The Alexandra Home for Women was the new name given in 1916 to the House of Mercy in Highgate, Perth. The Alexandra Home was run by a private committee of management and continued primarily as a maternity home for unmarried mothers, with some married women also admitted. By 1950, it was known as The Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies (Inc) and Mothercraft Training School, remaining in the Highgate premises.
The Alexandra Home for Women was a maternity home that had commenced in 1891 as the House of Mercy, changing its name in 1916. It was commonly known as the Alexandra Home.
In its early years the Alexandra Home accommodated not only unmarried women who were sent by family or self-referred, but also married women who paid for their confinements, and young women who were referred through child welfare, health or, occasionally, Aboriginal welfare authorities. The policy of the Home was to admit unmarried women for their first confinement only.
From 1936, babies were born at the King Edward Memorial Hospital, and mothers and babies came to the Alexandra Home afterwards. Writing its history in The Open Door (1980), Jean Lang reported (p.46) that 36 babies were adopted from the Alexandra Home in 1949: 'with careful checking as to suitability they were placed into good, comfortable homes'. Not all babies were adopted, according to Lang: 'Although there was a long waiting list for adoptions, the policy of the Home was that mothers should keep their babies if possible'.
Between September and December 1917 there 6 women were admitted to the Home. In 1922, there were 23 admissions, with 14 babies born. A new nursery was opened in1924 to provide extra space. By 1945, 88 women and 58 babies were admitted.
The single women who were admitted to the Home worked in the laundry, which was run on a commercial basis as a source of income for the Home until 1934.
In December 1949, the Alexandra Home received its formal Registration of Mothercraft Training. A new wing, named after the Home's patron Lady Mitchell, was built to accommodate trainees.This was Western Australia's first Mothercraft Training Scheme.
By 1950, the Home became known as The Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies (Inc) and Mothercraft Training School. It remained in the Lincoln Street premises in Highgate.
1891 - 1916 House of Mercy
1916 - 1950 Alexandra Home for Women
1950 - 1956 The Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies (Inc) and Mothercraft Training School
1956 - 1989 Ngal-a Mothercraft Home and Training Centre Inc
Sources used to compile this entry: Grant, Beryl, 'Ngala', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 635-636; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'Table 1: Some Statistics on Young Children at the Alexandra Home 1936-59', Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, http://signposts.cpfs.wa.gov.au/pdf/pdf.aspx; Lang, Jean, The Open Door: a History of Loving Care for Families, House of Mercy-Alexandra Home-Ngala, 1890-1980, Ngala Mothercraft Home & Training Centre Inc., Perth, 1980. pp. 25, 36-41, 46, 48, 50-51, 61-62.; History, 2009, http://www.ngala.com.au/About-Ngala/History.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 7 October 2014