The Salvation Army Industrial School for Boys, Collie, opened in 1901 with fourteen boys sent from the Rottnest Reformatory. When the Industrial School closed in 1920, boys were sent to the Salvation Army's reformatory, Seaforth, in Gosnells. The site was later used for the Coolangatta Farm and then the Collie Power Station.
The Salvation Army opened an 'industrial school' (reformatory) for boys on 27 September 1901, outside the township of Collie, Western Australia. The first fourteen boys to live there were sent to Collie from the Rottnest Reformatory, from late 1901 until Rottnest closed in early 1902. The Collie Boys' Reformatory was one of three institutions set on 8,093 hectares of land held by the Salvation Army. The establishment of these institutions received wide publicity and glowing accounts were published in the newspapers in the early 1900s. By June 1902, there were 35 boys at the Home.
In 1902, Commissioner McKie, the leader of the Salvation Army in Australia, was interviewed in Kalgoorlie. The interview gives some insight into how the Salvation Army thought about their involvement at Collie, and how it was run and financed:
'It is well known that many unfortunate children (often more to be pitied than blamed) graduate from the streets, as neglected, then become criminal children, thence to swell the army of gaol-birds. To save children from such a calamity is a greater work than rescuing a ready-made criminal'. 'How is the work financed?' 'The Government grant a small capitation fee to pay the children's maintenance, the cost of land, buildings, inauguration expenses, and any deficiency in the annual balance-sheet must be met out of the social annual appeal'. 'But does the boys' labour not count for something?' 'Not as much as some people think. It is unskilled. Many of the boys must be taught to work; when they are competent and reliable they leave us, which we are quite willing they should do. The cost of oversight and technical training is more than the outside cost of the agricultural labourer. Many of them are too small, and others too delicate to do anything.'
In 1908, the three Children's Homes at Collie were vilified in the Sunday Times newspaper, which alleged children suffered overwork, unduly harsh punishment and poor food and living conditions. In the words of the newspaper, the Homes were 'coffinages'.
'General instructions' regarding punishment at the reformatory were included in the Salvation Army's 'Punishment Book'. Discipline was meant to be 'mild and firm' with corporal punishment a 'last resort', but could be 'inflicted in the presence of a witness' for 'absconding, offences against morality, for gross impertinence, or for wilful and persistent disobedience'. Corporal punishment was not meant to be used for 'trivial breaches of discipline' and boxing children's ears was 'strictly forbidden'. All cases of corporal punishment were to be recorded in the Punishment Book immediately after the child was punished. The date, 'detail of the offence, number of strokes administered, and the name of the witness' were to be recorded. The instructions also gave guidance for 'light punishments' for other offences. These included: taking away a child's privleges and confining the child to a room 'but not in darkness'. It was also allowed to reduce the quantity or quality of food allowed to a child, who could be given 'eight ounces of bread and water' instead of the normal meal, 'but no child must be deprived of two meals in succession'. The punishments were intended to comply with the Regulations of the State Children Act 1907.
In a 2003 memoir, former Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck recalled boyhood memories as a child of the manager of the Collie Boys' Home from 1913 to 1917: the No. 1 Home (the reformatory) and No. 2 Home (Collie Boys' Home) were 'almost wholly self-contained', with separate schools, stores, bakeries, boot-makers' shops, smithies and dairies. There were few visitors to the Homes, and few trips into the township of Collie. Meat, cereals, fruit and vegetables were produced to be eaten on site and the surplus was sold. Horses were an important part of the workforce, which included around 'a dozen Salvation Army officers, two school teachers, two in the office and seven or eight' others including 'boundary rider, carters, farm hands, etc'.
Boys would have been an essential part of the labour force at the Home, as Hasluck recalled there were 'about twenty milking cows and perhaps two thousand sheep…some cropping, mostly wheat and oats for chaff, and a good orchard and vegetable garden [and] the homes also did some carting of sleepers for the sleeper-cutters who were hewing on Crown Land'. There was also a run of chickens.
In 1913, there were around 38 boys at the Home.
In 1920, the institution closed and the boys were sent to the Salvation Army's reformatory, Seaforth, in the Perth suburb of Gosnells. The site was later used for the Coolangatta Farm and then the Collie Power Station.
1901 - 1920 Salvation Army Industrial School for Boys [Collie]
1920 - 1955 Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Salvation Army [Collie Homes]', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 14 October 1899, p. 57, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33170737; 'Industrial and Reformatory Schools [Inspector's Report for 1901]', The West Australian, 22 August 1902, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24841740; 'Progressive Measures at Rottnest', Western Mail, Charles Harper, J.W. Hackett, James Gibey, for the Western mail office, Perth, 8 March 1902, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37797966. When the Rottnest Reformatory closed, the boys were sent to the Salvation Army’s institution at Collie.; 'Salvation Army', Kalgoorlie Western Argus, 20 May 1902, p. 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32611097; 'Salvation Army Settlement at Collie', The West Australian, 14 October 1902, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24845866; ; 'Collie Home', The Daily News, The Daily News, 2 August 1920, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79402336; 'The Early Days [Rottnest Reformatory]', The West Australian, The West Australian, 5 June 1931, p. 20, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32524538. When the Rottnest Island Reformatory closed, the boys were sent to the Salvation Army’s institution at Collie.; 'Collie thanks God for the Salvos', The Collie Mail, 30 December 1999; General instructions [Document], Date: 1907 - 1920; Logne, IFA, 'Sketches in the District [Salvation Army Homes, Collie]', Bunbury Herald, Bunbury Herald, 22 June 1903, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87125438; Our Collie Boys' Homes [Document], Date: September 1913; Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory and The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory, 'Submission No. 46, The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territorial Headquarters (VIC), Attchments, Appendix A, The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory Childrens Homes, A list of openings, closings and function', in Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, Parliament of Australia website, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, July 2003, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist. Appendix A, page 4.; Settlement Work at the Collie [Document], Date: 1 June 1902; Western Australia. Charities Department, Report by the Superintendent of Public Charities and Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools, Government Printer, Perth, [W.A.], 1899-1907. 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 3 June 2014