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Western Australia - Glossary Term

Industrial School

Type of 'care'

The Industrial Schools Act 1874 set up the basis for institutional care of children in Western Australia.

The Act enabled the Government to give a certificate of approval to the Director of Schools for the care and education of orphaned, needy or delinquent children. These institutions were meant to train the inmates "to habits of industry imparting them an education of a plain and useful character; and endeavouring to bring them under the influences of religious principles…" (Superintendent of Poor Houses and Charitable Institutions, Annual Report 1889).

The lines between the treatment of 'orphaned, needy' and 'delinquent' children were often blurred in these establishments. The term industrial school persisted to the 1950s.


Book Sections

  • 'Colonial Secretary's Department', in JS Battye (ed.), The Cyclopedia of Western Australia (1912), vol. 1, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, 1985, pp. 502-507. Details


  • Annual report of the State Children Department, State Children's Department, [Perth, W.A.], 1908-1927. 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1927. Details
  • 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. Details
  • Western Australia. Child Welfare Department, Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department, Child Welfare Department, Perth [W.A.], 1928-1972. Details

Online Resources

Sources used to compile this entry: 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,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser