Grassmere's founding director, Rev. John Smith, had previously worked at Tally Ho. There were a number of links between the two institutions. The service was largely the brainchild of Ian Cox, a former superintendent of Tally Ho, who went on to work in the government's Youth Welfare Division. In 1973, Tally Ho's superintendent Denis Oakley employed Grassmere's director, John Smith, to undertake research about young offenders.
John Smith later reflected on the philosophy underlying the programs at Grassmere:
'We were critical of the major theory that offending behaviour was entirely the responsibility of the offender. We firmly believed that the social, economic, educational and justice systems were also an important influence and often it was the interaction between the two that was an important starting point. To remove a child from their environment and place them in residential care did not solve the problem of learning to cope with law-violating behaviour, it merely delayed it.'
The 1976 Norgard Report into child care services in Victoria made reference to the innovative programs for young offenders at Grassmere, providing alternatives to wardship and keeping young people with their families:
' We are interested to observe the program operated by the Grassmere Centre, Doveton, where offending and misbehaving children attend for specified periods each week under the conditions of a Probation or Supervision Order. There are strong arguments for using such Orders to bring children into this type of group recreational program under skilled leadership.'
The decision to merge with Copelen Child and Family Services (another agency auspiced by the Uniting Church) was made following a strategic planning process in 1997. A Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies was signed in July 1998 and the merger was completed by May 1999. This established the new organisation using the name of 'Copelen'. From 1999, 'Grassmere Youth Services' was a division operating within Copelen.
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10 August 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/vic/E000228
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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