The Minda Remand Centre was opened in Lidcombe in May 1966, by the Child Welfare Department. It was a shelter and remand centre for children appearing before the children's courts. Minda comprised a court and separate residential sections and schools for boys and girls aged between eight and 18, who stayed on average four weeks. In 1976, when Taldree opened, Minda became a facility for boys aged 18 to 20. In 1991 Minda became a Juvenile Justice Centre, under the control of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
Minda was gazetted as a place of detention for children or young persons under the Child Welfare Act on 25 March 1966 and opened on 6 May. It was one of several remand homes (or shelters) in New South Wales where juveniles appearing before the courts could be held in custody. The word 'Minda' is an Aboriginal word that means 'shelter'.
In general, children or young persons were detained in shelters while awaiting transfer to an institution. Metropolitan shelters were also used to accommodate any institution inmates who are brought to Sydney for medical or psychological treatment. According to research done by the staff of the Northern Territory Department of Health, it was a place where children from the Northern Territory were sent.
Minda was on eight and a half acres of land on Rookwood Road, next to Lidcombe State Hospital. It comprised a children's court and child guidance clinic, senior and junior boys' sections, a girls' remand section, boys' and girls' schools, manual training rooms and a medical section for girls, which included a venereal diseases clinic (reflecting attitudes of the time, there was no venereal diseases clinic for boys). The boys' section held 60 and the girls' section held 30.
Louise Ellis, who spent time at Minda around 1970-1972, wrote to Find & Connect to share her memories of her time there, and the building:
Minda was a pretty boring set up, tall brick walls … you entered through a path that was between the boys and girls sections into the processing office and there were small holding rooms and the isolation cells in that block. In the other section you had the kitchen dining area and outside of that was a yard and the entrance to the dormitory. The dormitory was two or three sections of beds with low walls between sections and at one end was an office with [a] glass window so officers could look into [the] dormitory. Next to that there were one or two single rooms where the very violent were lock[ed] in, away from everyone else for the night, and off the main dormitory was the bathroom toilet area.
In 1976 Taldree opened and became a remand centre for young boys. Minda was then a remand centre for boys aged 18 to 20.
Criminologist Christine Howlett has written that the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody reported that, in 1981, an Aboriginal detainee died in Minda, from heart failure. The Commissioner was concerned that youth workers at the Centre were not trained to deal with a boy under physical and emotional stress, or to provide resuscitation.
In 1990 the Children's Court was removed from the complex. The following year Minda passed to the Department of Juvenile Justice and it became a juvenile justice centre. It was closed and demolished in 2003 and replaced by the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre, for young women.
1966 - 1991 Minda
1991 - 2003 Minda Juvenile Justice Centre
Sources used to compile this entry: DJJ E-Bulletin, Department of Juvenile Justice, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20140225223147/http://www.djj.nsw.gov.au/pdf_htm/publications/general/ebulletinaugust2005.pdf; 'Minda', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/575; 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; Email correspondence with Louise Ellis, former resident, 01-04-2014; Communication from Find & Connect South Australian team about research by staff of the Northern Territory Department of Health into institutions where children from the Northern Territory were sent, dated 10 April 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 19 March 2015