The Newcastle Industrial School was established on 6 August 1867 in the former Military Barracks on the Newcastle Government Domain. It was a place of detention for girls charged with neglect, wandering, street-trading or being 'uncontrollable'. From 1869 the site was shared with the Newcastle Reformatory School for Females. In 1871 the institution was relocated and became the Biloela Industrial School at Cockatoo Island.
The Newcastle Industrial School for Females was established under the Destitute Children Act (also known as the Industrial Schools Act) of 1866. It was Australia's first industrial school for girls; that is, an institution defined by legislation and paid for by the government as a place of detention for children charged with neglect, wandering, street-trading or being 'uncontrollable'. It used the convict-built Military Barracks building.
193 girls and young women were sent to the Industrial School and Reformatory between 1867 and 1871. The first inmate was sent to the school on 31 August 1867. The institution operated until 1871 under the Comptroller of Prisons. On 19 January 1869, a reformatory was established at the same site, this created twin institutions.
Staffing proved to be a problem for the institutions, as did the behaviour of inmates. According to historian Jane Ison:
The Newcastle site was open to public view and the inmates, almost all unused to having to follow rules, protested their confinement with wild rioting, obscene language, lewd behaviour and frequent escapes.
The resulting public outcry forced the government to close the institutions in March 1871 and relocate the industrial school and reformatory to Cockatoo Island (Biloela).
The barracks building became part of the James Fletcher Hospital. In 2011 this was known as the Watt Street Centre.
1867 - 1871 Newcastle Industrial School for Females
1871 - 1887 Biloela Industrial School, Cockatoo Island
1887 - 1912 Parramatta Girls Industrial School
1912 - 1946 Parramatta Girls Training Home
1946 - 1974 Parramatta Girls Training School
Sources used to compile this entry: Djuric, Bonney, Abandon All Hope: a history of Parramatta Industrial School, Chargan, Georges Terrace, 2008, 238 pp; Hardy, Anne, 'Videocast - Constructing a Culture of Government Care in Australia 1801-2012', in Newcastle's Old Government Domain (1804-): A University of Newcastle Coal River Working Party Initiative, University of Newcastle Coal River Working Party, University of Newcastle Cultural Collections, 2012, http://governmenthousebarracks1804.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/videocast-constructing-a-culture-of-government-care-in-australia-1801-2012/; Ison, Jane, The Newcastle Industrial School for Girls: Their infamy is lost to history, Jane Ison, 2012, http://nis.wikidot.com/; 'Kamballa', 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/460; 'Shaftesbury Reformatory', 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/461.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 19 January 2012, Last modified: 20 July 2017