La Grange Mission, at La Grange Bay south of Broome, was established in 1955 when the La Grange Bay Ration Depot was transferred to the Pious Society of Missions (Pallottines). A school was established by the Pallotines in 1957, and until 1963 children at La Grange remained guardians of the Commissioner of Native Welfare. In 1968 there were more than 100 children under 16 years old. In 1984 La Grange Mission became the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community La Grange Inc and its role in institutional out-of-home care ceased.
La Grange Mission, 200 kilometres south of Broome, was established on 1 January 1955 when the La Grange Bay Ration Depot was transferred from the Department of Native Welfare to the Pious Society of Missions (Pallottines) for a mission. It was intended to train and employ Aboriginal youth and adults on a self-sustaining station.
In 1957, the Sisters of St John of God came to La Grange to teach at the school and from 1959, lay missionaries also helped in the school, hospital and on the mission generally. In 1960 the school was handed over to the Education Department.
Children at La Grange were under the guardianship of the Commissioner of Native Welfare until 1963.
In 1968 there were 250 people at the mission, with around half of them under 16 years old.
The Department for Community Welfare (DCW) took over the child welfare responsibilities of the Department of Native Welfare in 1972 and the Annual Reports of the DCW show that a boys' hostel was built in 1974, and there were renovations to the recreation centre, water supply and other facilities in the following years.
By 1982, the La Grange Aboriginal community was moving towards independence and in 1984 the Bidyadanga Aboriginal Community Inc took control.
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.114-115', Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, https://signposts.communities.wa.gov.au//pdf/pdf.aspx; Longworth, Alison, Was it worthwhile?, An historical analysis of five women missionaries and their encounters with the Nyungar people of south-west Australia, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 2005, http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/163/2/02Whole.pdf. pp.298-299.; National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, A Piece of the Story: A Research Project Undertaken by the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/A-Piece-of-the-Story-Directory-of-Catholic-Records-.pdf; State Solicitor's Office of Western Australia, 'pp.77-78', Guide to Institutions Attended by Aboriginal People in Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20140126131607/http://www.dpc.wa.gov.au/lantu/MediaPublications/Documents/Guide-to-Institutions-attended-by-Aboriginal-people-in-WA-2005.pdf; 'Western Australia Protectors Reports 1899-1959', in To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, National Library of Australia, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/remove-and-protect/western-australia. Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1959 p.9..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 27 January 2015