The Edwardstown Industrial School opened in 1898 on the site of the former Girls Reformatory. That year all of the girls were moved out of the reformatory and transferred to Catholic and Protestant Homes in country areas. After the transfer was completed, the Magill Industrial School closed and all the children in residence were relocated to the Edwardstown Industrial School.
Like the Magill Industrial School, the Edwardstown Industrial School was a receiving home for children placed into State care. The children at Edwardstown came from varying circumstances. Many had suffered the loss or desertion of one or both parents. Others had been removed from parents because they were defined as 'neglected'. Some children with physical and/or intellectual disabilities were also placed at the School. Children remained at the institution for varying lengths of time. Many remained only briefly prior being boarded out or sent to other institutions.
Although the Industrial School was not a school or training institution, it did have a school section which was run by the Education Department, with children being taught from the regular curriculum.
During 1910-1911, the State Children's Council became aware of a number of deaths of very young children placed at the Industrial School. As part of their investigation of the causes, the Council asked for input from the Matron. In January 1911 she reported to the Council that the institution was overcrowded and that one of the main reasons for the increase in deaths was the placing of very young, often frail and unwell children in the School. She suggested that the increase in the number of these children meant that:
'The Industrial School has so far been the Infants Hospital and we cannot possibly hope to save all the children at the same time.'
The Trained Nurse who worked alongside the Matron in the position of Sub-matron also responded describing the circumstances of a number of the children who had died. She emphasized that she and the Matron worked day and night caring for children who were ill and they took all possible precautions to prevent infections from spreading.
The Council asked the Matron for suggestions for reducing the number of deaths. As a result of the investigation, new rules came into force. Any child who showed signs of serious illness was sent directly to hospital. As a preventative measure, feeding regulations were displayed more prominently at the Industrial School, children were weighed regularly and the results recorded on a weighing card.
Life in the Industrial School during the early part of the twentieth century was harsh. Discipline was strict, food unvaried, activities limited and work hours long and hard. Staff numbers were small for the number of children in the institution. During the late 1920s the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board (which replaced the State Children's Council) became concerned about the mingling of girls and boys at the institution. As a solution, the Board resolved that girls of all ages and boys under the age of six would be moved to Seaforth Home. From 1928, the Industrial school became a home for boys aged six to 18.
From the 1930s the Edwardstown Industrial School was also used as a Remand Home for children awaiting appearance before the courts for committing offences. Children continued to be moved on from the Industrial School to other institutions, were placed out into foster care or service or were adopted.
In 1938 the Advertiser newspaper reported on the alleged flogging of a nine year old boy at the Industrial School. This incident moved forward the government's plans for an inquiry into the treatment of children described at the time as 'delinquent'. The 1939 Inquiry into 'Delinquent and other children in the care of the state', found that boys who had committed offences were also being placed at the Industrial School even though it was only meant to accommodate boys deemed to be destitute or neglected. The Inquiry also found that the School provided insufficient overall supervision of boys and no supervision of older boys at night. The only trained staff members on site in that era were the Matron and an Education Department teacher.
The report described the School as having a 'general depressing atmosphere', increased by the 'unnecessarily high galvanised iron fence' and the presence of 'two cells, with locks and bars' standing prominently in what passed for a garden.
By the early 1940s over 140 boys resided at Edwardstown. The Industrial School remained overcrowded and understaffed. In 1944 and 1945 members of the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board visited the Industrial School and reported that it had 'an appearance of general neglect' and that there was a real need for creating 'more home-like conditions'. The Board suggested that these conditions and the shortage of staff had contributed to an increased number boys absconding from the institution.
In 1947, the Board expressed concern at sexual misconduct between boys at the school. A year later, a male attendant at the school was charged with indecent assault of two teenage boys. During the later 1940s a number of boys were transferred to the Boys Reformatory at Magill for sexual misconduct.
In 1948, the Board again reported its concern about 'the obvious lack of supervision over the boys' and suggested that
'consideration should be given to introducing proper night lighting, supervision through doors, and better records from staff on evening and night duty'
Records show that the Industrial School remained overcrowded to the end of the decade although numbers of staff were increased.
During the 2004-2008 Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry, a number of Forgotten Australians came forward to report abuse that had occurred at the Industrial School during the 1940s.
In 1950 the Edwardstown Industrial School changed its name to the Glandore Industrial School.
08 April 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE00064
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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