Kinchela Boys' Home was modelled on Cootamundra Girls' Home and was intended to offer 'training'. The property included a dairy and farm and boys did all the labouring. There was a school, but farm training was the main focus of activities.
There were many investigations into Kinchela Home during the 1920s and 1930s. At least one manager during this period was a violent alcoholic who physically abused the boys and it is clear that 'training' was severely limited, and consisted of hiring the boys out as labourers to local farmers. However a later manager, JT Danvers, was notably kind and also praised the schoolteacher's work with the boys (Parry, 2007). He was soon moved to another position by the Aborigines Protection Board.
From the 1940s, when the Aborigines Welfare Board was interested in assimilating Aboriginal children into the wider community, boys were sent out to Kempsey Public School. In the 1950s and 1960s some boys were admitted to Kempsey High School. According to Dawn, the publicity magazine of the Board, conditions at the Home were improved over the 1950s and the 1960s, and boys were allowed to engage in recreational activities. Dawn contains many images from Kinchela at this period.
The home was transferred to the Child Welfare Department when the Aborigines Welfare Board was shut down in 1969. The 1970 Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department expressed strong views about Kinchela when it took over the administration of Kinchela in 1969:
'Together with various other responsibilities of the former Aborigines Welfare Board, the Department assumed control of Kinchela Boys Home and the Cootamundra Girls Training Home (now known as Bimbadeen) during 1969. Kinchela was closed as an establishment in May, 1970, and the 7 wards then in residence were transferred elsewhere. This property was poorly situated, uneconomical, and generally unsuitable for the Department's purposes, and is to be disposed of. The proceeds will be used to help finance a new hostel development for young Aboriginal people.'
The Kinchela site was returned to the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council and in 2012 it was used as Bennelong's Haven Aboriginal Rehabilitation Services. Since 2012 the Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation, based in Darlington in Sydney, has provided support for former residents of the Home. They also organise reunions.
Kinchela Boys' Home was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.
09 July 2020
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE00955
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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