Kurrawang Mission, near Kalgoorlie, was established as a 'native reserve' in 1952 by the Gospel Brethren (later known as Christian Brethren). Until 1963, the head of the government departments responsible for Aboriginal welfare was the guardian of children at the Home. By 1968, there were 66 children, some who were wards of the State. Its role changed over time to become a hostel for school-age children and those travelling to Kalgoorlie for medical treatment. In the 1980s, it was known locally as the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Centre and by 1984 was a self-managed Aboriginal community with a parent-directed school on the site.
Kurrawang Native Mission was established in November 1952 as a 'native reserve' which had three purposes: to care for Aboriginal people who had been in hospital and were awaiting transport back to home; to provide rations to local Aboriginal people from the Kalgoorlie area; to provide camping facilities for Aboriginal people passing through on their way to employment or in Kalgoorlie for ceremonial purposes.
The Department of Native Affairs registered Kurrawang as a 'native mission' to recognise the involvement and commitment of the Gospel Assemblies. Mr W. Sharpe, of the Gospel Hall, Kalgoorlie, was the first superintendent. In 1953, the department reported that Mr Sharpe had to be reminded not to encourage Aboriginal people to settle permanently at Kurrawang. In the early days, the governance of Kurrawang was uncertain as the Gospel Assemblies reformed. This uncertainty was reportedly a key factor in the Department of Native Affairs deciding not to build any facilities at Kurrawang when it was first established.
By 1955, the Department of Native Welfare (DNW) had provided funds for Kurrawang, which was then being run by the 'Gospel Brotherhood', with Mr Sharpe still the superintendent. There were 17 children at Kurrawang who slept in an 'unlined, corrugated iron dormitory' or on the verandah of the superintendant's house, according to the DNW's Annual Report in that year. Until 1963, all the children were under the guardianship of the Commissioner of Native Welfare and it seems that the Department's concerns about permanent settlement had been overcome.
By 1968, there were more than 110 people at Kurrawang, including 66 children some who were wards of the State. Seven children went to the kindergarten at Kurrawang and the others went to schools in Kalgoorlie. There were dormitories for boys and girls. One of the dormitories was called 'Golden Ridge'.
In 1972, the Department for Community Welfare (DCW) took over the child welfare responsibilities from the DNW. Children who were wards of the State were admitted to Kurrawang and the DCW funded programs and facilities. A cottage home was funded in 1974. This was probably Pukulari, which was located in Boulder, Kalgoorlie.
A photograph from 1973 or 1974 shows that Kurrawang was known as the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Centre but it continued to be known as 'Kurrawang Mission' in government reports. The dormitories at Kurrawang were replaced with cottages during the 1970s.
By 1977, Kurrawang was operating two cottage homes in Kalgoorlie (Boulder).
In 1982 the DCW reported that children were placed with foster parents at the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Centre.
In 1984, the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Community Inc became responsible for the management of Kurrawang and its life as a mission officially ended. A Christian Aboriginal parent-directed School was established on the site.
In March 1995, a freehold title to the Kurrawang land was issued to the Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Community Inc.
Sources used to compile this entry: Department of Planning and Infrastructure and Kurrawang Aboriginal Christian Community, Kurrawang Community Layout Plan No.2, Western Australian Planning Commission, January 2006, http://www.planning.wa.gov.au/dop_pub_pdf/Kurrawang_LP2_Amendment_2_Report.pdf. p.1.; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.277-279, Table 21: Young People at Kurrawang, 1965-1970', 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; Kurrawang Mission, ca. 1956 [Image], Date: c. 1956 Creator: Portman, John Alexander; 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.; '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 Affairs 1953 pp.9-10 ; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1955 p.26; Annual Report of the Commissioner of Native Welfare 1959 p.8..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 7 October 2014