The Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Home, Gosnells (Kelmscott) was established in 1920. Boys from the Salvation Army Homes at Collie were transferred to Seaforth, and lived in different 'sections', including a separate facility for boys and young men with intellectual disabilities (1922-1950). Seaforth Boys' Home closed in 1955 and remaining boys were transferred to the Salvation Army Boys' Home, Nedlands. Those adults who had been in the 'backward' section remained on the Seaforth property which continued to be used by the Salvation Army as a residential care centre for adults.
The Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Home was established around 1921, on a parcel of land held by the Salvation Army and shared with the Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory and Seaforth Salvation Army Girls' Home. The Boys' Home had two sections: a general section for children who were described in 1925 as 'orphans or semi-orphans' and a 'backward' section for boys with intellectual disabilities. The general section was also called the 'probationary' section. All Children's Home sections at Seaforth had ceased operation by 30 August 1955.
Seaforth continued to be used by the Salvation Army as a residential facility for adults. Known as the Harry Hunter Rehabilitation Centre in 2014, the site remained active.
A brief overview of the 'general' and 'backward' sections follows:
In 1925, the 'general' section at Seaforth accommodated 50 boys aged from 5 to 14 years. A large brick building in the centre of the property held the boys' dormitories. The Seaforth Boys' Band, which had been established in 1923, drew its members from this section of the Home. The band not only played at functions in the Home, but was also gave public performances and in 1926 went on a tour of the south-west. The boys' band seems to have been an important part of the Salvation Army's fundraising campaigns.
In 1942, boys from the Salvation Army Boys' Home, Nedlands were evacuated to Seaforth so the army could make use of the Nedlands site. They returned after the army no longer needed Nedlands.
In 1953, the Premier of Western Australia commissioned RH Hicks, Director of Child Welfare and Social Services in New South Wales, to review Western Australian child welfare facilities, including the Seaforth Boys' Home. Hicks' report was never released by the government but certain elements were published in the press, including information that condemned the conditions at Seaforth.
On 30 August 1955, the Seaforth Boys' Home, general section, closed. All remaining boys were transferred to the Salvation Army Boys' Home, Nedlands.
The Salvation Army opened a section for boys with intellectual disabilities at Seaforth in 1922. At the time this section opened, there were a range of terms used to describe children with disabilities - and boys with physical disabilities may also have been sent to this Home. Previously, these children would have been sent to the Claremont Hospital for the Insane. By 1925 there were 50 boys in this section of the Home, and they went to a school run by the Education Department on the Seaforth site. The dormitories, playgrounds, gardens and dining-room of the 'backward' section were separate from the other sections of Seaforth, and, apart from the Manager, had its own staff. Young men as old as 25 years were reportedly resident in the Home in 1929. Boys and young men were trained and worked in raffia and basket-making, embroidery, rug-making, toy-making and cabinetry. Not all boys stayed in the 'backward' section. Those who were deemed suitable for work in the general community were placed with employers.
The 'backward' section closed on 29 July 1950. Some residents, who were no longer children, remained on the Seaforth property which, after August 1955, continued to be used by the Salvation Army as a residential care centre for adults.
The Seaforth Home was mentioned in the Lost Innocents Report (2001) as an institution involved in the migration of children to Australia.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'State Children [Annual Report, November 1922]', The Daily News, 14 November 1922, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article83155880; ; 'Happy lads at Seaforth WA', The War Cry, 9 October 1926; 'The Army and Mental Deficients', The War Cry, 1 January 1927; 'Report Criticises Seaforth Boys' Home', The West Australian, 7 August 1954, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52959735; 'State's Treatment Of Juvenile Offenders Is Condemned', The West Australian, 13 July 1954, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52954491; 'Submission No. 438 Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care: Submissions', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care - Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 17 August 2004, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist; Backward boys come to the front [Document], Date: 19 December 1925; Coldrey, Barry M., The Scheme: the Christian Brothers and Childcare in Western Australia, Argyle-Pacific Pub., O'Connor, W.A., 1993. p.54.; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.491-493, Table 47: Young People at the Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Home (General Section), Certain Years between 1920 and 1954, Table 48: Young People at the Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Home ('Backward' Section), 1922 - 1951', 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; Kirkham, Lt-Col John C, Southern Soup-Soap-Salvation, a compendium of Salvation Army Social Services in the Australian Southern Territory, The Salvation Army Australia Southern Territory Territorial Archives and Museum, 2003. pp.124-125.; Seaforth History [Document], Date: 1920s - 1950s; Mens Home Social Work Closed (1968 - 1990s) file, document 'Seaforth Senior Citizens Centre'. Seaforth Boys Home Closed Social Work file, document 'Seaforth'.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 27 April 2018