The Salvation Army is a Christian faith-based organisation that has provided out of home 'care' in Western Australia from 1897, beginning with Homes of Rescue. From 1901, the 'Salvos' ran children's Homes, industrial schools and reformatories for boys and girls (3-16 years) in Collie, Kalgoorlie, Cottesloe, Gosnells, Hollywood and Mt Lawley. Most were large institutions and some (Gosnells and Highgate) also had sections for children and young people with intellectual disabilities. The Salvos also ran Maternity Homes in Perth North Fremantle, and were active in adoption. From 1991, through Crossroads West, the Salvos have continued to provide residential and support services to young people aged from 15 years. Parliamentary inquries have shown that experiences of 'care' in Salvation Army institutions varied. In December 2010 the Salvation Army offered an apology to people who had experienced abuse in its children's homes in Australia.
The Salvation Army is a Christian faith-based organisation that has played a significant role in out of home care in Western Australia since 1897, with Homes of Rescue at East Perth and Highgate (1898) and Kalgoorlie-Boulder (1903). From 1901, the 'Salvos' ran Children's Homes and Industrial Schools for boys and girls aged from around 3-16 years in Kalgoorlie (Lamington and Boulder); Cottesloe; on the Seaforth estate in Gosnells (Kelmscott); on a large site at Hollywood (Nedlands, West Subiaco); and at a house in Mt Lawley.
They also ran Maternity Homes in Perth and North Fremantle (Hillcrest, Hopetoun, Open Door), and were active in the adoption of children from these Homes.
Children and young people with intellectual disabilities were also accommodated by the Salvation Army (in a special section at Gosnells, and at Highgate).
By the 1990s, the Salvation Army was no longer involved in running large institutions but continued to have a group home accommodation program through Crossroads west, for young people aged from 15 years.
On a visit to WA in 1905 the founder, General Booth, spoke about the need to reform 'social miseries' through action as well as prayer, working among the poor. The fundamental beliefs that he outlined in his speeches were reported at the time: the Salvation Army believed in forgiveness of sin, that sinners could be 'saved', that characters could be transformed, and that people could be strengthened to 'fit them to overcome the difficulties of life'. Transforming people from 'inebriety' (alcoholism) to a life of sobriety was a focus of their work, as was conversion.
Young women were first accommodated in a Home of Rescue in East Perth in 1897 and by 1901 the Salvation Army began its involvement in large-scale out of home care for younger children when the Salvation Army acquired property at Collie which were soon classified as 'industrial schools' and achieved a government subsidy. From relatively small beginnings, the Salvation Army quickly became one of the most significant recipients of children who were committed to industrial schools and reformatories.
The Salvation Army put a lot of energy and resources into publicising its work, encouraging Salvationists to continue their efforts, publicising 'successes' to show that those efforts did save souls, and to stimulate fundraising. Their national newspaper, the War Cry was a key vehicle for this publicity, but the Salvos also gained mainstream media attention. The Salvation Army's 'social work' programs were highlighted in WA newspapers - educating people about the type of work they were involved in, and appealing for public support and donations. Most of this publicity is uncritical, but it does serve to give some insight into elements of life within Salvation Army institutions.
Working with children had a special place in Salvation Army theology and practice. In 1910, the War Cry published an article about the 'conversion of children':
As Salvationists we heartily believe in child conversion, and seek by all possible means to bring this about in the case of every child we have to do with. We have many encouragements for this. The Bible is with us. How many incidents are recorded in its biographies showing the outcome of all early belief, to say nothing of its many inculcations to parents in the direction of training. The Master Himself Jesus Christ when on earth showed the fullest sympathy with the child heart. The importance of schooling the young cannot be overestimated. Prevention is better than cure. It has been said, 'Save an adult and you save a unit. Save a child and you save a whole multiplication table!' Saving a youth from Sin not only means salvation for the present but setting young lives to work for God in saving others, making them into fighters for God. Autograph Message No. IV, Lt. Col. Horskins, War Cry 14 May 1910
Newspaper articles and personal recollections of former residents demonstrate that these beliefs were put into action in Salvation Army institutions. Children regularly attended church services and were actively engaged in the life of the Salvation Army. In 1921, the War Cry reported that five 'converted' girls from the Homes at Collie and Gosnells had become Salvation Army officers since 1916, and were either working in Salvation Army institutions in WA or in preparation for training as commissioned Officers.
Earlier, in June 1903, an item in The War Cry described the conversion of boys at the Collie Boys' Home during a visit and speech from Mrs Commissioner McKie, the leader of women's social work: 'The prayer-meeting was not long started before one boy made his way to the table, closely followed by another, and still another, till five were kneeling there. Many others, especially of the big boys, were pricked to the heart, and should have yielded'. At the conclusion of the article, the author reports on additional conversions: 'two of the biggest boys, and three others who ought to have come out in [Mrs McKie's] Friday night's meeting, had yielded on Sunday night.'
In 1921, The War Cry published an article, 'Remaking Young Australians' which outlined their system of 'classification' of children who came into their Homes. In the judgmental language of the times, the article reported that the 'very worst of the boys and girls' were committed to Reformatory Homes, except for very young children who, 'in spite of any misdeeds they may have committed' were sent to a Probationary Home. In Western Australia, the Reformatory Homes run by the Salvation Army were also known as Industrial Schools. They were the: Salvation Army Boys' Industrial School, Collie and Salvation Army Girls' Industrial School, Collie, which were both replaced by the Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory and Seaforth Salvation Army Girls' Home. The Probationary Homes were homes that took in children who were private admissions (sent to the Home by family), State Children, or children who had been sent by the Children's Court for their own protection. The Salvation Army Boys' Home, Nedlands (West Subiaco) and Salvation Army Girls' Home, Cottesloe fitted the 'Probationary Home' model.
Parliamentary inquiries have shown that experiences of 'care' in Salvation Army institutions varied. In December 2010 the Salvation Army offered an apology to people who had experienced abuse it its children's homes in Australia.
The Salvation Army Professional Standards invites people with enquiries or concerns about abuse or unethical behaviour relating to the Salvation Army in Western Australia to get in touch.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Mrs McKie at the Collie', The War Cry, 27 June 1903; 'General Booth's Lecture', Kalgoorlie Miner, 30 June 1905, p. 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89216418; 'Remaking Young Australians', The War Cry, 26 March 1921; Autograph Message No. IV [Document], Date: 14 May 1910; Chate, A.H; Graham, Bruce; Oakley, Glenda, Date it!: a Western Australian chronology to 1929, Friends of the Battye Library (Inc.), Northbridge, Western Australia, 1991; Ellement, Connie and Davidson, Ron, The divided kingdom, Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Frremantle, Western Australia, 1987. pp.111-114.; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 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; 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.; 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..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 6 November 2014