The Myilly Point Home, also known as the Darwin Half-Caste Home, was established in 1924 in a government residence, just outside the Kahlin Compound fence. The aim of the Home was to separate children from the Compound from adults. Initially the Home accommodated 21 girls under the care of a matron. The Myilly Point Home closed in 1939 when the children were moved to a new accommodation in the Bagot Aboriginal Reserve.
The Myilly Point Home, also known as the Darwin Half-Caste Home, opened in 1924. The Home was established as the result of a 1923 Inquiry into the Kahlin Compound which recommended that children, particularly those regarded as 'half-caste', be separated from adults. This proposal fitted with government policies of the time which advocated that children with fair skin be separated from their Aboriginal parents and trained to become part of white society.
Initially 21 girls were removed from the Compound to the Home which was established in a government residence at Myilly Point, just outside the Compound fence. They were under the care of a matron who was responsible for all aspects of the running of the Home, including teaching. Boys were also initially placed in the Home which was constantly overcrowded. In the late 1920s, to alleviate this, boys were moved to Pine Creek and then to Alice Springs.
Although newspaper reports applauded the work of the matron and the cleanliness of the Home, former residents remember a lack of food, rigid discipline and corporal punishment.
Files of correspondence and reports on the Home held at the National Archives show that conditions were often criticised, as was the restrictive discipline of the girls. A report written by a government accountant described the 'tragedy of the situation' in the Home in August 1936:
The home is an ordinary Darwin house (exactly the same in size as that of the Superintendent of the Compound and his wife next door). It has been gutted - leaving one large centre room with four openings and with a verandah on three sides.There are 44 children housed in the building, the large room and two sides of a verandah being used for sleeping accommodation and the other side for school purposes.There is one common cupboard in which all the belongings of the children are placed and there is not one thing to make the place attractive or to look anything but the barracks that it is. It is impossible for a child to show any individuality or to take any pride whatever in the home.
Despite such conditions, the Home continued to operate even after the residents of the Kahlin Compound were removed to the newly established Bagot Reserve in 1938. When the Kahlin area was required for defence purposes in 1939, the Home was finally closed and the residents moved to accommodation in the Bagot Aboriginal Reserve.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Northern Territory: Protectors /Administration / Welfare Branch reports', in To remove and protect: laws that changed Aboriginal lives, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, 2010, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/northern-territory; Austin, Tony, I can picture the old home so clearly: The Commonwealth and 'Half-caste' Youth in the Northern Territory 1911-1939, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1993, 280 pp; Cummings, Barbara, Take this child: From Kahlin Compound to the Retta Dixon Children's Home, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 1990, 139 pp; Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Commonwealth of Australia, 1997, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/pdf/social_justice/bringing_them_home_report.pdf; F1, 1938/366 Kahlin Compound. Aboriginal Compound & Half-caste Home, 1933 - 1938.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 8 February 2011, Last modified: 7 November 2018