The Reformatory for Protestant Girls set up by the Victorian government after the passage of the Neglected and Criminal Children's Act in 1864 was originally situated in Sunbury, in close proximity to the Industrial School for Boys.
With the demise in Victoria of industrial schools and the introduction instead of a system of 'boarding out' 'neglected' children, the girls' reformatory was moved to temporary quarters in Melbourne. It soon relocated again to Coburg, to new premises 'in immediate contiguity' to Pentridge Prison. It operated there from 1875 until 1895 when it closed.
The girls' proximity to prisoners, not to the mention to the city, caused the government to consider relocating the reformatory to more appropriate surroundings. The Secretary of the Department reported in 1891 of how the next 'desirable site' for the reformatory would be distant from the prison, the city, and also inaccessible to the girls' relatives and former associates, 'whose visits almost invariably have been found to have an evil influence and very unsettling effect on the girls'.
At the reformatory, girls were trained in domestic service, sewing and doing the laundry of private citizens in the area.
In 1890, an editorial in the Age lauded the private reformatory known as Brookside and compared its farm life with the conditions facing girls at Coburg. It posed the question, 'Can no one else be found to emulate this truly noble example?'
Following the closure of the Jika Reformatory for Girls, the residents were allocated to either the Homes at Brookside, the Roman Catholic Reformatory for Girls at Oakleigh and the Albion Reformatory for Girls, run by the Salvation Army in Brunswick.
Sources used to compile this entry: Guillaume, George; Connor, Edward C., The Development and Working of the Reformatory and Preventive Systems in the Colony of Victoria, Australia, 1864-1890, Government Printer, Melbourne, 1891. Also available at http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/243591; Mem, Farm Life for Reformatory Girls: being an account of a visit to 'Brookside' Private Reformatory with editorial comments, Reprinted from the Melbourne "Age", January 25 1890, Melville, Mullen & Slade and M.L. Hutchison, Melbourne, 1890. Also available at http://nla.gov.au/nla.aus-vn1471778.
Prepared by: Cate O'Neill
Created: 4 June 2009, Last modified: 14 January 2019