St Paul's Training School, run by the Mission of St James and St John, was situated in 'delightful surroundings' at Newhaven on Phillip Island.
Before it was taken over by the Mission, it had been known as the Newhaven Reformatory, or the Newhaven Boys' Home.
From 1928 the School received 'delinquent boys' sent to the Home on court orders or following a request to the Mission from police or others keen to prevent any further, or more serious, offending by a boy.
One history of the Mission of St James and St John states that the location at Newhaven, before the San Remo bridge had been built, made escape from the Home difficult.
Many boys at St Paul's attended Newhaven State School.
The School had a vegetable garden, dairy farm and a carpenter's shop. After a visit to St Paul's in 1930, the Archbishop wrote in the Visitor's Book, 'This work is a Diocesan glory'.
The Missioner reported on St Paul's to the Melbourne Diocesan Synod in 1949:
'The average population of St Paul's is fifty lads, many of whom have been before the children's courts. Some are taken in charge at the request of their parents, who have found them uncontrollable. They range in ages from ten to fifteen. Domestic tragedies, squalid surroundings, unfortunately family histories, bad companions - strange and pathetic circumstances have all helped to start them along the wrong track. The Mission seeks to divert them, and the work is not easy … Vocational training [and farm work] is given … to help them to a life of good citizenship and usefulness.'
The Children's Welfare Department described St Paul's in 1939, reporting that it had 43 boys in its 'care', 15 of whom were state wards. St Paul's confined its work with boys to those up to the age of 14. The Department praised St Paul's 'well equipped engineer's shop and 'fine carpentry shop'.
St Paul's Training School saw environment as a more powerful shaping factor of problem boys than heredity, and the surroundings at Phillip Island were seen as playing a role in each boy's transformation. St Paul's principal was Reverend E.H. Faulkner who developed a system of discipline for the boys, which saw flogging as useless.
Faulkner's system revolved around 'privileges' - a boy arrived at St Paul's with no privileges, and the aim was to gain more and more privileges during his stay. The 'first house' was for boys with the most privileges, the 'best boys who must be a preventive influence upon the lower class boys and those without privileges'. A boy had to 'fight his way' up from the lowest to the highest house. The system was understood by every boy within three days of arrival, according to Faulkner.
An honour roll acknowledged the good behaviour and achievements of boys. Badges were placed next to a boy's name as he earned them. It would seem that any bad behaviour was also evident to the staff, by consulting a chart, which for Faulkner, was able to show him 'at a glance a boy's whole life at the home'.
Faulkner wrote that boys at St Paul's were kept under close supervision by a roll call every 20 minutes, making high fences and barred windows unnecessary. Of the daily routine at St Paul's, Faulkner wrote that the day started with prayers in the chapel, and that every day, consisting of 'sport and work', was 'organised from beginning to end'.
A court was held at St Paul's every morning, where the house-master could report any wrongdoing by the boys. Faulkner wrote that boys before the court were innocent until proven guilty, and were given a chance to explain their cases.
In 1934, the Mission took over a Home adjacent to St Paul's, the Seaside Garden Home. Seaside Garden was also a facility for 'problem boys', originally set up as a non-denominational institution. The Charities Board requested the Mission take over its operations following serious criticisms about conditions at the Home, including the death of one boy. About 50 boys from Seaside Garden were discharged, and the Mission took in the remaining 70 boys. Seaside Garden Home was renamed St Barnabas'. It was soon closed in 1939, due to financial concerns.
Faulkner resigned due to ill health in 1938, and died just eight months later. Cole writes that Faulkner's time at St Paul's, including its isolated location, had caused severe physical and mental strain, 'which combined to aggravate a somewhat serious war injury which it had been hoped would have been a thing of the past'.
Reverend G.S. Hall took over as Principal, and was at St Paul's from 1939 to 1950. Hall had previously been at St Nicholas' in Glenroy.
It was the Mission's policy not to keep boys at St Paul's for any longer than necessary, and Cole writes that the vast majority of boys left 'with a clean sheet'. The Mission acknowledged that its success with most boys had a negative impact on the rehabilitation of other boys, as the 'better boys' left the Home, just when their good behaviour could have a positive effect on others.
In 1952, there was controversy when the press reported that boys at St Paul's were punished by having their hair clipped short and being locked in a small gaol cell.
A Herald article discussed the case of one 'baldie' who was punished from absconding and trying to visit his mother in Melbourne. The journalist described the punishment as degrading, and the physical conditions at St Paul's as 'cold and unwelcoming'. However, he also wrote of the 'good features of the institution' and judged that 'On the whole, the boys are treated with fairness and kindness.'
In 1955, St Paul's Training School as a 'home for the care of delinquent boys' was closed, due to insufficient numbers of delinquents (more government-run Homes were opening during this period), and also because of changing ideas about the care of young offenders. Eleven remaining state wards were returned to the 'care' of the Department. From this point, St Paul's became eligible as a boys' home.
In 1997 the Mission of St James and St John became part of Anglicare Victoria. At this time, records of the Mission were transferred to Anglicare Victoria. These included records of the various orphanages, homes and other residences run by the Mission. The custodian of these records is Anglicare Victoria.
10 August 2021
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/vic/E000094
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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