Gwynne Lea, in Bentley, opened in 1970 as a government-run open residential unit that was part of the maximum security unit at Nyandi. It accommodated up to ten teenage girls (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal), aiming to help them adjust to living in small groups while enabling them to go under supervision into the community. Gwynne Lea had closed by 1997.
Gwynne Lea was established and run by the Child Welfare Department and subsequent child welfare authorities. It may also have been known as the Nyandi Hostel, as it was located in the grounds of the secure detention centre, Nyandi.
In government records, various spellings of Gwynne Lea appear, including: Gwynn Lea Cottage, Gwynne Lee Cottage, Gwyne Lea Cottage, Gwyne Lee, Gwynee Lea Cottage.
Girls whom authorities believed would benefit from living in small groups were placed in Gwynne Lea for up to three months at a time. The aim of the unit, which was more like a home than a detention facility, was described in government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.229-230) as a place where staff could work intensively with the teenagers to help them develop social and relationship skills. At first, girls were admitted into Gwynne Lea from within Nyandi but by 1978, young people could be admitted directly from the community.
In 1977, girls from Gwynne Lea were found weekend placements with host families. The girls' progress was monitored and multiple re-admissions to Gwynne Lea were possible.
By the 1980s, the number of girls living in Gwynne Lea at one time decreased from 8-10 girls, to four or five. In 1984, the Department for Community Welfare (Signposts p.230) reported that up to three girls at one time was ideal. The department reportedly sought to achieve two outcomes for the girls accommodated at Gwynne Lea: to prevent them running away, and to modify their behaviour so that they were able to return home, or return to a foster placement.
In 1993, Gwynne Lea, as part of Nyandi, was transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The Nyandi complex, which included Gwynne Lea, closed in 1997.
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'p.230', 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; 'Report of an announced inspection of Nyandi Prison : Report No.10, February 2002, p. 9', Reports and Publications, Office of the Inspector of Custodial Services, Perth, Western Australia, 2001, https://www.oics.wa.gov.au/reports-publications/; State Records Office of Western Australia, Wards - Director's Approval to Transfer from one Institution to Another and Amend Training, Reference Code AU WA S1099- cons2607 A0191 V4 (p.5, 31, 44, 46) - page numbers refer to PDF page number in digital file held by the Department of Communities (Child Protection and Family Support) in 2017.
Prepared by: Anna Trengove, Leanne Howard and Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 4 October 2018