The Bunbury Group Home was established as a government-run residential facility for up to 10 children in the southern Bunbury suburb of Gelorup, possibly in 1974 when an existing house was extended to accommodate up to 10 children to be placed by the Department for Community Welfare (DCW). It is likely that it was known as the Bunbury Group Home during the pre-occupation phase, and then was named 'Canowindra' once it was operating. As it was situated in Gelorup (also spelled 'Gelarup' in departmental reports), the suburb name was adopted in later years.
Government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.130-132) show that Canowindra was staffed, at least for some years, with group home 'parents', possibly to create a family-like atmosphere. Locating Canowindra in the Bunbury area seems to have been motivated by a desire to keep children who couldn't live at home as close to their home town as possible. That way, children had a greater likelihood of being to maintain pre-existing social, educational and familial relationships.
By 1977, the DCW was reporting that the children's parents were being encouraged to participate in planning for the child's future placements (including returning to the family home). Canowindra also seems to have been a hub for the Department's other out of home 'care' activities in the Bunbury area. By 1980, children with 'special needs' could be assessed at Canowindra, and children who were fostered could attend functions (such as Christmas parties) there with their foster parents. Possibly, training for foster parents was also delivered from Canowindra. It is likely that Canowindra was staffed by rostered group workers by this time, but this has not been confirmed.
There are few published reports on the number, age, or sex of children placed at Canowindra but it has probably accommodated boys and girls since it began. In 1986, primary school aged children were accommodated at Canowindra and in 1996 it was described as a 'hostel' for young people needing short-to-medium term accommodation.
In 2004, Canowindra was being refurbished and by 2014, the facility was known as 'Gelorup' and continued as a government-run residential group home.
The collection held by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support (DCPFS) dates from 1894. It includes records from the Government Receiving Depot, the State Children's Department, the Child Welfare Department and more recent departments which have been known at different times as the Department for Child Protection, Community Development, Community Welfare, Community Services, and Family and Children's Services. The records relate to children who were placed in all types of out of home 'care' in Western Australia. Some of the records held by the DCPFS were originally created by another government department or private agency.
Contact Freedom of Information, Department for Child Protection and Family Support:
PO Box 6334, East Perth WA 6892
Telephone: (08) 6217 6388 or (08) 6217 6381
Facsimile: (08) 9222 2776
Free call in WA: 1800 000 277
The State Records Office (SRO) holds the State archives collection. The state archives collection includes records that might be of interest to people who were in out of home care as children. These records can be found throughout the collection because many government agencies were involved. The Find and Connect web resource will identify as many of these records as possible.
State Records Office of Western Australia:
Alexander Library Building, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000
Phone: (08) 9427 3600
24 June 2014
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00039
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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