The Salvation Army opened a reformatory Home (industrial school) for girls at Seaforth, Gosnells in 1920. The girls' reformatory had previously been at Collie. The Home was described in the Salvation Army newspaper, War Cry on 26 November 1921: it was on 200 acres of land with a frontage to the railway and the Perth to Albany Road (Albany Highway); it was the first of three Homes built on the Seaforth estate, the others being for boys; the buildings had white fencing and trellises, pale yellow walls and red roofs; there was a workroom, dining-hall and two dormitories for the girls, a quadrangle containing a swing and a 'giant stride', musical instruments such as a piano and a 'pathephone'; the site also had a vegetable garden and river swimming pool. At this time, there were 30 girls living in the Home and their daily program was also described: The girls were woken at 6.30am in summer and 7am in winter; breakfast was at 8am, and 'dinner' (lunch) at noon; 'tea' at 5.30pm and bed at 8.30pm. There were 'brief religious exercises each day' and a 'full service' on Sundays either at the Home or at the Salvation Army Hall in Gosnells; some of the girls entertained the public with 'musical evenings'. The staff included a Matron, one male officer and three 'Lasses' (female officers).
The War Cry on 2 April 1927 reported that there were 15 girls aged around 14-19 years living at Seaforth; the girls wore 'neat blue overall dresses'; there was a workroom where the girls sewed; 11 girls were in an orchestra and played violin, banjo and guitar; and a piano had recently been purchased. In this article, a case study of one of the girls was given, describing how she was sent by the government to Seaforth to prevent her becoming a 'menace' to society and reporting on her conversion to Christianity at the institution. Seaforth was described in this article as a 'moral hospital', offering girls the opportunity to become good and useful citizens.
Part of the girls' training in citizenship included producing items for sale to raise funds for Salvation Army Homes. The West Australian reported that the girls had made 'fancy work, jams and pickles, woolen novelties and animals, painting, produce, cake, sweets, baby wear, refreshments and ice creams' for sale at the 1938 Seaforth Garden Fete and Work Display. The Secretary of the Child Welfare Department attended that fete and was quoted as saying that departmental officers regularly inspected the Home and 'had no complaint to find' with it, except for improvements which could not be made because of a lack of money.
The Seaforth Salvation Army Girls' Home closed in 1942. At that stage, there were some girls with intellectual disabilities at Seaforth. These girls were transferred to the Salvation Army's Graceville Centre in Highgate.
By July 1945, the Seaforth Salvation Army Girls' Home building was renovated to accommodate boys aged 2-6 years in the Seaforth Toddlers Home (1945-1949). When the Toddlers Home closed, it became an aged care facility.
The Seaforth Home was mentioned in the Lost Innocents Report (2001) as an institution involved in the migration of children to Australia.
17 October 2023
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00205
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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