Wongutha Mission Training Farm, near Esperance, was established in 1954 by RW (Rod) Schenk. It was for Aboriginal boys aged over 14 and, by the 1960s, girls. There was training in farming and Christian leadership. Wongutha was run by a local board of management. In 1990, the Christian Aboriginal Parent-Directed School Inc (CAPS) from Coolgardie took over the program and in 1993 all the land and assets at Wongutha were deeded to CAPS.
On 24 December 1954, a permit to establish the Wongutha Farm Training Mission School at Esperance was granted to RW (Rod) Schenk, who was the son of RM Schenk, the founder of Mount Margaret Mission. In his 1959 Annual Report (p.9), the Commissioner of Native Welfare noted that the 'junior' Mr Schenk was a graduate of the Victorian Agricultural College.
Wongutha was governed by a local Board which included farmers, business people, church and Aboriginal leaders, mostly from the Esperance area. Boys over 14 years of age were admitted.
In 1958, it was reported in Dawn magazine that ten 'native boys' were 'doing practical work with sheep, poultry, pigs and cattle, as well as English and arithmetic to bring them up to standard'and that three boys were going to High School to study for their intermediate certificates.
Until 1963, all the young people at Wongutha were under the guardianship of the heads of the department responsible for Aboriginal welfare, and in the late 1960s, the Annual Reports of the Child Welfare Department show that Wongutha admitted some boys and girls who were classified as 'native wards'.
The curriculum at Wongutha included training students in Christian principles and leadership.
In 1972, the Department for Community Welfare took over the child wefare responsibilities of the Department of Native Welfare and Wongutha was one of the institutions where children may have been placed.
In 1990, the Wongutha Board invited the Christian Aboriginal Parent-Directed School Inc (CAPS) which had formed in Coolgardie in 1981, to become involved in the operation of Wongutha. In 1993, all the land and assets at Wongutha were deeded to CAPS and the Board was disbanded.
In 2013, Wongutha continued as Wongutha CAPS, a secondary school and hostel.
Sources used to compile this entry: '‘Dawn’ December 1958 p.15', Dawn and New Dawn 1952-1975: A Magazine for the Aboriginal People of New South Wales, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies [website], with Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), 2012, http://aiatsis.gov.au/collections/collections-online/digitised-collections/dawn-and-new-dawn; History [Wongutha CAPS], Wongutha CAPS, https://www.wonguthacaps.wa.edu.au/home/our-history; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.581-583', Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, https://signposts.communities.wa.gov.au//pdf/pdf.aspx; 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 Welfare 1959 p.9..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 20 June 2014