The Annual Report of the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board for 1947 stated that 'the purchase of a Government institution for the training of [sic] delinquent girls in modern welfare methods is receiving the serious consideration of the board'. That same year the Salvation Army announced their intention to close the Barton Vale Girls' Reformatory at Enfield. The government acted quickly and purchased the property, renaming it Vaughan House after Dorothy Vaughan who had been a member of the board since 1916. Vaughan House was officially opened on 17 October 1947 as a Government reformatory for girls who were state wards.
The building was extensively renovated and extra furniture and equipment was provided. In its first year the institution was home to 13 girls, ranging in age from 14 to 20 years. The majority of girls were Protestant as most Catholic state wards were placed at the Convent of the Good Shepherd, The Pines. Local ministers visited the home to provide religious instruction. Some girls attended church outside of the home of Sunday evenings, chaperoned by church members.
At Vaughan House girls were taught housework, cooking, dressmaking, music appreciation, dance, physical education and handicrafts. By the 1960s education at the home was under the charge of an Education Department teacher. The regular school curriculum was taught as well as vocational training in commercial subjects, first aid, home nursing and mothercraft. Girls could also take up a postal and telegraph course. After a period of training selected 'trusted' girls left the home daily. Some carried out occasional domestic work at the Kumanka Boys Hostel in North Adelaide. 'Trusted' girls were also allowed occasional approved daytime outings. These privileges increased as they reached the end of their sentence. All girls received a weekly allowance from the Department and those who were considered to have behaved well and worked hard were rewarded with extra pocket money.
Due to overcrowding at Vaughan House in the mid 1950s Allambi Girls' Hostel at Norwood was temporarily used as an annexe of the reformatory. For approximately one year, from June 1956 to May 1957, selected girls, considered to be 'trust-worthy', were sent to Allambi. In November 1959 Allambi Girls' Hostel was once again used as temporary overflow accommodation with 11 girls from Vaughan House staying at the Hostel in Norwood for six months.
By 1960 the number of girls placed at Vaughan House had increased to between 40 and 50. Between 1961 and 1962 overcrowding became such an issue that temporary facilities were established at Bedford Park Boys' Training Centre to take some of the overflow of girls from Vaughan House. A number of temporary buildings were erected at Vaughan House allowing the institution to accommodate up to 50 girls, and construction of a new permanent building was begun.
The new building was constructed in two stages. Stage I was officially opened in June 1962 and provided dormitories and rooms for 47 girls. Stage II was completed and officially opened in February 1965. The new building could now accommodate 72 girls in 50 single rooms and four small dormitories. All of these were on the first floor of the building. The ground floor housed classrooms and recreation rooms a gymnasium, kitchen and dining rooms and a chapel.
In 1970 a Probation Officer was appointed to the home to help in assessing girls approaching their release date. After release, girls were visited regularly by departmental probation officers. In 1970 initial assessment was also introduced with the aim of better classifying each girl and setting up personalized training.
In 1972 lower numbers at Vaughan House, combined with pressure on the Windana Remand Home, led to the institution being remodelled to provide discrete sections for girls on remand and girls requiring secure accommodation and 'intensive treatment'. In June 1973, 11 girls from Windana were moved to the new remand and assessment units at Vaughan House, and Windana became a remand centre for boys only. An open hostel section was also introduced at Vaughan House for girls working in the community. In 1975 this hostel was transferred to a new location in North Adelaide and became known as the Elizabeth Grace Community Unit.
In 1979 Vaughan House was renamed the South Australian Youth Remand and Assessment Centre and it became a secure institution for girls and boys aged between 10 and 18. Two units at the centre catered for girls on remand or sent for training, while two further units catered for boys on remand. Other children under the care of the Department were also placed in the new Centre for assessment.
Vaughan House was one of the institutions that came under scrutiny for allegations of abuse during the Children in State Care Inquiry 2004-2008. The majority of the reported incidents at Vaughan House were from the 1960s and 1970s.
08 April 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE00084
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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