The Convent of the Good Shepherd was established in 1942 in a large home called 'The Pines' in Plympton. It was run by the Order of the Good Shepherd Sisters as a home for teenage girls. The first children admitted came from the Catholic Girls' Home at Parkside when it closed in 1943. In 1974 'The Pines' ceased to operate as a home for children.
In 1941 the Good Shepherd Sisters were asked by the Archbishop of Adelaide to establish a home in Adelaide for teenage girls with 'behavioural problems'. The convent was established in 1942 in a large home at 336 Marion Road, Plympton, called 'The Pines'. This home was originally owned by the John Martin family. Set on nineteen acres of grounds, it was remodelled to accommodate up to eighty children. By December of 1942 The Convent of the Good Shepherd was proclaimed as a private reformatory school for girls. This proclamation enabled the Home to receive children who were wards of the State.
Three sisters from the Order of the Good Shepherd originally ran the home. Later they were joined by five more as the number of girls increased. The first seven children to be placed in the home were transferred from the care of the Sisters of St Joseph, when their home for Catholic girls at Parkside closed in January 1943.
Although the Good Shepherd sisters took in some girls privately, the majority were under the care of the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board as wards of the State. These girls were placed in the Home after being convicted for criminal offences, or after being found by a court to be 'uncontrollable' or 'neglected'.
Girls in the Home were required to spend their weekdays doing laundry work in the large laundry that was established at the Home. Income from the laundry went towards the running of the institution.
The government paid a weekly subsidy for each girl who was a ward of the State and it required the matron of the Home to advise the Board of happenings at the Home, for example if any girl became ill or absconded. By 1945 concerns were being raised by departmental probation officers about overcrowding at the Home.
In 1948 monthly visits to The Pines by officers from the department were instigated and their reports showed that girls at the Home were receiving very limited contact with the world outside the institution. Outings were very limited and no contact was allowed with any male friends, not even by letter. One officer raised concerns that girls were discouraged from talking about their hopes and plans for the future. After the reports the Archbishop agreed that some 'trust outings' for the girls would be introduced with supervision from government probation officers.
In 1956 with a change of matron at the Home the girls were divided into four groups of 12 to 15 girls with a nun acting as a house-mother to each group. New facilities and buildings were added to provide more space for recreation and training. Problems with overcrowding, however, recurred in the 1950s and 60s, with the matron phoning the department in 1961 to say there was no more room.
In 1965 there were 83 girls at The Pines. Approximately one third of these girls were wards of the State. By the early 1970s fewer girls were being placed at The Pines by the courts and the focus of the Home had become providing a home and training for 'delinquent' teenage girls. They were accommodated in three semi-independent living units.
In 1974, in an attempt to increase family involvement in decisions involving placement of girls at the Home, all referrals to The Pines were made through the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau.
However, also in 1974 a decision was taken to phase out residential care due to the increasing complexity of referrals and the limitations of large institutional buildings. At the end of 1974 the Convent of the Good Shepherd closed as a residential care facility.
Sources used to compile this entry: George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/; Mullighan, the Hon E.P., Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry: Allegations of sexual abuse and death from criminal conduct, presented to the South Australian Parliament by the Hon. E.P. Mullighan QC, Commisioner, Children in State Care Commission of Enquiry, Adelaide, South Australia, 2008, 564 pp, https://www.decd.sa.gov.au/doc/children-state-care-commission-inquiry-report-complete.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 4 February 2011, Last modified: 29 May 2015