|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
The Neglected and Criminal Children's Act 1864 (No.216) provided for the establishment of industrial schools for neglected children and reformatory schools for convicted juveniles. Superintendents and matrons were to be appointed and provision was made for inspection and reporting.
Prior to 1864 convicted children could, under the Criminal Law (Infants) Act 13 Vic., No.21 1849, be assigned by the Supreme Court to persons willing to undertake their "maintenance and education". By 1863 it appears that many children were in the care of the Immigrants Aid Society.
A number of schools had been established under the 1864 Act when on 19 February 1866 George W. Duncan was appointed Inspector of Industrial Schools (a post which seems to have comprehended responsibility for reformatory schools also). Duncan's annual reports beginning in 1867 (Parliamentary Papers 1867, Vol. 4, pp.941ff) describe the functioning of the schools and the establishment and operations of his Office which is first described as a department in the report of 23 June 1876.
Duncan was made Inspector General of Penal Establishments in 1871 and continued to administer both departments until he relinquished the Schools in 1878. The position of Inspector of Industrial and Reformatory Schools was given statutory recognition in the Neglected and Criminal Children Amendment Act 38 Vic.,No.495 1874.
Under the provisions of the Neglected and Criminal Children's Act 1864, industrial and reformatory schools were established. Children who were deemed to be neglected were to be sent to industrial schools. Children could be deemed neglected if they were found begging, without a home or means of support, residing with thieves, prostitutes or drunkards or declared to be uncontrollable by their parents. Children convicted of any offence could be sent to a reformatory school but justices had the authority to take their age and circumstances into account and to send them instead to an industrial school.
Children in both classes of institution were to be given access to general education and industrial training, and children as young as eight were expected to work for at least part of the day in activities such as domestic work, cooking, laundering, tailoring, baking, shoe making, dairying, gardening and farming. Boys on the training ship Nelson and the reformatory Sir Harry Smith were to be trained as sailors.
Royal Commissions and Inspectors General often criticised the adequacy of these arrangements and industrial schools were eventually abolished in the 1880's and replaced by a system of "boarding out" of wards to foster homes. In 1879, management of the schools was separated from the position of Inspector (see Report of 1879 et seq.) and placed in the hands of local committees. In addition, two Visiting Committees, of identical composition but charged separately for each class of school, were appointed to inspect and report (see Reports 1880 et seq.). In 1881, management of the department was vested in George Guillaume who was appointed Secretary of the Department on 4 August of that year. A separate position of Inspector continued to be filled.
In 1887 following the proclamation of the Neglected Children's Act (No.941) and the Juvenile Offenders' Act (No.951) responsibility for neglected children was assumed by a Department for Neglected Children (VA 1467) and a Department for Reformatory Schools (VA 2963) assumed responsibility for convicted juveniles. Although responsibility was statutorily separated in this manner it is evident that both departments continued to be administered jointly within the Chief Secretary's Department (VA 475).
For further information about the administration of institutions for juvenile offenders see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and VRG 93 Corrections.
Location of Records
For records relating to this agency see List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, sections 3.5.4 (Department of Industrial and Reformatory Schools) and 3.16.5 (Chief Secretary's Office). For records of individual institutions see VRG 9 Prisons and Youth Training Centres and section 13.0.0 of the List of Holdings.