Wesleyan Methodists arrived in Western Australia in 1829 and were involved in out of home care from the early days of colonial settlement. In 1900 an independent Methodist Conference was established in Western Australia. In 1915 the 'Central Methodist Mission' was established to manage metropolitan charity work on behalf of the Methodist Conference. In 1977, the Methodist Church combined with the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches to form the Uniting Church.
Francis Armstrong, the interpreter at the Native Institution from 1834 was a Methodist. He was the earliest 'Wesleyan' known to be formally associated with out of home care in Western Australia. Another notable person was the Reverend John Smithies who arrived with his wife, Hannah, and family in 1840 and established the Perth Native School in that year. The Wanneroo Native School followed in 1844 and Gerald's Mission (York) from 1851-1854. An Order of the Sisters of the People started in the 1890s and it is not uncommon to see Sisters named as carers in the Methodist children's homes during the first few decades of the twentieth century. The Methodist Church established the Methodist Girls' Home in 1918, the Methodist Children's Home (later, Mofflyn) in 1922, and Werribee Farm School in 1929. As part of the broader Australian church, the Methodist Overseas Mission ran Mogumber (at Moore River) from 1951 until it closed. By the 1950s, the Methodist Church was also running high school hostels in regional and metropolitan areas, for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.
From its inception, the Methodist Church was also involved in 'outreach' activities, including establishing the Wesley Church Canteen in the city. The Methodist Church started a Newspaper Boys' Club', which ran in the 1920s and was reported to support boys who sold newspapers on the streets and who had 'come to know many of the difficulties of life very early indeed' and who needed 'helpers' who understood and appreciated the boys' 'special characteristics and often their special form of bravado'. This outreach, social work approach possibly influenced the relatively early adoption of 'in home' support that was being practised from Mofflyn in the mid-1980s as an alternative to taking children 'into care'.
1829 - 1977 Methodist Church
1977 - Uniting Church in Australia (Synod of Western Australia)
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Methodist Church', The West Australian, 9 March 1915, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28586288; Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'Methodist Church; Mofflyn', 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; Roy, Richard B, 'Methodist church', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 571-572; Tilbrook, Lois, Nyungar Tradition : glimpses of Aborigines of south-western Australia 1829-1914, Online version published by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in 2007, University of Western Australia Press, 1983, http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/catalogue_resources/m0022954.pdf. pp.20, 41..
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 16 March 2013, Last modified: 31 October 2017