The Girls' Reformatory, Magill was established in a wing of the Magill Industrial School in 1881. It was run by the government for girls who had committed offences or were deemed to have behavioural problems. Girls from the Reformatory in the Destitute Asylum were moved there. The Girls' Reformatory, Magill closed in 1891 and girls moved to the Girls' Reformatory, Edwardstown.
In 1881 girls who had committed offences and those who were deemed to have behavioural problems were moved from the Girls' Reformatory at the Destitute Asylum to a wing of the Magill Industrial School. From 1880 to 1891 this section became known as the Girls' Reformatory, Magill and was operated under the control of the government.
From the beginning the Magill building was regarded as 'unsuitable' for use as a reformatory. The Way Commission, a government Inquiry into the affairs of the Destitute Board, raised concerns about the Reformatory in its 1885 report. One of the main concerns was that the Reformatory and the Industrial School shared a staircase and that boys from the school were unavoidably coming into contact with girls from the Reformatory.
In 1887 the 16 girls in the Reformatory were under the charge of a matron, an assistant matron and four wards-women. The State Children's Council believed that this ratio of staff to girls was necessary because many of the girls were older and due to their 'previous character' required 'more constant supervision'.
While committed to the Reformatory the girls were trained in domestic duties such as cooking, housework and sewing. 'First class girls', whose conduct afforded them special privileges, prepared some meals for the institution under the supervision of a staff member. Others took it in turn to act as the matron's house servant, a role which the State Children's Council felt allowed them to put their domestic training into practice. The majority of girls discharged from the home were placed in domestic service.
In 1888, after an unoccupied room previously used by the Industrial School was handed over to the Reformatory for use as a dormitory for the first class girls, the premises was still regarded as inappropriate.
From 1897 when the matron of the Reformatory took responsibility for the laundry at the Magill Industrial School, many girls spent time in the dark, damp basement washing clothes and linen for both institutions. When not working, the girls attended classes in reading, writing and arithmetic which were held each evening except on Sunday.
In 1890 the State Children's Council Annual Report informed its readers that a marks system had been instituted at the Reformatory. Under this system, girls received marks for what was regarded as good conduct and lost marks for what was deemed poor behaviour. On the first day of each month all were brought together and each girl was 'either exalted to a higher or disrated to a lower class'. The matron considered that these ceremonies gave 'the opportunity of publicly praising the good and causing the evil to feel ashamed of their position.'
In 1891 conditions at the Reformatory led to all the girls being moved to a new purpose-built Girls' Reformatory at Edwardstown. The Industrial School was moved into the former Girls' Reformatory wing and the boys, who had been isolated on the Reformatory Hulk, moved into the former Industrial School wing after it was renovated.
1881 - 1891 Girls Reformatory, Magill
1891 - 1898 Girls' Reformatory, Edwardstown
1897 - 1909 Catholic Girls' Reformatory, Kapunda
1897 - 1922 Redruth Girls' Reformatory
1922 - 1947 Barton Vale Girls' Home
1947 - 1979 Vaughan House
1979 - 1993 South Australian Youth Remand and Assessment Centre
1993 - 2012 Magill Training Centre
2012 - Adelaide Youth Training Centre
Sources used to compile this entry: Royal Commission to Report on the Destitute Act, 1881, Second and Final Report, South Australian Parliamentary Papers 1885, Vol 4, No. 228, Provence of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, 1885; George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/; GRG29/1 Annual Report of the State Children's Council 1887, State Records of South Australia; GRG29/1 Annual Report of the State Children's Council 1888, State Records of South Australia; GRG29/1 Annual Report of the State Children's Council 1890, State Records of South Australia.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 9 February 2011, Last modified: 4 December 2015