A hostel in WA generally fell into one of two categories: educational hostels (in metropolitan or country areas, which provided accommodation nearby to school and possibly some educational support); and hostels for those leaving children's homes or reformatories, to prepare them for life after 'care'.
This second group of hostels generally catered for older children and young people, from around the age of 15, to assist former residents of orphanages and children's homes with the transition to paid employment and independent living. This latter group were known as treatment and training hostels in the 1970s, community support hostels in the 1980s, and McCall or country support hostels in the 1990s.
Western Australia also had hostels for young Aboriginal students and workers. These were called Aboriginal Education and Employment Hostels and they have a separate entry in the Find & Connect web resource.
Hostels in WA were generally either educational hostels or hostels to assist young people who had been in care make the transition to independent living.
In 2012, some aspects of the history of country educational hostels were examined by the Special Inquiry into St Andrew's Hostel, Katanning. The Inquiry found:
From the early 1900s, the churches (particularly the Anglican Church) and the Country Women's Association (CWA) took up the responsibility of establishing and managing individual hostels so that country students could attend schools within their regional areas. The towns at which these hostels were originally established included Albany, Geraldton, Merredin and Northam. In most instances it was a local group in each town which seized the opportunity to acquire a suitable underutilised building near their high school, and the Anglican Church and CWA featured prominently in this activity. The management of each hostel was generally undertaken by a volunteer committee comprising Church or CWA representatives, local people involved in community affairs, and school principals.
The opening up of new farming land in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in new demands for hostel accommodation as well as an increasing need for government funding of hostel infrastructure. The need for a better system of funding improvements and expansion of hostel facilities was recognised with the enactment of the Country High School Hostels Authority Act 1960 (the "CHSHA Act") which created the Country High School Hostels Authority (the Authority). The Authority had the statutory duty of providing hostel accommodation for isolated students enrolled in secondary schools throughout Western Australia.
Over the decade which followed there was an uneasy relationship between the Authority and the various bodies which had been operating the existing hostels. However in return for the funding of much needed facilities at these hostels the Authority gradually gained control until it was responsible for the operation of all country hostels associated with state government high schools.
By the end of the 1970s the management of each of these hostels was subject to a 'letter of arrangement' with the Authority. This letter specified the responsibilities of each local board in the day-to-day management of its hostel but also recognised that the Authority had ultimate control. In this regard the CHSHA Act conferred on the Authority the power to appoint a local committee (vis board) in respect of any hostel and to delegate to that committee all or any of its powers. In the event of any such delegation of powers the local board was able to exercise those powers as if they had been directly conferred by the Act. (p.23)
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'Models of Out of Home Placement', 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; Public Sector Commission, Western Australia, 'Inquiry - St Andrew's Hostel - Public Hearing Transcript – 20 June 2012 p.3765', Transcripts [St Andrew's Hostel Inquiry], Government of Western Australia, 19 September 2012, https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/st-andrews-hostel-inquiry; Public Sector Commission, St Andrew's Hostel Inquiry, Government of Western Australia, 19 September 2012, https://www.wa.gov.au/government/document-collections/st-andrews-hostel-inquiry. p.23..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 25 October 2011, Last modified: 27 February 2015