The House of Mercy was established for the 'shelter and reformation of women and girls who have fallen from virtue', as described by The Daily News on 13 June 1891 (p.3).
It opened in rented premises in Lake Street, Perth in November 1891.
Women were 'trained' in domestic work and housekeeping, and worked in the commercial laundry to part-fund the operations of the Home. Charitable subscriptions were sought by the House of Mercy Assocation, the private management committee that ran the Home.
An excerpt from the 1893 report by the management committee was published in The West Australian (11 September 1894, p.7). The report gave an insight into what the committee hoped to achieve: to offer a helping hand and give 'girls' the opportunity to 'return to the paths of virtue'. The report also said that 16 young women had been admitted since the House of Mercy had opened. Of these, five were 'doing well in domestic service', two had 'gone home to their friends', one had married, four remained at the House of Mercy, three had left because 'they would not subscribe to the rules and wished to leave' and one young woman absconded. In the published excerpt, there was no mention of the fate of the babies born to these mothers. The report also acknowledged that the House of Mercy had been subject to 'apprehension and prejudice' from the community and the management committee hoped that the public would start to see that it was engaged in a respectable venture.
In 1894, the Home moved to 100 Aberdeen Street, West Perth and then in 1901 to Lincoln Street, Highgate.
In 1899, there were six women and three children resident in the Home.
The House of Mercy was the forerunner of the Alexandra Home (1916-1956).
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
20 June 2014
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00350
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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