The Adolescent Receiving Home was opened by the government in Darwin in 1961 as a temporary Receiving Home for older girls, mostly those in the care of the State. The run-down premises accommodated up to seven girls. In 1963 the Home closed and the girls were transferred to Palmerston House.
The need for a separate Home for Adolescent boys and girls was discussed in government correspondence during 1959 and 1960. At this time a new Receiving Home, which later became Dundas House, was being built in two stages. A Welfare Branch report in December 1960 noted that:
It has become necessary to cater in a greater way than anticipated for adolescent boys and girls. The Receiving Home Darwin has accommodated over 50 persons, 11 years of age and over… It has been found extremely difficult to cope with the older girls in the present circumstances. It has sometimes been necessary to make alternative arrangements for the accommodation of adolescent boys.
The Adolescent Receiving Home was established in temporary departmental premises in Mitchell Street, Darwin, on 26 July 1961. In 1961, all of the younger children resident at the Receiving Home, Darwin were moved to the newly built Dundas House. The older girls remained at the old Receiving Home for a short time before being moved to this new temporary location on Mitchell Street, referred to as the Adolescent Receiving Home.
Although the residence had been condemned and was scheduled to be demolished, in 1961 the Administrator agreed that it could be retained and used temporarily as a Receiving Home 'provided that no significant expenditure is incurred on repairs or alterations'.
Correspondence in 1962 suggests that the Home was in a poor state of repair. A memo from the Welfare Officer noted that floor boards inside the Home were 'collapsing' due to being 'eaten away by white ants'. The Matron had also complained that 'cockroaches and other pests are numerous' and required extermination.
By June 1963 an inspection of the Home revealed that the septic system at the Home was failing. A report from the Director of Welfare stated that 'effluent is overflowing to the grounds, and a most unhealthy odour pervades the immediate area'. This was attributed to the fact that the Home which was originally a departmental residence was catering for 11 young people, two live-in staff and a day staff member. The Director suggested that 'if this state of affairs is permitted to continue, some form of epidemic will result'.
As a direct response to these problems, a decision was made within weeks to vacate the premises and move the girls to a larger building on the corner of Kahlin Avenue and Temira Crescent. This Home became known as Palmerston House.
Sources used to compile this entry: NAA: F1, 1972/4158, Palmerston House - Receiving Home for Adolescent Girls, Darwin, 1960-1976.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 8 August 2012, Last modified: 27 September 2018