Hillcrest Children's Home, run by the Christian Brethren, opened in West Hobart in 1966. It was an approved children's Home that took wards of state and children under the Residential Domestic Assistance Scheme. It closed in 1984.
The Chief Secretary, Brian Miller, officially opened Hillcrest Children's Home on 1 April 1967 before a crowd of 150 people. It had been an approved children's home under the Child Welfare Act 1960 since October 1966. About seven children already lived there.
A Committee of five to nine members, one of whom was the Superintendent, ran the Home. They were all members of the Christian Brethren. In consultation with the Committee, the Superintendent and Matron accepted children into the Home. The Committee appointed residential staff but the Superintendent could appoint and dismiss casual staff.
The Superintendent and Matron were also known as houseparents. They had two children of their own and planned to adopt another. The Superintendent worked full time at an insurance company. The houseparents were the only residential staff. Later they employed some people to help with the cleaning so that the Matron could spend more time with the children. Members of the Christian Brethren baby sat and did other voluntary work at the Home. According to the Child Welfare Officer who assessed it, the houseparents did not want any additional residential staff in case it upset the 'family atmosphere'. The Officer noted that this might be 'idealistic', but less so than it seemed because they had already run another children's home.
According to the Child Welfare Officer's report, the Home was in a large two storey weatherboard house built in about 1900. It was not 'ideal' but 'adequate and comfy'. The house had one main staircase and nine rooms with accommodation for a total of 11 children, not counting those belonging to the houseparents. On the ground floor, there were three children's bedrooms, including one on the verandah. Upstairs, the Home had two children's bedrooms. The houseparents slept downstairs close to the babies and younger children. Outdoors, there was a concrete area for wheeled toys, swings and bars, a lawn, flower beds, and 'a wild area for more adventurous play'.
Old and new clothing came from donations to the Home. The Child Welfare Officer wrote in her report that:
We discussed the necessity of teaching children how to choose clothes wisely, but shopping with adults' assistance. The [houseparents] were impressed by this idea and promised to consider how ways and means could be devised to ensure this part of their training.
The houseparents also followed the Child Welfare Officer's suggestion that the children go to a variety of schools so that they were not one easily identifiable group.
Visiting was at 'specified' times with 24 hours notice. Each child or family within the Home could have a maximum of three visitors at a time. Visitors could not give the children gifts directly. Instead they had to hand them over to the houseparents who then used them 'at their discretion for the benefit of the children'.
According to the Constitution, the Home had two main objectives:
1. The prime object of the Home is that each child in its care shall not only experience family love but also learn to love the Lord Jesus Christ and read the Bible. Each child in the Home shall be treated as a family member and accordingly worship together as a family with the assemblies of the Christian Brethren.
2. The temporal object of the Home is to provide family care for children of either sex, preferably under 10 but consideration will be given to children of all ages in keeping with the circumstances at the time. Children who need the care of the Home may be accepted without regard to colour or creed.
When the Home closed, the houseparents took the remaining 'family members' who appear to have grown up, with them to their new home in Gordon which is in the Huon Valley. The house was auctioned on 18 February 1984. The Mercury advertisement for the auction described the house as:
Used as a large family residence for some years ... Obtaining excellent outlook over Hobart city to harbour, requiring some maintenance but offering very substantial accommodation as a large family home, or potential for conversion subject to council approval.
In 2013, Hillcrest is a private home.
No records of Hillcrest appear to have survived.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Hillcrest Home opened', Examiner, 3 April 1967, p. 3; 'Women's Conference Hobart, 1968', Assembly Challenge, December 1968 to January 1969, p. 9; Department of Social Welfare: report for the year ended 30 June 1970, Department of Social Welfare, Hobart, 1970; Department for Community Welfare: annual report for the year ended 30 June 1984, Department for Community Welfare, Hobart, 1984; Ombudsman Tasmania, Review of claims of abuse from adults in state care as children - Final Report - Phase 2, June 2006.
Prepared by: Caroline Evans
Created: 21 November 2011, Last modified: 12 February 2019