The Northcote Farm School was established at Glenmore, near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, in 1937. It was the only institution in Victoria to have been constructed specifically for child migrants. From 1937 to 1958, the Northcote Farm School received a total of 273 child migrants and from 1962 it accepted local children, including wards of the state. It was run by the Northcote Trust until the Social Welfare Department took over in 1976. It closed in 1979.
The Northcote Farm School was established at Glenmore, near Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, in 1937. The Farm was established as a result of a bequest by Lady Northcote, an admirer of Kingsley Fairbridge and his Farm School initiative. The Farm School was based on Fairbridge principles.
Although the Northcote Farm was established independently of Fairbridge it soon developed a close relationship with the Fairbridge Society, with the Society agreeing to select and send children from Britain to the farm school.
The Northcote Farm School received 273 child migrants in total, between 1937 and 1958 (Lost Innocents Report, Table 3.2 Numbers of Fairbridge Child Migrants).
A group of 28 children (16 boys and 12 girls, the first girls to be placed at the farm school) arrived on the Largs Bay ship on 17 May 1938, bound for the Northcote Farm at Bacchus Marsh. The Age newspaper reported that many of these children were related to the first group of migrant boys who arrived at Northcote Farm in July 1937.
According to the entry in the Victorian Heritage Database:
Due to the war, child migration was suspended between 1939 and 1948, and in view of the decline in arrivals, in 1944 all Northcote children, and a number of cottage mothers were sent to the Fairbridge Farm School at Molong. From 1948 until 1958, 17 more groups of children were brought to the Lady Northcote Children's Village. As child migrant numbers were in decline, 'One Parent' and 'Two Parent' schemes were adopted by Northcote in 1959.
The Northcote School Act was passed in 1960, making it possible for other children, including Victorian wards of state, to be placed at the Home. According to the preamble of the Act:
In the mid 1970s, the Northcote Trustees sold part of the farm school site at Bacchus Marsh in Victoria and gifted the village to the Victorian Government (the terms of this sale were set out in the Northcote Trust Fund Act 1975).
Children were then housed in cottages in a campus setting.
It was a government-run children's Home until it was closed in 1979. Funds were redirected to replacement family group homes and to support other regional family service programs.
In 2008, the Recreation Camp is owned by Sport and Recreation Victoria and continues its association with children and young people.
One of its remaining buildings, House 12, was granted to the 'Old Northcotians', the former residents' society.
In October 2008 the Lady Northcote Recreation Camp was included in Victoria's Heritage Register for its cultural heritage significance. It is the only institution in Victoria to have been constructed specifically for child migrants.
In 2021, the Commonwealth and Victorian governments have agreed to be a funder of last resort for this institution. This means that although the institution is now defunct, it is participating in the National Redress Scheme, and the government has agreed to pay the institution's share of costs of providing redress to a person (as long as the government is found to be equally responsible for the abuse a person experienced).
Sources used to compile this entry: Young Immigrants, The Age, 18 May 1938, 12 pp, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206955033; 'Northcote School Act 1960', in Victorian Historical Acts, Australasian Legal Information Institute, 1960, http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/hist_act/nsa1960196/; James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001, https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/DHS.3004.011.0367.pdf; Senate Community Affairs References Committee Secretariat, Parliament of Australia, Lost Innocents: righting the record - report on child migration, Commonwealth of Australia, 30 August 2001, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/completed_inquiries/1999-02/child_migrat/report/index.htm; 'Victorian Heritage Database place details - 22/10/2015 - Lady Northcote recreation camp', in Victorian Heritage Database, http://vhd.heritagecouncil.vic.gov.au/places/26773.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 6 March 2009, Last modified: 7 December 2021