Gosford Training School was the new name given in 1923 to the Gosford Farm Home for Boys. It was an industrial school for boys aged 13 to 18 who were committed for 'serious offences' or had been deemed 'unsuitable for training under the conditions of the Mittagong Farm Home'. It was run by the Child Welfare Department. Gosford Training School became Mount Penang Training School for Boys in 1946.
The change of name from Gosford Farm Home for Boys to Gosford Training School followed the introduction of the Child Welfare Act 1923. When the new Act was introduced the Gosford facility was transferred from the Department of Public Instruction to the Child Welfare Department.
The Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department in 1930 set out the principles behind the Gosford Training School
... the elder boys are admitted, and by a process of character- building consisting of drill and individual training based on each boy's psychological peculiarities, pass through successive grades or classifications in the institution until it is thought they are once more fit for a trial on conditional discharge ... As regards the future, it is intended to develop the training of the boys to a greater degree in manual work, particularly in regard to working in wood and metal - also, to make some training possible for wards over 14 years of age before apprenticing them to employers.
It also described some of the routine and the work the boys did:
On admission a lad is allotted to No. 1 company, which occupies No. 1 dormitory, and he has to earn his transfer from there up to No. 4 company and dormitory before he is considered as ready for release on probation … The training consists of orchard, farm and dairy work, roadmaking, levelling, clearing, tree felling, and other work incidental to a farm. A manual training class is in operation, and each lad must take part in organised physical training and sport and learn to swim.
It has been noted that many of the lads admitted during these years were in a poor physical condition, many of them suffering from malnutrition, and steps had to be taken to build them up to the standard of health maintained by the Department. Many of them had been roaming the country looking for work and had endured severe privation. As a result, on admission they were weakened in physique.
The regime at Gosford was condemned by an inquiry held in 1934 by JE McCulloch. McCulloch reported that the punishment regime at Gosford included allowing the older boys to administer corporal punishment to younger boys, without supervision by staff. This included older boys forming a gauntlet, through which boys under punishment were obliged to run while the older boys hit them. The staff were untrained, and some McCulloch considered were mentally unstable. McCulloch also observed the staff allowed boys to work in unsafe situations, such as standing on the edge of giant coppers to boil laundry. The regime does appear to have changed after McCulloch's report, but the discipline practices he wanted stopped at Gosford were allowed to continue at Gosford's annexe, Riverina Welfare Farm for Boys at Yanco.
The site of Gosford Training School is, in 2014, part of Mt Penang Parklands.
1894 - c. 1908 Carpentarian Reformatory for Boys
1908 - 1912 Brush Farm Reformatory
1911 - 1923 Gosford Farm Home for Boys
1923 - 1945 Gosford Training School
1946 - 1987 Mount Penang Training School for Boys
1988 - 1991 Mount Penang Detention Centre
1991 - 1999 Mt Penang Juvenile Justice Centre
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; McCulloch, J.E., Child Welfare Department : report on the general organisation, control and administration of, with special reference to state welfare institutions, Alfred James Kent, Government Printer, Sydney, 1934, 142 pp; Parry, Naomi, 'Such a longing': black and white children in welfare in New South Wales and Tasmania, 1880-1940, Department of History, University of New South Wales, 2007, 361 pp, http://hdl.handle.net/1959.4/40786; Rubie, Valerie, Sent to the Mountain: A History of Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre, Closure Committee of Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre, Gosford, 2003, 236 pp.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 5 June 2012, Last modified: 14 September 2018