Scarba House for Children at Bondi was opened in 1965. It was previously known as Scarba Welfare House for Children. It was run by the Benevolent Society of New South Wales and was a home for babies and small children. During the 1970s it developed a range of early childhood programmes. Scarba stopped providing residential care for children in 1986.
In 2006 the Benevolent Society published a history of Scarba, as part of its response to the Senate Inquiry into the Forgotten Australians. The report intended to set out the good and the bad, and acknowledge mistakes made in the care of children. One of these mistakes was to fail to keep adequate records of children from the period 1917-1965.
From the 1960s Scarba's record-keeping improved, and mismanagement and poor child care practices became evident. These included separating children from their siblings, a lack of toys and affection, and sending children to bed in the afternoon. In the 1970s Scarba opened a day care service and provided hospital care. Playgrounds and nursery toys were added. By the 1980s Scarba was operating as a family group home, and focussed on therapy for children and families.
In 1986 the Benevolent Society closed the home, to concentrate on offering day care and family support services. Scarba Family Centre then operated from the site.
1917 - 1920 Scarba Welfare House for Women and Children
1920 - 1965 Scarba Welfare House for Children
1965 - 1986 Scarba House for Children
Sources used to compile this entry: 'A tradition of caring', Australian Women's Weekly, 13 December 1978, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article55469816; 'Scarba House for Children (Historypin)', in Historypin: The Benevolent Society, The Benevolent Society, 2011, https://www.historypin.org/en/scarba-house-for-children; Hanson, Dallas, Why are they in children's homes: report of the ACOSS children's home intake survey, Australian Department of Social Services: Australian Council of Social Services, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1979, 83 pp; Rathbone, Ron, A Very Present Help: Caring for Australians Since 1813, State Library of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1994, 237 pp; Squires, Kathryn and Slater, Lisa, Living at Scarba Home for Children: A history of the Scarba Welfare House for Children (1917-1986) in the context of child welfare practice in New South Wales, Benevolent Society, Paddington, 2006, 56 pp; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 18 March 2011, Last modified: 8 October 2014