Sister Kate's Children's Cottage Home, Queen's Park was established by mid-1934 by Sister Kate Clutterbuck, when she moved with seven Aboriginal children from the Children's Cottage Home. By July 1935 all children remaining at Children's Cottage Home had moved to Sister Kate's Children's Cottage Home. From the outset, the Home received grants and children from the Aborigines Department and subsequent departments responsible for Aboriginal matters in Western Australia. The focus of the Home was on light-skinned children.
In 1935, a non-denominational management committee, Children's Cottage Home Incorporated was formed to govern the Home.
In his 1936 Annual Report (p.16), the Chief Protector of Aborigines gave some history about the development of the Home (which he called the 'Children's Cottage Home Queen's Park): there were two cottages, with 'dormitories, staff rooms, sitting room, bathrooms, verandahs and sleeping-out places' with room for 17 children in each cottage.
In 1939, the Commissioner for Native Affairs (Annual Report 1938, p.15) challenged the belief that children at Sister Kate's were 'mostly the offspring of our trained girls sent out to service and returned to us in trouble'. Such beliefs were, he said, 'hopelessly incorrect to say the least of it'. His next remarks give an insight into removal of children who were sent to Sister Kate's and the authorities' justification of it: 'The fact is that these children come mainly from pastoral stations and have been gathered in often with their mothers to give the little ones a better chance in life than their mothers have had'. This better chance was disputed by 'Millicent' in the Bringing them home report (pp.99-102). Millicent found being placed in Sister Kate's left her with 'an unrepairable scar of loneliness, mistrust, hatred and bitterness'. Oral histories from other people who were placed at Sister Kate's relate a range of experiences, good and bad.
During World War II, children were evacuated to the Greenbushes Hostel from February 1942 until 1946 and Memorial Cottage, Roleystone from May 1942 until 1944. Caretakers remained at the Queen's Park site and children later returned there.
Writing in 1945, the Commissioner for Native Affairs (Annual Report, 1944 p.12) gave a description of the Home. And the assimilation policy it followed:
'The Home is more commonly known as Sister Kate's Home. It undertakes the care of quadroon children, and rears them according to white standards. During the year fourteen quadroon children were admitted to the Home, making a total of 146 admissions since the Home was established. Thirteen of these have been withdrawn for various reasons, mainly because of their unsuitability, and seven of the older children are now paid assistants at the Home. Besides these, one child has been adopted, four are in the Forces, and eleven are now engaged in outside employment, leaving a total of 110 children at the Home at the 30th June, 1944, exclusive of the seven paid assistants. Of the 110 inmates, 84 were supported by subsidies from the Department, eight were maintained by the Child Welfare Department, and 18 were maintained by parents either by Court Maintenance Orders or by voluntary payments.'
Sister Kate died in 1946. After her death, the Home continued under the leadership of Ruth Lefroy. In 1947 a farm school for older boys from Sister Kate's opened. It was called 'Kenwick Farm', was located on Spring Road and closed in 1961.
In 1948, 'Sister Kate's Children's Home Inc' was the new legal name given to the Children's Cottage Home Incorporated to honour its late founder.
In 1955, Ruth Lefroy arranged for Sister Kate's to be transferred to the Presbyterian Church. The first official step in this direction was achieved in 1955 when a provisional council was appointed by the Presbyterian Church and in May 1956 the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church became the controlling body. At that time, there were nine cottages on a 23 acre site at Queen's Park.
In June 1977, all Children's Homes controlled by the Presbyterian Church came under the control of the Uniting Church. Sister Kate's Home was one of these. In 1980, Sister Kate's amalgamated with the Methodist Training Centre at Mogumber and became Sister Kate's Child and Family Services.
Sister Kate's Home was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.
13 April 2022
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/wa/WE00684
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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