[Taken from the Western Australian guide Signposts:]
Sponsoring Agency: Departmental - including predessors to the current Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
Group Homes were established by the Department "for children who need a more specialised type of family care than can be provided in a normal foster home or boarding placement. The children placed in these facilities are not necessarily problem children, but because of their circumstances they would find it difficult to settle into a private family. The Departmental group home can provide a skilled and stabilising environment as a stepping stone to future return home or foster placement" (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1974). For notes on a general history of these facilities, see the section on Group Homes at the beginning of Signposts.
"A large group home at Darlington was purchased during  to provide skilled care for school-age boys who would be unable to settle in foster homes." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1974).
"The cottage provides mainly for boys who can cope with a normal school curriculum but this is not a necessary criterion providing the individual has a degree of motivation to attend school and the school is able to provide a course of studies suitable to the boy's needs." "The establishment of this cottage has allowed for boys resident there to become totally involved in the community and to develop social competence." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1975).
Darlington Cottage was "under Hillston's supervision and accommodates up to ten school boys. Boys in residence have the opportunity to become normally involved in the community and to develop social competence. Usually they are admitted from Hillston and can expect to remain for at least one complete school term." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1977).
"The community is encouraged to use the cottage leisure and recreation provisions so that benefits can be shared to mutual advantage." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1978).
"Darlington Cottage is a 'half-way house' operated by Hillston and functions as a family unit for up to ten boys admitted through Hillston. The boys attend the local school and are encouraged to participate in community life." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1980).
In 1982, it was noted that boys could attend either the local school, or the school at Hillston. The progress of each boy at Darlington Cottage was "closely monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1982).
Darlington Cottage became one of a new breed of services in the 1980s, relinquishing its ties with Hillston as that institution was closed in September 1983. Also in that month, Bridgewater amalgamated with the Walcott System to form a new system of residential care and community support. In January 1984, the new system was named the Community Support Hostels, and Bridgewater became its Administration Centre. The Community Support Hostels comprised Darlington Cottage, Oceanview, Stuart House, Tudor Lodge, Warralea Hostel, Kyewong Hostel, Medina Hostel, Warminda and the Bedford Park Hostel [see individual entries]. The role of the Community Support Hostels was to "provide skilled care for children for whom a more normal setting, such as an emergency foster home, is not available." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1984).
By 1985, the Annual Report indicated there were seven Community Support Hostels in the Perth metropolitan area, and their individual roles and goals were "varied, complex and often quite different in nature." However, the "basic aim" of the Community Support Hostel system was to "identify and understand problems being experienced [by the children admitted to them], then to provide support and direction towards re-establishing routine involvement in community activities." At the same time, the hostel staff emphasised "behavioural stabilisation and training to increase the chances of success in activities involvement and subsequent placements." (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, 1985).
In its Submission to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce in 1987, the Department described the operation of the Community Support Hostels: "The Department's seven Community Support Hostels are all metropolitan-based, providing accommodation at each hostel for up to 8 children, of ages 6 to 17 years. Caregivers work rotating shifts; they do not live-in. At least one officer is on duty at all hours with additional staff member at busy times. Community Support Hostels provide short term accommodation for children whose behaviour and family situation is such that they are unable to remain in their usual residential setting for the present." (Submission of the Department for Community Services to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce, March 31st 1987.) In 1987, it was also reported that "children on arrest or remand who cannot return home" were also admitted to Community Support Hostels. (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, 1987).
Advice from the Department for Community Development indicates that Darlington reverted to a live in care-giver model similar to country hostels in 1993, but the period under which it operated in this manner is uncertain.
In 1994, Darlington was part of the McCall/Community Support Hostel Network, providing accommodation and support to 8-12 year olds for periods from two weeks to 12 months. (Out of Home, Preventative and Alternative Care Services Review, "Terms of Reference", Family and Children's Services, 1995).
Case records for young people placed by the department responsible for child welfare may be held by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
Additionally, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support's Aboriginal Index and the guide, 'Looking West', should be consulted for information.
While access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals, people are encouraged to enquire.
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
24 February 2014
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00067
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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