Home of the Good Shepherd (for 'Destitute Women and Girls') was established in 1902, in Perth. It housed women and girls who were sent by the Police Court. In 1904, the Home of the Good Shepherd moved to Leederville, and included an orphanage school. After 1914, pregnant women were sent to the St Vincent's Foundling Home (later, St Margaret's Hostel section) to have their babies. An industrial school opened alongside in 1909. The facility closed in the 1970s and now houses the Catholic Education Office.
In October 1902, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd arrived in Perth from Melbourne, setting up a convent and commercial laundry in Adelaide Terrace, Perth. Almost immediately, they took in young women and girls of any religious background who were seeking 'reform' or to 'shun temptation'. They earned their keep by working in the laundry. Women and girls were sent there for a period of detention by the Police Courts, as an alternative to being sent to gaol. Released prisoners were also collected as they left the gaol, taken into the Home and 'given a fictitious name' while they remained there. Most were free to leave the Home at any time, but it was reported that the Home aimed to keep people for a two year period of 'reformation'. In 1904, the new Home of the Good Shepherd was opened in Leederville. It appears from newspaper reports that this operated as a laundry, a home for 'fallen women', and an orphanage school for younger girls. Some of the young women were pregnant. After 1914, they were sent to the St Vincent's Foundling Home (later, St Margaret's Hostel section) to have their babies. An industrial school opened alongside in 1909 but the two sections were kept somewhat separate. The facility closed in the 1970s and now houses the Catholic Education Office.
Homes of the Good Shepherd have been mentioned as places of cruelty and harsh labour in inquiries held in Australia and overseas. These claims are not new - newspapers in Western Australia reported a case of cruetly in France in 1903 that led to a £400 compensation payment for an orphan who had been wrongly detained, overworked and blinded. The West Australian was accused by the Sunday Times of 'eulogising' the work of the Good Shepherd nuns and overlooking the 'fact that no church reclamation society seems to have risen above - that these women are sweated in return for such as they get - that they are compelled to toil to keep the institution going, and toil without wages'. At that time (1903), the Sunday Times advocated that commercial laundries run by churches should be regulated by the Factories Act so that unfair competition with 'general laundresses' and sweating (or exploitation) of labour could be stopped. A woman charged with being 'a person of evil fame' made accusations about her ill-treatment at the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Perth while she was detained there in 1903. Her evidence was not believed by the court, and The West Australian gave a right of reply to the Sisters. This account provided some insight into the conditions at the laundry, where it was apparently common to suffer burns in the course of that work. The issue of keeping girls and women wanting an opportunity to 'reform' away from the influence of those of 'ill repute' was also discussed as a matter of great concern.
After it closed, the buildings were restored for use by the Catholic Education Office. The precinct of buildings is included on the State Heritage Register (Place No. 08880).
Sources used to compile this entry: 'The Good Shepherd Nuns', The West Australian, 25 December 1902, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24851134; 'Ladies' Column [Good Shepherd Nuns]', The Daily News, 25 October 1902, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81323465; 'The Case of Emily Cresswell', The West Australian, 23 December 1903, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24840647; 'Fallen Women's Home [Good Shepherd]', Sunday Times, 15 November 1903, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57188077; 'Good Shepherd nuns', The West Australian, 16 November 1903, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24837939; 'Home of the Good Shepherd', The West Australian, 14 November 1903, p. 3, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article24837823; 'Judgement against a convent', Kalgoorlie Miner, 5 March 1903, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89061551; 'Local and general [Home of the Good Shepherd]', Bunbury Herald, 10 June 1903, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article87125608; 'Home of the Good Shepherd', Kalgoorlie Miner, 28 July 1906, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89349086; 'Social Notes [Home of the Good Shepherd]', The West Australian, 21 September 1908, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article2620933; Catholic Education Western Australia, Our History, CEWA, 2012, https://www.cewa.edu.au/about-us/cewa/our-history/; Heritage Council of Western Australia, 'Ruislip Street Catholic Precinct', in inHerit, Western Australia State Heritage Office, Government of Western Australia, 8 February 2015, http://inherit.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/public/p/8880; Hetherington, Penelope, Paupers, Poor Relief and Poor Housing in Western Australia 1829 to 1910, UWA Publishiing, Crawley, Western Australia, 2009. p.133.; 'The Home of the Good Shepherd', The West Australian, 3 October 1904, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25363791; National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, A Piece of the Story: A Research Project Undertaken by the Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission and the Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, November 1999, https://cssa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Piece-of-the-Story.pdf. p.132.; Western Australia. Department for Community Development, 'Good Shepherd Home (Leederville) pp.23-24', ROADS. An index of locations and access to adoption records., with Adoption Service, Department for Community Development, Dept. For Community Development, 2005, https://web.archive.org/web/20110327071024/http://www.dcp.wa.gov.au/FosteringandAdoption/Documents/ROADS2006.pdf.
Prepared by: Debra Rosser
Created: 11 February 2013, Last modified: 12 November 2018