The House of Mercy was established in Perth in 1891 as a 'non-denominational charity for single mothers'. It was run by a private management committee. Women were expected to work in the commercial laundry at the Home, which was funded by these activities and charitable donations. The name was changed to the Alexandra Home for Women in 1916.
The House of Mercy was established for the 'shelter and reformation of women and girls who have fallen from virtue', as described by The Daily News on 13 June 1891 (p.3).
It opened in rented premises in Lake Street, Perth in November 1891.
Women were 'trained' in domestic work and housekeeping, and worked in the commercial laundry to part-fund the operations of the Home. Charitable subscriptions were sought by the House of Mercy Assocation, the private management committee that ran the Home.
An excerpt from the 1893 report by the management committee was published in The West Australian (11 September 1894, p.7). The report gave an insight into what the committee hoped to achieve: to offer a helping hand and give 'girls' the opportunity to 'return to the paths of virtue'. The report also said that 16 young women had been admitted since the House of Mercy had opened. Of these, five were 'doing well in domestic service', two had 'gone home to their friends', one had married, four remained at the House of Mercy, three had left because 'they would not subscribe to the rules and wished to leave' and one young woman absconded. In the published excerpt, there was no mention of the fate of the babies born to these mothers. The report also acknowledged that the House of Mercy had been subject to 'apprehension and prejudice' from the community and the management committee hoped that the public would start to see that it was engaged in a respectable venture.
In 1894, the Home moved to 100 Aberdeen Street, West Perth and then in 1901 to Lincoln Street, Highgate.
In 1899, there were six women and three children resident in the Home.
The House of Mercy was the forerunner of the Alexandra Home (1916-1956).
1891 - 1916 House of Mercy
1916 - 1950 Alexandra Home for Women
1950 - 1956 The Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies (Inc) and Mothercraft Training School
1956 - 1989 Ngal-a Mothercraft Home and Training Centre Inc
Sources used to compile this entry: 'The Proposed House of Mercy', The Daily News, 13 June 1891, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76464665; 'The House of Mercy', The West Australian, 11 September 1894, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3066470; 'House of Mercy', The West Australian, 23 September 1899, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article3235586; Grant, Beryl, 'Ngala', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 635-636; 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; History, 2009, http://www.ngala.com.au/About-Ngala/History.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 24 May 2011, Last modified: 20 June 2014