Canowindra was established as a government-run residential facility for up to 10 children in the southern Bunbury suburb of Gelorup, possibly in 1974 when an existing house was extended to accommodate up to 10 children to be placed by the Department for Community Welfare (DCW). It is likely that it was known as the Bunbury Group Home during the pre-occupation phase, and then was named 'Canowindra' once it was operating. As it was situated in Gelorup (also spelled 'Gelarup' in departmental reports).
Government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.130-132) show that Canowindra was staffed, at least for some years, with group home 'parents', possibly to create a family-like atmosphere. Locating Canowindra in the Bunbury area seems to have been motivated by a desire to keep children who couldn't live at home as close to their home town as possible. That way, children had a greater likelihood of being to maintain pre-existing social, educational and familial relationships.
By 1977, the Department of Child Welfare was reporting that the children's parents were being encouraged to participate in planning for the child's future placements (including returning to the family home). Canowindra also seems to have been a hub for the Department's other out of home 'care' activities in the Bunbury area. By 1980, children with 'special needs' could be assessed at Canowindra, and children who were fostered could attend functions (such as Christmas parties) there with their foster parents. Possibly, training for foster parents was also delivered from Canowindra. It is likely that Canowindra was staffed by rostered group workers by this time, but this has not been confirmed.
There are few published reports on the number, age, or sex of children placed at Canowindra but it has probably accommodated boys and girls since it began. In 1986, primary school aged children were accommodated at Canowindra and in 1996 it was described as a 'hostel' for young people needing short-to-medium term accommodation.
In 2004, Canowindra was being refurbished and it was upgraded in 2008. By around 2013 it was known as 'Gelorup Residential Group Home'.
24 June 2016
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00039
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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