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Western Australia - Organisation

St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage (1901 - 1971)

  • St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage

    St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage, 3 December 1953, courtesy of State Library of Western Australia.
    Details

From
1901
To
1971
Categories
Catholic, Children's Home, Home, Orphanage and Receiving Agency
Alternative Names
  • Orphanage Industrial School for Roman Catholic Girls (also known as, 1902 - 1904)
  • St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Girls' Orphanage Industrial School, Subiaco (also known as)

St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage was established in Subiaco in 1901. It was run by the Sisters of Mercy, for girls aged up to 16 years who were placed there by government authorities or who were private admissions. From 1947, child migrants from Britain and Malta were sent to St Joseph's. It closed in 1971 and became the Catherine McAuley Centre.

Details

The St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage was run by the Sisters of Mercy from 21 November 1901 on the site of the old boys' orphanage in Subiaco. The Sisters and children from the Roman Catholic Girls' Orphanage in Victoria Square moved to Subiaco a few months after the boys moved out to Clontarf. Although St Joseph's was called an orphanage, both children who were wards and those who were 'privately placed' lived there.

A letter of appreciation of the The Daily News Orphans' Christmas Cheer Fund in 1915 gives an insight into life at St Joseph's. The letter shows that donations enabled the children to occasionally have extras that were not part of their daily experience:

The Sisters and children of the orphanage are extremely grateful for the donation [of £24]. Each child was provided with a portion of the money to spend as she wished, and nothing could exceed the pleasure thereby given, particularly as this year nothing was expected, owing to the heavy demands on our kind friends. A picnic was provided with the remainder which, as usual, delighted the children. Letter, 12 January 1916 published in The Daily News 2 December 1916, p.10

Government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.454-455) show that there were 129 girls resident in 1920, with 114 girls in 1921. In subsequent years before World War II, the number of girls at St Joseph's ranged from 91 (in 1922) to 37 (in 1943). Reports from the 1920s and 1940s also report on the number of girls who were 'at service'. That is, working-age girls who were placed with employers (under a formal agreement) or who worked within the institution. Occasionally, reports show 'abscondings' or the number of children who ran away.

From 1947, child migrants from Britain and Malta were sent to St Joseph's. The government reports (Signposts pp.457-458) probably underestimate the number of girls in the Home during the period 1947 to 1956. From 1957, 'private admissions' (girls who were placed at St Joseph's by families or others) exceeded the number of girls placed by child welfare authorities. It is possible that girls admittedly privately were not counted in government reports in previous years.

In evidence to the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care, later known as the 'Forgotten Australians' inquiry, a woman described (Forgotten Australians 2004, p.88), deprivations at St Joseph's that left a deep impression on her: 'We were never allowed to keep the presents as the nuns used to take them off us when we got back to the orphanage and would sell them at their fetes.'

Published, official, reports generally present a brighter picture.

In 1971, St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage closed and became the Catherine McAuley Centre.

Events

1901 - 1971
Location - St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage was located on a site that had originally been used for the Benedictine monastery on Barrett Street, Subiaco. Location: Subiaco

Timeline

 1868 - 1901 St Joseph's Catholic Orphanage for Girls
       1901 - 1971 St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage
             1971 - 1991 Catherine McAuley Centre
                   1997 - 2002 Mercy Community Services (Inc)
                         2002 - MercyCare

Related Legislation

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Pushong, Lyn, Heritage Trail: A journey through the history of MercyCare, MercyCare, 2008. p.8. Details

Book Sections

  • 'Colonial Secretary's Department', in JS Battye (ed.), The Cyclopedia of Western Australia (1912), vol. 1, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, 1985, pp. 502-507. Details

Reports

  • 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. 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907. Details

Online Resources

Photos

Early photo
Title
Early photo
Type
Image
Date
1859
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Buildings 1.08 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Orphanage dining room
Title
Orphanage dining room
Type
Image
Date
1901? - 1950s
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Buildings 1.13 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Girls Orphanage Industrial School, 1906
Title
St Joseph's Roman Catholic Girls Orphanage Industrial School, 1906
Type
Image
Date
1907
Source
Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Superintendent of Public Charities and Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools, Report 1906, after p.16

