New Norcia Mission is the collective name for St Mary's Mission (1848-1974) for boys and St Joseph's Native School and Orphanage (1861-1974) for girls. These institutions were run by Benedictine monks and nuns until they closed in 1974.
New Norcia Mission was the collective name for the St Mary's Mission (from 1848) and the St Joseph's Native School and Orphanage (from 1861) which were 'segregated' and run as separate institutions by the Benedictine monks and nuns at New Norcia, 120 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia. Schooling was focused on practical skills and young people worked at the Mission after school age.
The New Norcia Mission was scheduled under the 'Industrial Schools Act 1874', giving the Abbot 'complete control' over the children on the mission.
In 1974, with a 'new appreciation of the importance of Aboriginal family and culture' the Mission was closed.
In 2001, former residents of New Norcia organised a reunion. An account of that reunion is given by Massam, and indicates the complexity of relationships between people who grew up in out of home care and the people and institutions that accommodated them:
The reunion was about bonds between people, not structures. It brought together people who had publicly and vehemently criticised the Sisters and the institutions at New Norcia with others who had spent their savings to finance a return. Most often the women and men who gathered could speak in more than one voice, from more than one standpoint about their childhood. Women who had fought all their lives against the threat that their own children might end up in care brought grandchildren to town, proud and keen that the next generation might meet 'the ladies who looked after Nanna'. Again and again, the reunion was about relationships that had persisted through dreadful, and sometimes wonderful, experiences and held firm over many years. That There was Love in This Home: The Benedictine Missionary Sisters at New Norcia p.211
Sources used to compile this entry: Fox, Charlie, 'New Norcia mission', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 630-631; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'St Mary's Mission, New Norcia', 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; Massam, Katharine, That There was Love in This Home: The Benedictine Missionary Sisters at New Norcia, Evangelists of Empire?: Missionaries in Colonial History, Barry, Amanda; Cruickshank, Joanna; Brown-May, Andrew; and Grimshaw, Patricia, University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre, Melbourne, 2008, https://repository.divinity.edu.au/entities/publication/ebef8468-c13f-46c3-a152-6182550ef454. p.211.; National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, A Piece of the Story: A Research Project Undertaken by the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, https://cssa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Piece-of-the-Story.pdf. pp.141-142..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 4 March 2013, Last modified: 12 November 2018