The Industrial Schools Act  introduced State coercion into the 'childcare' of the colony, and industrial schools became legal enforcers for other welfare institutions. This thesis provides an account of two industrial schools in nineteenth and early twentieth century New South Wales, focusing on the children and the lives they lived within the institutions and relying heavily upon primary sources. NSS Vernon enrolled destitute, neglected and delinquent boys. The curriculum, combined with an elaborate system of rewards, proved effective as reformative agents and after 1911 the ship's coercive function was taken over by other reformatory schools and by a system of probation. About one third of girls admitted to ISG Newcastle were older, sexually delinquent girls. Inappropriate site, inadequate preparation, insufficient and untrained staff, lack of suitable curriculum and denial of support from the Colonial Secretary led to total failure of the school. Physical and verbal abuse was in evidence at Newcastle and resurfaced after the change of enrolments to mostly older girls about the time of the school's transfer to Parramatta in 1887. After 1905 committals were aimed at maintaining street order and parental authority, to house the 'uncontrollables' and 'incompetents' and to provide a lock hospital for the control of venereal disease. The expressed purpose of the school to provide 'good useful women' dovetailed neatly with the introduction of probation, mostly for boys, which was enforced 'through the mother'.