Kyewong, in Como, was established around 1967 as a government-run education and employment hostel for Aboriginal high school-age children who came from country areas to continue their education in Perth. In 1970, it was transferred to the Baptist Union, for young women coming to Perth from Marribank, seeking employment. By 1975, the hostel had been transferred to the Department for Community Welfare and was used for short to medium-term accommodation of school-age girls who were wards of the State. It is likely that boys were admitted from 1984 when Kyewong became a community support hostel. From 1987 at least, children who were involved in the youth justice system were admitted. Kyewong closed around 2002.
Government reports (Signposts 2004, pp.281-282) show that Kyewong Hostel was initially run by the Department of Native Welfare as a hostel for young Aboriginal women of working age from regional Western Australia who were seeking work, or working, in Perth. 'Kyewong' means 'Home' or 'Resting Place'.
By 1970, at the request of the Baptist Church, the management of the Kyewong Hostel was transferred to the Baptist Union so that Aboriginal young women from Marribank could have supported accommodation when they came to Perth to work. At this time, house-parents were described by Wilson and Robinson in their survey of Aboriginal hostels (Signposts p.281) as 'a young ex-teacher family from Collie'.
By 1975, control of Kyewong Hostel had been transferred to the Department for Community welfare, who accommodated girls who were wards of the State. The department described Kyewong Hostel in 1976 (Signposts pp.281-282) as a brick building in a suburban street that had: 'a garden and play area; 4 bedrooms - 2 doubles and 2 which could sleep three or more girls; a dining room; 2 bathrooms and 2 toilets; a pool or table tennis table; TV, piano; radio or radiogram, and magazines were available.' The department reported that the girls caught a bus to school and took their lunch. On average, girls stayed at the Kyewong Hostel for 9 months. The department reported that girls were permitted to participate in 'sporting clubs and social activities'.
In 1984, the Kyewong Hostel changed its function and became part of a network of departmental hostels known as Community Support Hostels. It is not known whether boys were also admitted from this time, but it is likely. Generally, Kyewong could accommodate up to eight children aged 6 to 17 years. From this time, staff were rostered on a 24 hour basis rather than living in as house parents.
By 1987, authorities reported (Signposts p.283) that 'children on arrest or remand' who could not return home were also admitted.
In 1994, the department had reorganized its community support hostels and Kyewong was run as part of the McCall Centre program. At this stage, Kyewong was reported (Signposts p.283) as 'providing accommodation and support for 11-17 year olds for periods from two weeks to 12 months' and purchases of 'bus passes, keys and movie tickets' were recorded in that year.
By around 2002, Kyewong closed and a new residential unit, Youth Equip Services, was built on the Como site in 2003.
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.281-284', Signposts: A Guide for Children and Young People in Care in WA from 1920, Government of Western Australia, 2004, https://signposts.communities.wa.gov.au//pdf/pdf.aspx; Moore, Richard K (ed) and Baptist Historical Society of Western Australia, Baptists of Western Australia : the first ninety years 1895-1985, Baptist Historical Society of Western Australia, 1991. p.216.; State Records Office of Western Australia, Wards - Director's Approval to Transfer from one Institution to Another and Amend Training, Reference Code AU WA S1099- cons2607 A0191 V4 (p.93) - page numbers refer to PDF page number in digital file held by the Department of Communities (Child Protection and Family Support) in 2017.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 22 November 2018