Meekatharra Hostel was one of two government-run hostels in Meekatharra and was first known as Consols Road Hostel. It opened in 1983, for Aboriginal boys going to high school in the town. By 1995, Meekatharra Hostel was the only hostel and was fully focused on 'care and protection' admissions of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children of all ages. It is likely that Meekatharra Hostel had closed by 2005.
Government records (Signposts 2004, pp.331-333) are unclear when they refer to the two Meekatharra Hostels. The first hostel, which was probably in Darlot Street, was located in a 'transportable' building and could accommodate 12 children from surrounding areas who could live there and go to high school in Meekatharra.
By the start of the 1983 school year, another hostel had been erected and it housed boys, mostly from the Wiluna area. It is likely that this hostel was in Consols Road, on the corner of Douglas Street. Departmental reports have a range of spellings for Consols Road and Darlot Street, but 2014 Google Maps was able to show that Consols Road and Darlot Street are the correct spellings.
By 1986, one of the hostels (probably Darlot Street) was being used for emergency care of, mainly, pre-school aged children. This suggests that the demand for high school boarding was falling.
In the 1986-1987 year, the Darlot Street hostel was transferred to the Aboriginal Lands Trust and it is likely that the Consols Street Hostel became known as the Meekatharra Hostel from that point forward, as it was the only remaining hostel in the town.
The Meekatharra Hostel continued to provide what was probably a range of placements as needed by the child welfare authorities from time to time.
When it was surveyed in 1995 (OHAC Cost Project, Department for Community Services, June 1995, quoted in Signposts p.333), the Meekatharra Hostel was described as being mainly used for 'care and protection' purposes, providing 'short to medium term accommodation primarily for children for whom fostering is not an immediate option.' It was 'a ten bed cottage facility on a domestic block. Family type accommodation is provided with a live in carer. The building is a purpose built transportable and presents reasonably although there are some structural defects apparent as a consequence of mining activity. The hostel operates on a short/medium term accommodation basis, servicing Meekatharra and surrounding communities….The hostel provides a respite care service for a number of severely disabled Aboriginal children requiring specialist support as well as crisis accommodation as a consequence of protection and care assessments.'
In the 1993-1994 year, there were 178 children admitted to the Meekatharra Hostel. Most of these children were aged under 6, and only five admissions were young, non-Aboriginal people.
There were 178 admissions (mostly in the 0-6 age group, but ranging up to 18+ years, with 5 admissions involving non- Aboriginal young people) in the 1993/94 year, and the hostel had a 15 seater bus. When the hostel's budget was reviewed, it was found to be too small to allow for the replacement of bedding, furnishings and other consumables, such as school materials or play equipment.
It is likely that the Meekatharra Hostel had closed by 2005.
Sources used to compile this entry: Information Services, Department for Community Development, 'pp.331-333', 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.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 15 March 2011, Last modified: 27 August 2014