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Organisation Ashley Home for Boys (1922 - 1999)
- Care Provider, Government-run, Juvenile Detention Centre, Stolen Generations and Training Institution
- Alternative Names
- State Farm School for Boys (1922 - 1926)
The Ashley Home for Boys was a government-run training institution for boys over the age of 12. Originally a state farm, it was converted in 1921, and given the name Ashley Home for Boys in 1926. Located in Deloraine in northern Tasmania, the Ashley Home for Boys serviced the whole state. The Ashley Youth Detention Centre, declared as a detention centre under the Youth Justice Act 1997, is situated on the former site of Ashley Home for Boys.
The Department's annual report from 1956 described the purpose of Ashley Home for Boys thus :
to provide care and training for older wards, who, because of maladjustment and delinquency, require special institutional control.
Former residents who made claims to the Ombudsman's review in 2003-2004 described the daily routine at Ashley Home for Boys:
Chores at Ashley, like Wybra, consisted of weeding, milking, gathering fodder, feeding the animals and doing inside work like polishing floors and general cleaning. Retribution was swift if any boy was found not to have finished his chores properly.
Claimants also described a 'secure unit' at Ashley for boys considered to be a high absconding risk or 'uncontrollable', which was said to be 'constructed in the same manner as a prison cell'.
In May 1950, a fire at Ashley burnt out 18 of the 24 rooms in the Home's main block.
In October 1951, the Public Service Commissioner led an enquiry into allegations made by a former staff member in the Tasmanian press about conditions at Ashley Boys' Home. Mr Klein, a Dutch migrant, described Ashley Home to the Hobart Mercury as being '50 years behind the times to Australian as well as to European standards'. Klein stated: 'I feel strongly that a stranger should not criticize a government institution of this state, but I feel it is still more strongly as my duty on behalf of the young human beings concerned to publish some facts about Ashley Home for Boys at Deloraine.'
Klein was employed at Ashley as a recreation officer from April to September, 1951, when he left the Home for another job. One of Klein's claims was that boys were being held in solitary confinement in unfurnished cells. A subsequent letter to the editor of the Launceston Examiner supported Klein's allegations and made the claim that floggings took place at Ashley.
Klein's statement contained the following observation about how Ashley approached the 'rehabilitation' of its residents:
There are no case histories at the disposal of Ashley Home. Names, ages, denominations, the cases for which the boys were committed, etc are known: but there are no reports giving sufficient information on the past, or on the (mostly shocking) home conditions of the boys.
So the very material which is essential for an insight into the boys' psychological structure, which should be the basis for an effective individual and group readjustment treatment, is missing.
The committee established to investigate such claims about Ashley Boys' Home recommended that younger boys be accommodated in a separate institution to the Home at Deloraine, in another part of Tasmania.
In 1952, a member of the Ashley Advisory Committee spoke of their consideration of a plan to send 'very difficult' boys away to another institution, possibly in Tamworth, New South Wales. It was claimed that a separate institution for these boys would not be economically viable in the small state of Tasmania.
In 1952, proposals for the rebuilding of the Home were developed. At this time, the Public Works Department made the claim that the Home was never planned, 'the buildings just happened to grow up around the place with no relation to one another'. The plans were presented in September 1952, and included plans to separate boys at Ashley into different 'classes'. The plans for Ashley included two dormitories in a single storey building, each accommodating 15 boys. There was also a separate annexe with six single rooms for the 'most troublesome' boys.
At this time the Government was well aware of the need to house younger boys 'without criminal tendencies' (eg, boys at Ashley for offences like truancy) separately from the older boys. A proposal was made that the government purchase Wybra Hall in Mangalore and establish there an institution for 'juvenile delinquents without criminal tendencies'.
The new institution at Mangalore would be accompanied by measures to introduce a 'more homely atmosphere' at Ashley and accommodating boys in the cottage system. In October 1952, the Chief Secretary outlined the plans for redeveloping Ashley and establishing another institution at Mangalore (Wybra Hall). Following the completion of the new section at Ashley, work would then commence on building several cottages, where 'better boys' could live away from the main building, in the care of cottage parents. The 'bad offenders' would be segregated from other boys at Ashley, and the younger boys would be transferred to the new institution at Mangalore. The Chief Secretary stated that it would be 'worthwhile' to have a reciprocal arrangement with a home in New South Wales, so that Ashley's 'worst boys' could be sent there.
In May 1953, the state opposition made statements to the press about juvenile delinquency and Ashley Boys' Home, sparked by a court decision to send two boys aged 14 and 16 to Hobart Gaol, rather than to Ashley. The opposition leader Mr Townley criticized the government for delaying its response to recommendations made by the committee that had been enquiring into Ashley Boys' Home since late 1951. Townley claimed that staff at Ashley were poorly trained, and that the institution kept poor records of its residents, with little information in case histories and inadequate follow up of boys after they left Ashley.
The committee presented its final report on Ashley Boys' Home in September 1953. The report contained a recommendation that the Tasmanian government establish a special department under a Commissioner of Child Welfare. This new department would oversee the treatment of young offenders, child welfare functions currently with the Social Services Department, and also inherit areas relating to children from departments such as Education and Mental Hygiene.
In July 1954, the Chief Secretary announced that the government was creating a new position, the Superintendent of Child Welfare.
In 1988, Wybra Hall closed. The young women and boys living there were transferred to Ashley. With the money saved by the closure, the government put up new buildings at Ashley to provide accommodation and educational facilities, including arts and crafts, for them.
The Report of the Stolen Generations Assessor of 2008 mentions Ashley Home for Boys.
