The Pallottine Mission Centre was opened in May 1955 by The Pallottines in Riverton, later known as Rossmoyne. The Centre opened as a hostel for Aboriginal boys who were attending secondary schools, technical schools or working as apprentices in the metropolitan area. A Girls' Hostel was opened in 1961 for girls to attend secondary schools in Perth. The Centre continued to expand until the 1980s with 6 hostels being purpose-built. The Pallottine Centre closed in 1991.
The Pallottine Mission Centre was established in 1955 on a 10-acre lot in Riverton with the first residents, boys from the Pallottine Mission in Tardun, in residence by 1956. The Boys' Hostel was named St Vincent Pallotti Hostel.
In 1959, the Centre expanded to 25 acres of land and from 1960 the land was considered part of the newly-named suburb of Rossmoyne. From 1961, both girls and boys of high school age were accommodated at the Pallottine Centre in separate hostels (the Girls' Hostel was called Villa Maria).
In May 1961, an officer from the Department of Native Welfare expressed some concern about Aboriginal children being sent from remote communities to Perth for schooling:
At this stage, I would like to place on record the fact that all these children (i.e. those at Riverton) could have been adequately educated at the Derby Technical High School which was in fact established at great expense to provide educational opportunities for just such children.
Once this precedent has been established for these children there will be no end to the demands of the Church for other children to be sent to Perth rather than to the local High School.
Respectfully, too, I would like to point out that this exodus of children to Perth, probably ultimately at the Department's expense is contrary to policy laid down at the recent Commissioner's conference. (Letter Tilbrook to Commissioner of Native Welfare, 25.5.61, quoted in Signposts 2004, p.404)
In 1967 a new accommodation block was opened, the Senior Girls' Building, for girls either in training or employment. Further extensions were made in 1971, with the building known as Edith Little Lodge. In 1974 the Junior Boys' Lodge was opening and in 1986 another new building for boys, Valentine Lodge, was opened.
In the 1970s there were 70 students living at the centre, along with a dozen adults, including live-in staff and missionaries on leave. Most of the students went to Catholic colleges in Perth.
The Pallottine Centre closed in 1991 and the land was sold. The money recouped from the land sale was placed in the Pallottine Aboriginal Scholarship Trust which provides scholarships to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who wish to undertake postgraduate training.
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.402-407, Table 34: Young People at the Pallottine Centre, Rossmoyne, Certain Years between 1961 and 1980', 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; '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.; Western Australia. Department of Native Welfare, Annual Report: Department of Native Welfare, Dept. Of Native Welfare,, Perth [W.A.], 1955-1972; Correspondence with Pallottine Archivist, December 2018, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre. Barich, Anthony, 'Geoffrey Rush's priest honoured for role with Aboriginals', 3 March 2010, The Record.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 14 January 2019