The Mintaro Reformatory Home for Girls at Monegeetta, Lancefield was established in 1903 by the Methodist Home Mission Department to take the girls from the Brookside Reformatory at Cape Clear when it closed in 1903. This action took the Wesleyan church into reformatory work. It closed on 31 March 1912.
The Mintaro Reformatory Home for Girls was established in the mansion called Mintaro, on a farming property of 273 acres. The Methodist Home Mission Department responded to the opportunity to establish a private girls' reformatory when the secretary of the Neglected Children's Department indicated that there were many girls who required the shelter and training of such an establishment. The Department was prepared to send them to Mintaro from the Police Courts, where they came as 'first offenders', thus saving them from their 'evil' environment. If the cases were dismissed the view was that these girls would inevitably end up as criminals.
The Home initially housed 15 girls, with a capacity to accommodate up to 40. The girls received instruction in 'regular and orderly habits.' They acquired dairying, cooking, laundry, house cleaning, sewing and knitting skills in order to equip them to work on farms and ultimately to manage their own homes. The aim also was to encourage them to a Christian life. The Home Mission committee stressed that Mintaro was a Home and not an institution.
By 1910 Mintaro received no girls which led to its closure on 31 March 1912. It became clear that girls were not being arrested as there was a difficulty in getting convictions. If a girl could prove that she was in paid work or was being supported by her parents, the case broke down.
On its closure, 147 girls had lived in the Home with an average age of 14 years. The Committee stated that the work would continue, but in a less expensive setting. They believed that these girls were saved from being committed to gaol.
Sources used to compile this entry: Howe, Renate; Swain, Shurlee, All God's Children: a centenary history of the Methodist Homes for Children and the Orana Peace Memorial Homes, Acorn Press, Kambah, ACT, 1989. pp 36, 37.; Methodist Home Mission Society Vic., Report of the Methodist Home Missions in Victoria for the year ending September ... : with an account of receipts & expenditure .., Methodist Home Mission Society Vic, Melbourne, 1902-1918.
Prepared by: Rosemary Francis
Created: 20 November 2013, Last modified: 18 January 2019