Some people may find content on this website distressing. Read more
The Find & Connect website is changing soon Read more
Western Australia - Organisation

Wandering Mission (1944 - 1979)

  • Wandering Mission

    Wandering Mission, 1960? - 1970?, courtesy of Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Catholic, Home and Mission
Alternative Names
  • St Francis Xavier Community Centre (also known as)
  • St Francis Xavier Mission (also known as)
  • St Xavier Mission (also known as)
  • St Xavier Native Mission (also known as)

Wandering Mission was established by the Catholic Archbishop of Perth in 1944, as a day school with a dormitory for Aboriginal girls, run by the Pallottines (Society of the Catholic Apostolates). Boys were admitted from 1951. Children aged 4-15 years were accommodated at Wandering, at the request of parents or government authorities. The head of the government departments responsible for Aboriginal welfare was the guardian of all children until 1963 those who were wards of the State or 'native wards' until 1972. The mission closed in 1979 and some children were transferred to Centrecare Children's Cottages at Beverley, Brookton and Northam.


Wandering Mission was established by the Catholic Archbishop of Perth, Archbishop Prendiville, in 1944. It was run the by Pallottine fathers and brothers, possibly with involvement from the Schoenstatt Sisters.

Starting as a school for Aboriginal girls from the Reserves in Boddington, Narrogin, Williams, Pingelly and Brookton, Wandering Mission also had boarding facilities for children who couldn't attend on a daily basis.

From 1951, boys were also admitted to Wandering, beginning with boys whose sisters were at the mission.

In 1951, when the Moore River and Carrolup 'native settlements' closed, some of those children were sent to Wandering.

By 1960, children were going out to government primary schools and Boddington Junior High School. Some farm skills training was provided for older youth at the mission. By 1968, some children were housed in cottages rather than dormitories.

The process of closing Wandering mission began around 1978 and discussions about alternative accommodation for the children was discussed by the mission's manager and the newly-appointed head of Catholic welfare in Perth, Father (later, Archbishop) Hickey who was at that time planning to develop 'scatter cottages' to accommodate children family-size homes in towns rather than in dormitories on missions. Thus, Centrecare Children's Cottages were established and, in 1979, children from Wandering were transferred to Centrecare Children's Cottages at Beverley, Brookton and Northam.

In 2017 three men (two former teachers and a Catholic Priest) were charged with a number of sexual offences committed against children at Wandering Mission. The investigation was launched as a result of the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.


1944 - 1979
Location - Wandering Mission was located along Mission Road, Wandering. Location: Wandering

Related Concepts

Related Glossary Terms

Related Organisations



  • Ward, Glenyse, Wandering Girl, Magabala Books, Broome, Western Australia, 1988, 157 pages pp. Details


  • Wilson, Katrin and Michael V. Robinson., Aboriginal Hostels in Perth : A Comparative Survey, Department of Native Welfare, [Perth, W.A.], 1971. Details


Online Resources


Wandering Mission
Wandering Mission
1960? - 1970?
Australian Broadcasting Corporation


February 1997
West Australian social worker February 1997 p.4-5, State Library of Western Australia


Sources used to compile this entry: To Remove and Protect: Aboriginal Lives Under Control [website], 2010,; Djooraminda [Document], Date: February 1997; Longworth, Alison, Was it worthwhile?, An historical analysis of five women missionaries and their encounters with the Nyungar people of south-west Australia, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia, 2005, pp.298-299.; State Solicitor's Office of Western Australia, 'p.137', Guide to Institutions Attended by Aboriginal People in Western Australia, Government of Western Australia, 2005,

Prepared by: Debra Rosser