The Fannie Bay Receiving Home opened in Darwin in 1956. It was the first government run institution specifically established for children placed under the care of the Director of Welfare. Prior to its establishment the majority of these children were placed in interstate institutions. In May 1957, just under one year after it opened, the Home was destroyed by fire. A new Receiving Home was opened in an alternative building in Darwin in July 1957.
The Receiving Home was a four bedroomed house with accommodation for up to eight children supervised by a matron and an assistant. Children were placed at the Home after they were taken into care but before they had appeared in court. Once officially committed into the care of the Director of Welfare they were generally transferred to other institutions interstate or into foster care.
The fire which occurred on the afternoon of 16 May 1957 caused the death of one of the six children cared for at the Home, a two and a half month old baby girl. An inquest into the death of the baby and the cause of the fire was held in July 1957. Although the Coroner found that the cause of the fire was accidental, he still committed the Matron for trial in the Supreme Court for manslaughter. However, the Attorney General chose not to proceed with the case.
The Fannie Bay Receiving Home was severely damaged by the fire, so the Welfare Branch sought an alternative residence. During this time the remaining five children were cared for in private homes and in the Retta Dixon Home.
The Northern Territory Administration offered the use of a former departmental residence in Mitchell Street and the new Receiving Home Darwin opened on 15 July 1957.
Sources used to compile this entry: Commonwealth of Australia, The Northern Territory Annual Report for the period 1st JULY, 1956, to 30th JUNE, 1957, Canberra, 1958, http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/catalogue_resources/59315.pdf; 'State Children's Council Annual Reports (1955 - 1959)', NAA: F1, 1956/2168; 'State Children's Council Receiving Home for State Children', 1954-1957, NAA: F1, 1955/1178.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 4 April 2012, Last modified: 17 May 2023