St Heliers was established at Muswellbrook by the Child Welfare Department in 1945. It was a rural training home, organised on the cottage system, on 700 acres. Some children were transferred from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and placed in this Home. It was initially for boys aged 14 to 18 years who were thought to benefit from, and prefer, training for rural and farm work. In 1973 the property became a care facility for both boys and girls, housing 92 children. St Heliers closed in 1986 and in 1989 was converted to an adult correctional facility.
According to NSW Corrective Services, St Heliers was part of the original St Heliers property, which was settled by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Dumaresq and named after a town on the Isle of Jersey. The property passed through several owners before being bought by the State Government in 1945. It was used as a child welfare institution until its closure in 1986.
There were at least two, and later, five 'cottages' as St Heliers, each run by a married couple, including 'Allyn' and 'Paterson' cottages. In 1958, the Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department described the training regime at St. Heliers', as being divided into three 'parties':
- practical work in agriculture, farm machinery, cropping
- instruction in dairying, pig raising and poultrying,
- instruction in the care of fat stock (sheep and cattle).
According to a Child Welfare Department Annual Report of 1966 St Heliers was 'a training school for the more amenable delinquent boys'. It was a working farm:
In addition to Hereford cattle, St Heliers has a Guernsey herd and dairy, Corriedale sheep, a piggery, poultry run, and several acres under cultivation, providing occupational training in many aspects of rural work.
In 1973, changes in ideas about working with 'delinquent' boys, and the growing need for accommodation for state wards, forced the Department of Youth and Community Services (YACS) to change St Heliers entirely. It was converted in November 1973 to a care facility for boys and girls, housing 92 children.
The property was purchased by Corrective Services from the Department of Youth and Community Services in 1988 and opened as an adult low security Correctional Centre in September 1989.
Sources used to compile this entry: Report of the Minister of Public Instruction on the work of the Child Welfare Department, Department of Education, Sydney, 1921-1931; 1935/36-1954/55; Report of the Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare for the year ended 30 June, Government Printer, Sydney, 1970/71-1972-73. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Report of the Department of Youth and Community Services for the year ended 30 June, New South Wales government, 1976-1988. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Annual Report: Department of Youth and Community Services, Government Printer, Sydney, 1980/81-1986/87; 'St Heliers', in Corrective Services New South Wales: Offender Management: Correctional Centres, Corrective Services NSW, 2014, http://www.correctiveservices.justice.nsw.gov.au/Pages/CorrectiveServices/custodial-corrections/table-of-correctional-centres/st_heliers.aspx; Barnet, Les; Whitchurch, P, Rehabilitation methods used at St. Heliers Training School for Boys near Muswellbrook, N.S.W., 1 film reel, 9 minutes, colour, 16mm. A copy of this film is at the State Library of New South Wales., New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, 1959; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp; Mustering the beef herd at St Heliers, Muswellbrook, a training school for the more amenable delinquent boys [original caption] [Image], Date: c. 1966; Parry, Naomi, 'Transfer of children from Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Norfolk Island to New South Wales (1941 - 1986)', in Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/act/biogs/AE00131b.htm; 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: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 19 March 2015