Government reports (Signposts, 2004 pp.238-243) show that in 1969 boys from 12 years old were regularly admitted to Hillston. It was a large institution, and during the 1970s there were never less than 200 admissions each year, peaking at 363 admissions in 1976. Each year in June, there was a head count of boys at Hillston. In 1970, there were 68 boys; there were 81 boys in 1974; and in 1976 there were 69 boys.
All the boys who were sent to Hillston were wards of the State. Boys went to school and worked at Hillston, and could be sent to the government-run Warramia Group Home at Badgingarra. The boys could also be given 'work release'. From 1970, younger boys were reportedly placed in a separate cottage, with cottage parents, in the grounds of Hillston. A dairy and swimming pool were also installed in that year.
In 1972, the annual report of the Child Welfare Department (Signposts, p.239) showed that there had been a 'marked increase' in admissions of boys to Hillston partly due to the 'non-payment of fines'. In 1973, boys and staff were reported (p.240) as building a new 'workshop complex'. Between 1974 and 1975 there was a 40 percent increase in admissions to Hillston, which was attributed to increasing admissions of Aboriginal boys.
Work release and trial leave were common at Hillston during the 1970s and the annual reports of the Department for Community Welfare during these years (Signposts, pp.240-241) relate the difficulties of placing boys with suitable employers, particularly with downturns in the nearby Woorooloo abattoir, where many of the boys were sent for work experience. By 1977, admission numbers were easing as boys who were 'fine-defaulters' were no longer sent to Hillston.
There had always been educational facilities at Hillston, and by 1976 the onsite school had three teachers. A science building opened in 1977.
By 1980, boys from 11 to 17 years were admitted, with the average age reported as 15 years. In 1983, Hillston's last full year, there were 187 admissions and 198 discharges, including 83 boys who were admitted more than once during that year.
As a result of recommendations from the 1982 Inquiry into the Treatment of Juvenile Offenders, Hillston ceased to be a residential facility and it closed in January 1984.
04 May 2022
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00097
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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