Riverina Welfare Farm for Boys, Yanco

State Records Authority of New South Wales
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In 1928 the Yanco Experimental Farm, controlled by the Department of Agriculture was accepted by the Child Welfare Department as a site for a Training Farm for delinquent boys. (1) On 4 July 1928, in pursuance of provisions of the Child Welfare Act (No. 21, 1923) the farm was proclaimed "an Industrial School for reception, detention and maintenance of children". The farm was known as "Riverina Welfare Farm for Boys, Yanco". (2)

The Yanco farm provided more accommodation than the Gosford Farm Home for Boys and in contrast to the Gosford home, the soil was suitable for agriculture. The site occupied an area of 2043 acres and in addition to the farm included a 50 acre orchard, garden and grazing paddocks and a stud cattle breeding programme.(3)

By 23 June 1928 a party of boys had transferred from the Gosford Farm Home. (4) They were accompanied by the Superintendent of the Gosford Home, Major Arthur Parsonage whose former position at Gosford was filled on 26 July 1928. (5) Initially, boys aged 18 or close to that age who were approaching the end of their sentence and who had received their parents’ permission volunteered for inclusion in the new project. Those selected had responded to the training programme at Gosford. The scheme was not available to those who had been sex offenders. The purpose of the project was to give the boys basic training in agriculture over a period of 12 months. It was felt that the opportunity for close contact with farming families, and the acquisition of workplace skills immediately prior to their release from custody would prepare them for integration into the community. (6)

Officers of the Department of Agriculture were employed to instruct the boys in farming techniques. All boys received training in a range of farming activities - work in the dairy, garden, orchard, farm, the methods of irrigation and dry farming. The Farm became a successful sheep breeding establishment preparing the boys to pursue shearing or wool classing as occupations. Tomatoes and peas were grown for a local cannery and there was a large vegetable garden. (7)

From 1932, some male wards from the Child Welfare Home at Mittagong entered the project to alleviate the overcrowding caused by the closure of the Royleston Children's depot. (8)

A new dormitory building constructed with the boys’ help between 1933 and 1936 increased the accommodation capacity from 150 to 200. (9)

From the middle of the 1930’s a majority of the boys were of lower than average intelligence and school teachers from the Department of Education were employed to help boys with their general education and manual skills. (10)

The Riverina Welfare Farm was taken over by the military authorities in March 1942 and on 13 March 1942 the 39 boys in residence at Yanco were transferred to the Gosford Home.(11) Evidence suggests that some boys remained in residence until at least 20 March, 1942 when records indicate boys at the Home were attended by a Doctor. (12)

A proclamation on 16 August, 1946 established and constituted the institution as a school "for the reception, detention, maintenance, discipline, education and training of young persons committed to such institutions". It was to be known as "The Riverina Welfare Farm for Boys". (13) The home never re-opened as a child welfare centre.

(1) Child Welfare Department Report for the years 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, p. 24 in NSW Parliamentary Papers 1930-31-32 vol. 1 p. 755
(2) NSW Government Gazette 1928 vol. 1 p. 3469
(3) Child Welfare Department Report for the years 1930 and 1931, p. 27 in NSW Parliamentary Papers 1932 2nd session vol. 1 p. 525
(4) Archives Authority of NSW. Riverina Welfare Farm for Boys, Yanco. Doctor’s book, 23 June 1928 - 20 March 1942 (City 8/2136)
(5) NSW Government Gazette 1928 vol. 2 p.4235
(6) Child Welfare Department Report for the years 1926, 1927, 1928 and 1929, p. 27 op. cit.
(7) Ibid
(8) Ibid
(9) Child Welfare Department Annual Report for years ended 30 June 1942 and 1943, p. 15 in NSW Parliamentary Papers, 1945-46 vol. 1 p. 85
(10) Boyle, B The Child Welfare Schools p.282
(11) Child Welfare Department Annual Report for the years ended 30 June, 1942 and 1943 p. 15 op. cit.
(12) Doctor’s book, 23 June 1928 - 20 March 1942 op. cit.
(13) NSW Government Gazette, 1946 vol. 2 p. 1847

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