Presbyterian Ladies' College Melbourne was founded in 1875 and is one of the first independent schools for girls in Australia still in existence. The College was situated in East Melbourne , and its initial enrolment was 60 students. Among its students in that first year were Catherine Deakin, sister of future Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, and Helen (Ellen) Mitchell who was to become Dame Nellie Melba.
When the University of Melbourne opened its doors to female students in 1881, many were from the College: Constance Ellis, the first Victorian woman to receive the degree of Doctor of Medicine, Flos Greig, the first woman to be admitted to the Victorian Bar; Ethel Godfrey, Victoria's first woman dentist; and Vida Goldstein, suffragette and the first woman to stand for election to Federal Parliament.
In 1939, with 600 pupils and 40 teachers, accommodation at PLC East Melbourne was at maximum capacity and the College Council began the search for a new site for the School. 'Hethersett', a residence in extensive grounds in Burwood, a developing residential suburbs 15 kilometres to the east, was purchased.
The Junior School moved to Burwood that year and in 1958 both the Senior School and Boarding House, also relocated.
In 1980, the College was incorporated, retaining its links as an educational institution affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Victoria.
The College maintains its tradition of educational leadership. Many of today's prominent Australian women were educated at Presbyterian Ladies' College. Two former students of the College have been awarded the Rhodes Scholarship in the past ten years.
Today, PLC’s international outlook, recognised by the Council of International Schools, reflects a student population that blends diverse cultural backgrounds, languages, religious practices and political systems.
Within the twin contexts of life in democratic Australia and teaching and learning at PLC, a Christian independent girls’ school, there is a commitment that our programs and teaching support and promote
- the principles and practice of elected government,
- the rule of law,
- equal rights for all before the law,
- freedom of religion,
- freedom of speech and association
- and the values of openness and tolerance.