St Margaret's Hostel for 'unmarried mothers and their babies' was run by the Sisters of Mercy from 1918 as an extension of St Vincent's Foundling Home in Subiaco. It is probable that babies from St Margaret's were adopted, fostered or lived at St Vincent's Foundling Home until they were old enough to be moved to St Vincent's Girls' Orphanage or Castledare. St Margaret's Hostel (also known as St Margaret's Home for Pregnant Girls) closed in 1971.
In evidence to the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on the State Children Act Amendment Bill in October 1918, the Catholic Archbishop of Perth described St Margaret's Hostel. Newly added at a cost of £12,000, they hoped to accommodate mothers and their children for 'nine months, with the object of safeguarding infant life, because we believe that the breast feeding is the one remedy.' Women might pay to stay at St Margaret's or 'if necessary' they would 'take the mother and her child for nothing'. This was funded through 'entertainments' and donations. These women were 'expected to do the washing, and keep the place clean.' The Archbishop reported there were 7 women admitted at that time, but there was room for 20.
Sources used to compile this entry: Grant, Beryl, 'Ngala', in Gregory, Jenny and Jan Gothard [editors] (eds), Historical Encyclopedia of Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, Crawley, W.A., 2009, pp. 635-636; Pushong, Lyn, Heritage Trail: A journey through the history of MercyCare, MercyCare, 2008. p.8.; Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Council on the State Children Act Amendment Bill [Document], Date: 19 November 1918.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 3 February 2013, Last modified: 12 November 2018