The Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory was run by the Salvation Army on a large site in Gosnells from 1920 until it closed in 1955. The reformatory was co-located with the Seaforth Boys' Home (1920-1955), the Seaforth Salvation Army Girls' Home (1920-1942) and the Seaforth Todders' Home (1945-1949). Since 1955, the Seaforth site has been used by the Salvation Army for adult residential facilities.
The Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory was run by the Salvation Army on a large site in Gosnells from 1920 until it closed in 1955.
The Reformatory section was set towards the rear of the Seaforth site, on the northern side of the Canning River, and accommodated boys aged 14 to 18 years. The reformatory was described in the Salvation Army newspaper, War Cry on 26 November 1921: the existing homestead on the estate housed three dormitories (with room for ten, three and nine boys each), a vegetable garden in the 'swamp land' north of a five acre citrus orchard; and a schoolhouse that was in process of being erected, with boys having lessons in the dining-hall behind the administration block.
In 1925, an article in the War Cry, reported that there were two dormitories, 'a little reading-room where the lads spend their evenings', a patch of land for football and a cricket pitch. The boys from the reformatory were 'the farmers' of Seaforth, being trained and working on agricultural pursuits. When the boys had learned some farming skills and 'the greater art of mastering themselves', they were placed on farms and stations. The wages these boys earned were banked by the Seaforth Manager and held in trust. The article reported that there was £3,000 in the account in December 1925.
In 1943, the Royal Commission appointed to Inquire into the Care and Reform of Youthful Delinquents inspected Seaforth and observed that there was a need for a trades school because 'all boys are not adapted' to just learning about farming. A Trades School was built at Seaforth in 1945, with boys making around 15,000 bricks in four months. The Trades School was dedicated by Commissioner WR Dalziel, Territorial Commander, on 1 September 1945.
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 Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory. Hicks' report was never released by the government but certain elements were published in the press, including information that condemned the conditions at Seaforth.
The Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory closed on 10 August 1955.
1901 - 1920 Salvation Army Industrial School for Boys [Collie]
1920 - 1955 Seaforth Salvation Army Boys' Reformatory
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Collie Home', The Daily News, The Daily News, 2 August 1920, p. 7, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79402336; ; 'Report of the Royal Commission appointed to Inquire into The Care and Reform of Youthful Delinquents', in Royal Commissions Held in Western Australia, Parliament of Western Australia, 10 August 1943, http://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/intranet/LibPages.nsf/589198976847966848256e5a0008666d/576f693668722e924825774300287922?OpenDocument. p.5.; ; 'Report Criticises Seaforth Boys' Home', The West Australian, 7 August 1954, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52959735; Backward boys come to the front [Document], Date: 19 December 1925; Hetherington, Penelope, 'Reformatories', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 750-751; Seaforth History [Document], Date: 1920s - 1950s.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 9 February 2013, Last modified: 7 October 2014