Under the terms of the Destitute Persons Relief Act 1866, children who were 16 years and younger and had been charged with being neglected had to be placed in an Industrial School for children only. Children convicted of committing offences were to be sent to a Reformatory. As a result of the passing of the Act, the vast majority of the children in the overcrowded Destitute Asylum had to be moved out. Unfortunately, no permanent Industrial School yet existed. In addition, the military barracks section of the Asylum where the children were housed needed to be vacated in order for the British Army to reoccupy the barracks. The arrival of the XIVth Regiment made the removal of the children from the Destitute Asylum urgent. Therefore, the government had to make temporary arrangements.
In November 1866, a large group of children were briefly housed in the Exhibition Building on North Terrace. As this was an entirely unsuitable home, in February 1867 the Destitute Board took over a former hotel at Brighton, called the Grace Darling. Miss Dring was appointed matron of the new Home and she cared for more than 100 children with little other assistance.
The Grace Darling was proclaimed as an Industrial School for the occupation of male and female children under s.12 of the Destitute Persons Act in March 1867.
In August 1867, the South Australian Weekly Chronicle declared: 'We believe the history of the Brighton Industrial School - if honestly written - would constitute one of the most disgraceful chapters in the annals of South Australia.' During the first few weeks at the Hotel many of the children became ill, suffering from measles, whooping cough and other infections. Between 14 February and 17 August 1867, 14 children died in the institution. The majority were under the age of five. The institution was overcrowded from the beginning. The situation became so critical that a Select Committee of the Legislative Council was set up to investigate.
In order to ease the burden on the Grace Darling Hotel, a number of children were sent to the Catholic St Vincent de Paul's Orphanage and the Church of England's Orphan Home. Those institutions were paid a subsidy and recognised as private licensed industrial schools under the new Act.
A number of girls were also moved out the Destitute Home in Flinders Street, Adelaide. In December 1869 boys who had been convicted for offences or sentenced to a reformatory, were divided between the Ilfracombe Boys Reformatory at Burnside and the Boys Reformatory, Magill. The remaining children were transferred to the new Industrial School at Magill. The Grace Darling Hotel then ceased to operate as an institution for children in 1869.
In 1874 the building and surrounding land was purchased for use as the South Australian Institution for the Blind and Deaf and Dumb.
16 January 2023
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE00068
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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