The Hay Community Unit was opened by the Department of Community Welfare at 4 Rowells Road, Lockleys in 1979 on the site of the former Hay Cottage. The Hay Community Unit was in fact the new name given to the Elizabeth Grace Community Unit when it transferred to the Lockleys site. The Elizabeth Grace Community Unit, which had been in North Adelaide, was a non-secure open unit of Vaughan House, later the South Australian Youth Remand and Assessment Centre.
In the early 1980s, Hay Community Unit was described as the only unit that the Department operated specifically for adolescent girls. In 1982-83 the Unit was said to provide 'care, support and guided development' for young offenders who did not require custodial care.
The Hay Community Unit could accommodate a maximum of six girls between the ages of 14 and 18 and also catered for up to eight girls of the same age in a non-residential outreach programme. During the early 1980s, however, the average number of residents per week was two with an average of five girls involved in the outreach program. The Unit was managed by a senior residential care worker. Six residential care workers were on staff and worked at the Unit at different times.
In 1983 a Departmental report stated that the Hay Community Unit was a place for girls who were regarded as 'emotionally disturbed, self-destructive, violent and runaways'. It was said to provide a three month residential program followed by a period of intensive community based support. The Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry (2004-2008) in its research into departmental records found that Hay Community Unit had:
'…developed a reputation as the 'end of the line' before secure care.'
The 1983 report had stated that there were management problems at the Unit related to continual absconding and missing school, minor offending and the general low self-esteem and high vulnerability of the girls placed there. Many were repeatedly sent back to the South Australian Youth Remand and Assessment Centre for various reasons, including safe-keeping. The report suggested that because of the varied nature of the girls in residence, the Unit continually had to adapt to a different mixture of needs which meant that it was difficult to create stability and balance. The report questioned whether some of the problems at the Unit also stemmed from the fact that the girls were not receiving adequate or appropriate training to prepare them for re-entering the community. It recommended that changes be made to the training program at the Unit.
In 1983 the Hay Community Unit was moved to a new location at 38 Lurline Street, Mile End. In 1989 it closed and girls still in residence were transferred to the Unit Living, Marion, a departmental independent living facility at Sturt.
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06 May 2022
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE01221
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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