The Singleton Home was established by Retta Long and the Aborigines Inland Mission (AIM) in a rented house in Singleton in 1905. It started as a girls' home, although some adult members of the St Clair and Singleton communities stayed there. It became the Singleton Children's Home in 1910, after the Aborigines Protection Board began sending children it had removed from Aboriginal stations and reserves in NSW for 'training' to the AIM.
Historian Dr Christine Brett-Vickers has studied the careers of the Smiths, who were superintendents of the Home from 1910 to 1918. She wrote to Find & Connect in 2012:
There was never a formal name for the Home as I recall, as it was referred to as The Home in AIM correspondence. ... It was primarily a girls' home although members of the Aboriginal community (St Clair and Singleton) stayed there as well in the early years up until 1910 or thereabouts. Mothers who were lying in, so to speak, also stayed there ... several couples who had converted, or who were offering themselves as 'native helpers' also stayed there.
Retta Long was very clear that her dream was to found the [St Clair Mission] and to open a girls' home in the early years, ie 1906 to 1910. There is reference to this also in Our AIM & The Board agreed with the notion of the Home in 1906 and supplied rations>
As Naomi Parry has written, when the Aborigines Protection Act 1909 was passed the Aborigines Protection Board gained powers over all Aboriginal children in New South Wales. According to Dr Vickers, Retta Long found it expedient to turn the Singleton Home into a home for boys and girls:
George and Jennie Smith arrived in May 1910 and took over the management of the children's home. The Longs moved to Sydney where they both ran the [Aborigines Inland Mission] as a whole and continued to have babies. So the Smiths were left to manage the Home in conjunction with the board.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Our Aim newsletters', in Aborigines' Inland Mission newsletters, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 1907-1961, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/aborigines-inland-mission-newsletters/our-aim-newsletters; Brett-Vickers, Christine, 'A missionary in the family : George and Jennie Smith and Aboriginal people, New South Wales 1890-1920', PhD thesis, School of History, LaTrobe University, 2007; Gray, Anna, St Clair Mission, Australian Museum, Australian Museum, 2010. Also available at http://australianmuseum.net.au/St-Clair-Mission/; 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://unsworks.unsw.edu.au/fapi/datastream/unsworks:1369/SOURCE01?view=true; Radi, Heather, 'Long, Margaret Jane (Retta) (1878-1956)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/long-margaret-jane-retta-10857; Email correspondence from Dr Christine Brett-Vickers, 21-22 January 2013 and 15 May 2014.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 16 May 2014, Last modified: 16 May 2017