In 1947 the Government purchased a fifty-two acre (21 hectares) market gardening and fruit growing property, on the banks of the River Torrens at Campbelltown. Initially a small number of staff supervised selected boys from the Boys' Reformatory, Magill, who were brought to the farm each day to maintain the property and learn gardening. However, Lochiel Park was intended to be a secure care facility for boys with mild intellectual disabilities, learning difficulties and behavioural problems. Although calls were made for permanent accommodations to be constructed at Lochiel Park for this purpose from the late 1940s, no construction began until 1956.
In 1957-58 a cottage was finally completed at Lochiel Park ready to accommodate twelve boys. A Superintendent and matron, Mr and Mrs J Cocks, were appointed. They remained in charge of the centre until their resignation in 1971. The first boys were admitted to Lochiel Park Boys' Training Centre in May 1958. By June of that year, six boys aged between 14 and 17 were in residence. Numbers soon increased to eleven.
Boys slept in a special dormitory consisting of twelve individual cubicles. The cottage also provided a kitchen, dining room, hobbies room and sitting room. By 1962 a two-storey building near the cottage had been converted to provide three more dormitories for boys, as well as further accommodation for staff.
While resident at the centre, boys trained and worked in the citrus orchard and market garden. They cared for poultry and later dairy cows. As well as regular elementary schooling, boys learned handicrafts and took part in sport. As described in the 1962 Annual Report, 'considerable attention' was given to the boys' 'personal appearance, speech, hygiene and social development'.
Boys were allowed group excursions and some occasional individual outings. They were also granted leave on weekends and holidays to visit family.
By 1970 Lochiel Park was home to 36 boys, a small number of whom had been transferred from other Departmental institutions under a hostel-type arrangement. They attended the local Technical High School or other special classes. Other boys placed there had been committed to the care of the department following conviction for an offence.
According to the report of the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry, some boys from the Salvation Army Boys' Home, Eden Park were also sent to Lochiel Park. A staff member who gave evidence to the Inquiry said this was a problem because these boys were 'hardened' by their experiences of 'congregate care' at Eden Park and were in close contact with more vulnerable, younger boys.
During the 1970s, when institutions came under the control of the Department for Community Welfare, boys underwent thorough psychological testing before being placed at Lochiel Park. Once committed to the institution, an individual training program was established for each boy. As boys completed their training, they were placed in suitable outside employment, leaving and returning daily. This aimed to gradually adapt them to life in the general community. There were generally around 20 boys aged between 12 and 18 accommodated at the centre.
While Lochiel Park was providing temporary care and accommodation for boys who were able to return to living in the community, from 1971 children with disabilities requiring long-term care were sent to the Strathmont Centre or to the Ru Rua Nursing Home.
In 1977 residential care at Lochiel Park was divided into two units. The first was a secure unit for new residents who had yet to adjust to life at the centre, and the second was an open unit. A third unit was established in 1979 to assist boys with the transition to independent living.
In the 1990s the open style of residential care at Lochiel Park became a concern because young and vulnerable children were living in close proximity to young offenders. Lochiel Park came under scrutiny during the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry, particularly in relation to the issue of boys absconding to the city for long periods of time during the 1990s.
Lochiel Park continued to operate until 1995 when it was converted into a community living unit for intellectually disabled children, the Lochiel Park Community Unit, also known as The Lodge.
08 April 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/sa/SE00076
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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