- 1926 - 1999
- Ashley Home for Boys is situated in Deloraine. Location: Deloraine
- Ashley Home for Boys, Twenty cents' worth: words and images, Department for Community Welfare, Tasmania, 1988. Details
- Canden, Chas J., Walk in my shoes : from Ashley boy to altar boy, Deloraine, Tas, 2001. Details
- Canden, Chas J., Memories of Ashley Boys Home and other ramblings, 2004. Details
- Department for Community Welfare: annual report for the year ended 30 June 1988, Department for Community Welfare, Hobart, 1988. Details
- Ombudsman Tasmania, Listen to the children: Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children, Office of the Ombudsman, Tasmania, Hobart, November 2004. Details
- Tasmania. Parliament. Legislative Council. Select Committee, Ashley home for boys : report of Select Committee of the Legislative Council, with minutes of proceedings, DE Wilkinson, Government Printer, Hobart, 1963. Details
- 'Ashley Home for Boys', Examiner, 18 August 1930, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article51656558. Details
- 'Guest at farewell dinner', The Mercury, 24 November 1941, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25905546. Details
- 'Building youth', The Mercury, 10 February 1944, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26019988. Details
- 'Ashley at play', The Mercury, 9 March 1944, p. 16, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26023648. Details
- 'Ashley at home', The Mercury, 24 February 1944, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26012197. Details
- 'No title', The Mercury, [Photograph]: Damaged iron frame beds being cleared from one of the wrecked downstairs dormitories at the Ashley Home for Boys, Deloraine, which was gutted by fire on Monday evening. Eighteen of the 24 rooms in the main block were burnt out., 24 May 1950, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26704695. Details
- 'Empty shell only', 24 May 1950, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52718744. Details
- 'Fire guts Ashley Home for Boys', The Mercury, Illustrated article, 23 May 1950, p. 1, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26704458. Details
- 'Fire guts Ashley Home for Boys', The Mercury, 23 May 1950, p. 1, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/26704458. Details
- 'Ashley Homes critic holds to statements', Examiner, 10 October 1951, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52832799. Details
- 'Letters to the editor', Examiner, 9 October 1951, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52832698. Details
- 'Alleges shocking conditions at Ashley Home', The Mercury, 3 October 1951, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27058062. Details
- 'Ashley Boys' Home plans', The Mercury, 4 July 1951, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27036103. Details
- 'Ashley Boys' Home reforms', The Mercury, 17 October 1951, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27063316. Details
- 'Conducting enquiry', Examiner, 17 October 1951, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52833734. Details
- 'Ashley Boys' Home was never planned', The Mercury, 19 September 1952, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52914497. Details
- 'Ashley Home plans', The Mercury, 19 September 1952, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27110863. Details
- 'Boys' home scheme', The Mercury, 3 October 1952, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27113363. Details
- 'Favours separation of certain types of boys at Ashley', The Examiner, 3 October 1952, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52916206. Details
- 'Recommends new Ashley Home', Examiner, 30 October 1952, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52919805. Details
- 'Department to handle delinquent children urged', 23 September 1953, p. 18, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27184497. Details
- 'Shades of Pt Puer', The Mercury, 19 May 1953, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27153039. Details
- 'Delinquents treatment scandal, says Mr Townley', The Mercury, 20 May 1953, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27156811. Details
- 'Reforms at Ashley Boys' Home urged by State Liberal Party Council', The Mercury, 3 August 1953, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27167977. Details
- 'Child Welfare Head Arrives', The Mercury, 22 October 1954, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27252239. Details
- Report of the Stolen Generations Assessor, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tasmania, 2008, http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/53770/Stolen_Generations_Assessor_final_report.pdf. Details
- 'Grown men don't cry', 2011, http://www.forgottenaustralians.org.au/dvd.htm. Details
- Forgotten Australians: Tony's Story, 2012, http://www.forgottenaustralians.org.au/dvd.htm. Details
- Klein, James W.H.C., 'Readjustment treatment lacking at Ashley Home', Examiner, 3 October 1951, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52831879. Details
- Rimon, Wendy, 'Children's homes', in The companion to Tasmanian history, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, 2005, http://www.utas.edu.au/library/companion_to_tasmanian_history/C/Children%27s%20Homes.htm. Details
- Front view of the main building taken from railway line about 1930
- c. 1930
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Health and Human Services
Sources used to compile this entry: 'No title', The Mercury, [Photograph]: Damaged iron frame beds being cleared from one of the wrecked downstairs dormitories at the Ashley Home for Boys, Deloraine, which was gutted by fire on Monday evening. Eighteen of the 24 rooms in the main block were burnt out., 24 May 1950, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26704695; 'Alleges shocking conditions at Ashley Home', The Mercury, 3 October 1951, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27058062; 'Letters to the editor', Examiner, 9 October 1951, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52832698; 'Ashley Boys' Home was never planned', The Mercury, 19 September 1952, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52914497; 'Ashley Home plans', The Mercury, 19 September 1952, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27110863; 'Boys' home scheme', The Mercury, 3 October 1952, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27113363; 'Favours separation of certain types of boys at Ashley', The Examiner, 3 October 1952, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52916206; 'Delinquents treatment scandal, says Mr Townley', The Mercury, 20 May 1953, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27156811; 'Department to handle delinquent children urged', 23 September 1953, p. 18, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27184497; Department for Community Welfare: annual report for the year ended 30 June 1988, Department for Community Welfare, Hobart, 1988; Report of the Stolen Generations Assessor, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Tasmania, 2008, http://www.dpac.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/53770/Stolen_Generations_Assessor_final_report.pdf; Klein, James W.H.C., 'Readjustment treatment lacking at Ashley Home', Examiner, 3 October 1951, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52831879; Ombudsman Tasmania, Listen to the children: Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children, Office of the Ombudsman, Tasmania, Hobart, November 2004.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 12 January 2011, Last modified: 5 April 2013