s flourished despite challenges such as limited resources, a population explosion in the 1950s due to post-war migration, and a decline in teaching Presentation Sisters who were gradually replaced by lay teachers.

Throughout the 100 years since the establishment of St Mary’s, Dandenong has changed dramatically, transforming from a semi-rural market town into a thriving industrial and commercial centre. The population of the City of Greater Dandenong has swelled to over 140,000 residents from more than 150 nations and the St Mary’s school community reflects this cultural diversity.

St Mary’s Primary School has embraced these changes and held true to the founding philosophy of the Presentation Sisters, continuing to provide children with a warm and caring environment in which to learn and grow. This website traces the story of St Mary’s and reveals the dedication and community spirit that continues to guide the school.

The contents of this website have also been produced as a book, Building a Community: A History of St Mary’s Primary School Dandenong 1912–2012, which is available to purchase from the school.

St Mary's Primary School
22–24 New Street, Dandenong
Victoria 3175 Australia
T: (03) 9791 7650

Dandenong was a developing rural township when the Presentation Sisters arrived to establish a Catholic school in 1912. This photo of Dandenong’s busy main street was taken just three years later in 1915.
Sate Library of Victoria, H90.72/60

Unless otherwise acknowledged, all images are from the collection of St Mary's Primary School Dandenong.