Struan Farm School was established by the government in 1946 at Naracoorte, South Australia as a farm training school for boys over school age. Initially eight boys from the Edwardstown Industrial School and the Boys' Reformatory Magill were transferred to the school. Although able to accommodate 30 boys, in the 1950s and 60s it averaged 18 to 20. In 1969, due to low numbers and rising costs, Struan Farm was closed in 1969.
Struan Farm School, Naracoorte was established on land purchased by the South Australian Government in 1946. The land was to be developed into a 'rural colony for the better class of delinquent boy and youth' from the government reformatory, as well as boys committed as neglected or destitute. Struan Farm was not proclaimed as an institution to which the court could commit boys, instead the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board took responsibility and transferred boys from other institutions. In 1947 a superintendent was appointed along with a small number of staff. A group of eight boys, selected from the Edwardstown Industrial School and the Boys' Reformatory Magill, were the first boys transferred to the new Farm School.
As well as working in the gardens on school land, boys also trained in various farming tasks and on farming equipment with local landowners. They were also educated through lectures and practical experience in care of stock and dairying. Experts from various departments of the government also visited to provide advice and assistance in rural matters, and teach maintenance of farm machinery and equipment.
In 1950 it was reported that the school could accommodate 30 boys, although during the 1950s and 1960s it was home for usually around 18 to 20 over school aged boys. Most boys were selected for training at the farm because of interest in, or experience of, rural life and if their general behaviour was satisfactory. Many city boys also trained at the school and were then able to move into farming jobs. After completing their education at the school, boys were placed in rural positions locally or in other areas of the State.
Boys were allowed a limited amount of freedom to attend church, picture theatres, sporting and other recreational events. Visitors were allowed with permission and boys occasionally returned to their own homes.
In 1969 the Department reported that it had been finding it increasingly difficult to maintain the required number of boys at the farm and that therefore the costs of maintaining boys there was very high. It recommended that the Farm School be discontinued. It was closed as a departmental institution in October 1969. The property was taken over by the Department of Agriculture and became a research station.
Struan Farm School was one of the institutions that came under scrutiny for allegations of abuse during the Children in State Care Inquiry 2004-2008. The majority of the reported incidents at Struan Farm School were from the 1960s.
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.childprotection.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/107201/children-in-state-care-commission-of-inquiry-introducation.pdf.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 10 February 2011, Last modified: 13 February 2014