Bidura in Glebe was a historic house that was acquired by the New South Wales Government in 1920. It was converted to a depot and receiving home, holding children while they awaited foster placements, children's court hearings or transfer to other establishments. Many children stayed for extended periods. In 1923 it was named the Metropolitan Girls' Shelter, although this moved to a separate building on the same site. Bidura closed as a children's home in 1977.
Bidura was used as a depot for children involved in hearings in the Children's Court, which was located at Albion Street in Surry Hills. Bidura housed children prior to children's court hearings and held those who had been committed to state care and were awaiting placement in foster care or institutions, or were returning from placements.
In 1923 Bidura was designated the Metropolitan Girls' Shelter, but this seems to have moved to a separate building, that was entered from Avon Street, by 1936.
By 1939 Bidura housed boys up to six years of age and girls up to 18 years, with an attached school operated by a governess. The school was required because residents of Glebe opposed the attendance of state children in local schools. Bidura was also, until at least the 1950s, the site of the Child Welfare Department's clothing store.
Bidura is one of the finest houses in Glebe. It was designed by Edward Blacket and built between 1858 and 1860. However, by the time it was used by the Child Welfare Department it was aging and, as early as the 1930s, reports into the operations of the Department questioned whether it was appropriate for the accommodation of children.
Many female state wards and children attending court in the Sydney area passed through Bidura a number of times. The submissions to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into Institutional Care record degrading experiences, such as having their hair doused in kerosene and bound in rags, and that girls were submitted to humiliating internal examinations, that would be repeated at the next institution they were sent to. They also report much sadness at being separated from their male siblings.
According to research done by the staff of the Northern Territory Department of Health, it was a place where children from the Northern Territory were sent, prior to being placed at Winbin in Strathfield.
Bidura was restored by New South Wales Public Works in the 1980s and is currently occupied by the Department of Community Services' Centre for Parenting and Research. The property is classified by the National Trust.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Catholic Women's Association: Hospital Visitors' Activities', The Catholic Press, 10 September 1936, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/106380489; 'Submission 8', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care - Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, Commonwealth of Australia, 2005, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist; Bidura, State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016. Also available at https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/4154; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Durant (nee Green), Carmel, 'Our Story', in Inside: Children's Homes, National Museum of Australia, Australian Government, 2010, https://web.archive.org/web/20180306142238/http://nma.gov.au/blogs/inside/2010/03/05/our-story/; 'Heritage Buildings: Bidura, 357 Glebe Point Road', in The Glebe Society, The Glebe Society, http://www.glebesociety.org.au/wordpress/?buildings=bidura; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Communication from Find & Connect South Australian team about research by staff of the Northern Territory Department of Health into institutions where children from the Northern Territory were sent, dated 10 April 2012.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 30 April 2014