Details

Main building St Joseph's Roman Catholic Girls Orphanage Industrial School, 1906
Title
Main building St Joseph's Roman Catholic Girls Orphanage Industrial School, 1906
Type
Image
Date
1907
Source
Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Superintendent of Public Charities and Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools, Report 1906, after p.16

Details

Ballet lesson
Title
Ballet lesson
Type
Image
Date
1920? - 1960?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry Subiaco/Wembley 2.2 Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Girls' dormitory
Title
Girls' dormitory
Type
Image
Date
1920s - 1960s
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Building 1.16 Subiaco/Wembley Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Dancing classes 5
Title
Dancing classes 5
Type
Image
Date
1920? - 1960?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry Subiaco/Wembley 2.3 Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Gardening St Joseph's 5
Title
Gardening St Joseph's 5
Type
Image
Date
1920? - 1960?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry. Subiaco/Wembley. 1.8 Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 -2013

Details

Back of St Joseph's main building
Title
Back of St Joseph's main building
Type
Image
Date
1920? - 1960?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Buildings: 1.05 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Dormitory 1
Title
Dormitory 1
Type
Image
Date
1920s - 1960s
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Building 1.16 Subiaco/Wembley Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

Sing song
Title
Sing song
Type
Image
Date
1920? - 1960?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry. 1.4 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2011

Details

St Joseph's Front
Title
St Joseph's Front
Type
Image
Date
1930? - 1950s
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Buildings 1.06 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1845 - 2013

Details

Guard of Honour Kings Park
Title
Guard of Honour Kings Park
Type
Image
Date
1934? - 1945?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry 1.1/1.3 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy. Perth Congregation 1846 - 2011

Details

St Joseph's Guard of Honour Kings Park
Title
St Joseph's Guard of Honour Kings Park
Type
Image
Date
1934? - 1945?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry 1.1/1.3 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy. Perth Congregation 1846 - 2011

Details

Back area - colour
Title
Back area - colour
Type
Image
Date
1940? - 1971
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Buildings 1.10 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth congregation 1846 - 2013

Details

CEMWA Response to Moss Questionnaire
Title
CEMWA Response to Moss Questionnaire
Type
Document
Date
1951
Source
National Archives of Australia

Details

John Moss C.B.E. U.K. Child Welfare Expert. Visit to Australia. Part II
Title
John Moss C.B.E. U.K. Child Welfare Expert. Visit to Australia. Part II
Type
Document
Date
1951 - 1952
Source
National Archives of Australia
Note
There is information about the St Joseph’s Girls’ Orphanage in the John Moss Visit to Australia file Part II, please see pp.28-29, 127, 132, 140

Details

Enquiry by Mr. John Moss. Points on which information is needed as to provision for the welfare of children emigrating from the United Kingdom to Australia
Title
Enquiry by Mr. John Moss. Points on which information is needed as to provision for the welfare of children emigrating from the United Kingdom to Australia
Type
Document
Date
10 May 1951
Source
National Archives of Australia

Details

Classroom
Title
Classroom
Type
Image
Date
1953?
Source
Mercy Heritage Centre, Ministry. 1.2 Subiaco/Wembley. Sisters of Mercy Perth Congregation 1846 - 2011

Details

St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage
Title
St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage
Type
Image
Date
3 December 1953
Source
State Library of Western Australia

Details

Table and chairs, St Joseph's Orphanage
Title
Table and chairs, St Joseph's Orphanage
Type
Image
Date
28 September 1954
Source
State Library of Western Australia

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'Table 41: Young People at St Joseph's Girls' Orphanage, Certain Years between 1935 and 1994', 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; 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.cssa.org.au/storage/A%20Piece%20of%20the%20Story.pdf. p. 140.; 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. 1899, 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907..

Prepared by: Debra Rosser