Koonibba Children's Home was established by the Lutheran Church near Ceduna in 1913 as part of the Kooniba Mission Station. The aim of the home was to enable the removal of Aboriginal children so that they could be raised in the Lutheran faith. The Home initially accommodated 28 children but later increased to up to 70. The Koonibba Children's Home closed in 1963 when the South Australian Government took control of the Mission.
In 1899 the Lutheran Church leased an area of 16,000 acres (6477 hectares) west of Ceduna from the South Australian Government with the aim of establishing a mission. In December 1901 the first missionary, Pastor C A Wiebusch, arrived in the area and Koonibba Mission Station began to operate.
In late 1913 the Mission turned its focus to children and Koonibba Children's Home was officially opened on 9 November 1913. The aim of the Home was to enable the removal of Aboriginal children in order that they be 'removed from the camp atmosphere, and brought up in a Christian atmosphere'.
The first matron of the Home was Matron Miss A von Einem. The fourteen room stone building on five acres (2 hectares) provided accommodation for the matron and staff of the Home, and two large bedrooms and several smaller rooms for children. As well as kitchen, bathroom, pantry and cellar, the home had a large dining room and assembly hall/kindergarten. The Home initially accommodated 28 children. Over the years numbers increased to as many as 70, necessitating numerous additions and improvements to the building.
A superintendent's report from 1931 described the work of the Children's Home:
The two girls about fifteen or sixteen years old, we had to bring in by persuasion that they were not given a chance to resist. We found them wandering about the bush and it was quite evident that it was our duty to bring them in and save their souls. They have made excellent progress both in school and at the domestic work they are asked to do in the Home.
The Koonibba Children's Home closed in July 1963 when the South Australian Government took over the control of the Mission. The Mission came under the control of the Koonibba Aboriginal Community Council in 1975.
Koonibba Lutheran Children's Home
was mentioned in the Bringing Them Home Report (1997) as an institution that housed Indigenous children removed from their families.
Sources used to compile this entry: George, Karen, Finding your own way, Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc., 2005, http://nunku.org.au/resources/; Mullighan, the Hon E.P., Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry: Allegations of sexual abuse and death from criminal conduct, presented to the South Australian Parliament by the Hon. E.P. Mullighan QC, Commisioner, Children in State Care Commission of Enquiry, Adelaide, South Australia, 2008, 564 pp, https://www.childprotection.sa.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/107201/children-in-state-care-commission-of-inquiry-introducation.pdf.
Prepared by: Karen George and Gary George
Created: 14 February 2011, Last modified: 5 September 2017