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Victoria - Organisation

Winlaton (1956 - c. 1991)

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    Girls' Dining Room, "Leawarra" Open Section at "Winlaton" Youth Training Centre, c. 1970
    Details

From
1956
To
c. 1991
Categories
Children's Home, Government-run, Home, Hostel, Reception Centre and Youth Training Centre
Alternative Names
  • Winlaton Juvenile School (Also known as)
  • Winlaton Reception Centre (Also known as)
  • Winlaton Youth Training Centre (Also known as)

Winlaton, in Nunawading, was established in 1956 as the main state-run institution for adolescent girls. Previously (from 1951 to 1953) the building was a Home, also called Winlaton, run by the Mission of St James and St John for women with venereal diseases. Winlaton Juvenile School received its first placements in 1956. Many female juvenile offenders were committed to Winlaton by the courts; however, throughout its history Winlaton housed many girls and young women who had not committed a crime. Winlaton had a training school, and by 1959 it also housed a reception centre (Winbirra) and a hostel (Leawarra). In 1991 it was renamed the Nunawading Youth Residential Service.

Details

The Winlaton home run by the Mission of St James and St John from 1951 was taken over by the Children's Welfare Department in 1953. That year, the Department's annual report stated that:

... during the year it was decided to erect at "Winlaton", Nunawading, a training and rehabilitation centre for delinquent girls. In three sections accommodating fifteen girls in each and with all the necessary facilities for training, education and treatment, this establishment will equip the Department with the means to cope with its teen-age problem girls.

Following the completion of construction work, Winlaton Youth Training Centre received girls and young women from 1956 onwards, and became the main state-run institution for female adolescents.

In 1956, the Department set out the objectives of Winlaton in its annual report:

Winlaton's objectives are, broadly, to teach a girl:- (i) How to live as a well-adjusted, self-reliant member of the community; (ii) a craft or skill; (iii) how to use her leisure hours; (iv) to know and care for herself and, indeed, to care for others later on as a home-maker.

Girls were accommodated in three cottages at Winlaton, each housing up to 15 girls, in single rooms. The cottages were known as 'Goonyah', 'Warrina' and 'Kooringal'. The Department described the system at Winlaton in 1956: 'Promotion is made from one cottage to another. Conversely, of course, demotion occurs sometimes'.

Before the establishment of Winlaton, 'delinquent' girls who were Catholic were placed at the Abbotsford and Oakleigh convents of the Good Shepherd. Similar placements for Protestant girls were not available at the time. Consequently, these young women were mostly accommodated at the Remand and Reformatory Section of the Department's Royal Park Depot (known as Turana from 1955).

In order to reduce over-crowding at Turana, the Department opened its own purpose built institution for 'delinquent girls', the 'Winlaton Girls' Training School' at Nunawading in 1956.

In June 1957, the 'Goonyah' section of Winlaton was declared to be a reception centre for females aged 14 to 21 years. From 1959, the reception centre was in a building known as Winbirra.

The Leawarra Girls' Hostel was added to the Winlaton complex in 1959. The Hostel helped with the overcrowding at Winlaton, and also functioned as a 'privilege' section. The Department described Leawarra in 1960:

Leawarra … has proved itself ideally suited to the accommodation of girls who have completed their training, and are worthy of a trial in private employment to enable them to adjust to proper social standards during a period of unsteadiness until they are capable of managing for themselves, or returning home.

From the 1960s, the general process of de-institutionalisation, combined with a policy commitment to diversion in the field of juvenile justice, led to significant reductions in young people detained.

Nevertheless the living conditions for the girls who lived in this institution had deteriorated markedly. In 1981 Deborah Forster reported in The Age newspaper that Winlaton was 'run down' and 'like the teenagers who live there, the institution looks tired.' Even Leawarra, the more homely open hostel section looked neglected.

Winlaton was overcrowded and understaffed. In an institution designed to hold 95, there were 104 in February 1981. The girls suffered from boredom and as the superintendent observed: 'when you put young women into an institution that is neglected they find even less reason to care about themselves'.

The Winlaton Youth Training Centre for girls (aged 14 - 21 years) had a population of about 100 in the mid-1970s, which reduced to about 70 in the mid-1980s and about 25 at the time of its closure and relocation to Parkville in 1991.

Location

1956 - 1991
Location - Winlaton was located in Springvale Road, Nunawading. Location: Nunawading

Timeline

 1956 - c. 1991 Winlaton
       1991 - 1993? Nunawading Youth Residential Service
             1999 - Melbourne Youth Residential Centre

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Davis, Donna with Amy Willesee, Sins of the mothers: a memoir of abandonment, love and redemption, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2006. Details
  • Fawdry, Merlene, The little mongrel - free to a good home, A personal account of 20th century legislative neglect and institutional abuse of children, 2011 edn, Fixwrite, 2007. Details
  • Spivey, Margaret, Defying the gatekeeper: one girl's true story of resistance and rebellion, In this memoir, the author describes her experiences as a ward of the state in Victoria, in a number of institutions in the 1950s and 1960s., Jo Jo Publishing, Melbourne, 2010. Details
  • Willich, Ray, The troubled ones: sexually and emotionally abused children, Hill of Content, Melbourne, 1979. Details

Reports

  • Children's Welfare Department and Reformatory Schools. Report of the Secretary and Inspector., Government Printer, Melbourne, 1924 - 1954. 1953, 1954. Details
  • Community Services Victoria, Statewide Services Redevelopment Team, Discussion paper on the redevelopment of services for children and young people in Allambie, Baltara and Winlaton, Community Services Victoria, 1986. Details
  • James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001. Details

Theses

Online Resources

Photos

Title
Christmas concert at "Winlaton"
Type
Image

Details

Title
Softball, 'Winlaton'
Type
Image

Details

Title
Off to school at "Winlaton"
Type
Image
Date
1958

Details

Title
Winbirra girls' remand centre at Nunawading
Type
Image
Date
1959

Details

Title
The commercial classroom at "Winlaton" Youth Training Centre
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970

Details

Title
The art instructress prepares for a clay modelling session in the art room, "Winlaton" Youth Training Centre
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970

Details

Title
Girls' Dining Room, "Leawarra" Open Section at "Winlaton" Youth Training Centre
Type
Image
Date
c. 1970

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Submission number 130 and attachment', in Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices: submissions received by the Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions; 'Submission number 271', in Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices: submissions received by the Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 2011, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/commcontribformerforcedadoption/submissions; Forster, Deborah, A suffocating summer in Winlaton: Depressing catalogue of neglect, The Age, Melbourne, 1981, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pZszAAAAIBAJ&sjid=uZIDAAAAIBAJ&pg=3018%2C789077&dq=winlaton+youth+training+centre&hl=en; James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001; Victorian Government, 'Victorian Government Submission to the Senate Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care (Submission 173)', in Inquiry into Institutional Care: Submissions received as at 17/03/05, July 2003, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist.

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill