|Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency|
In 1956, Winlaton Girls' Training Centre was established as the main state institution for adolescent girls, situated on a 20-acre property at 186 Springvale Road, Nunawading. The land's previous owner, philanthropist Mr Joseph Tweddle, named it Winlaton after his birthplace. In 1991, Winlaton was renamed the Nunawading Youth Residential Centre (VA 5214).
Winlaton was established under the Children's Welfare Act 1954, that abolished the Department for Reformatory Schools, Chief Secretary's Department (VA 2963),and transferred the responsibility for juvenile offenders and reformatory schools (from 1954 known as juvenile schools), to the Children's Welfare Department.
Although Winlaton was established to be a juvenile school, on the plaque commemorating the opening at the centre it was called a "Girls' Training Centre". In the Children's Welfare Department's annual reports for its first few years, Winlaton was referred to as a "Juvenile School", "Girls' Training Centre" and "Girl's Training School".
Before Winlaton, Catholic girls were placed at the Abbotsford and Oakleigh convents of the Good Shepherd. Protestant girls were accommodated at the Remand and Reformatory Section of the Royal Park Depot for Boys and Girls, which became Turana in 1955.
Winlaton housed female juvenile offenders detained by the courts, as well as young women who had not committed a crime.
In 1956, the Social Welfare Department set out the objectives of Winlaton in its annual report:
'Winlaton's objectives are, broadly, to teach a girl:- (i) How to live as a well-adjusted, self-reliant member of the community; (ii) a craft or skill; (iii) how to use her leisure hours; (iv) to know and care for herself and, indeed, to care for others later on as a home-maker.'
Girls were accommodated in five cottages/residential sections at Winlaton, each housing the girls in single rooms. The cottages were known as 'Warrina', 'Kooringal' and 'Goonyah', in addition to Leawarra Hostel and Winbirra Remand Centre. The function of each section was:
Warrina section -
Was used as an assessment centre. When they were admitted to Winlation, girls were housed on this section for 6-8 weeks while it was determined whether Goonyah or Karingal was the most suitable place for them to reside for the remainder of their sentence. It could house 22 girls was located within the compound.
Karingal section -
Was used as a residence for younger and more tractable gilrs. It could house 22 girls and was located within the compound.
Goonyah section -
Was used as a residence for older and more difficult girls. It could house 20 girls and was located within the compound.
Leawarra Hostel -
Was a low security pre-release unit. Its function was to enable girls to learn living and coping skills in order to make a successful transition to the community. It also had a self-contained flat where girls were able to practice living in such an environment. Girls residing at the hostel were able to attend local schools and have outside employment. Leawarra had 17 bedrooms and was located outside the main compound.
Winbirra Remand Centre -
Was a high security remand centre for 14-21 year old girls who were awaiting court apperances after being charged with offences or placed on a protection or uncontrollable application. Occasionally, it was also used to house wards on short-term placements, when it was felt inappropriate to place them with the other residents. The Social Welfare Act 1970 allows for the placement of young people requiring protection with young people charged or found guilty of offences in remand centres.
The Social Welfare Department described the system at Winlaton in 1956: 'Promotion is made from one cottage to another. Conversely, of course, demotion occurs sometimes'.
By 1957, Winlaton had up to 60 girls living in accommodation designed for 45 girls.
By 1959, Winlaton had a juvenile school, a reception centre (Winbirra) and a hostel (Leawarra). Within the main secure compound, girls lived in three cottages (Warrina, Goonyah and Kooringal (Karingal), each with up to 15 girls in single rooms.
Young women stayed in Warrina for six to eight weeks to be assessed, then moved to Goonyah or Karingal depending on their needs. Warrina could house 22 girls. Karingal had capacity for 22 girls and also housed most of the wards of the state.
In June 1957, Goonyah became a reception centre for 20 young women aged 14 to 21 years. Both sentenced girls and wards of the state lived in Goonyah.
In 1959, the Leawarra Girls' Hostel was added as the centre's pre-release unit. It was a minimum security section located outside the main compound and operated from December 1959-92. It also accommodated wards of state as well as sentenced female trainees nearing release.
Young women in Leawarra learned independent living skills for transition to the community. Sentenced young women were housed on the north side, and wards of the state on the south side. Those in employment or outside education used Leawarra as a halfway house.
Winlaton in the 1960s to 70s:
From early 1960, the Winbirra building housed the reception centre, a high-security section outside but adjacent to the compound that was administered by Winlaton. It was also a remand centre for young women aged 14 to 21 who had been charged with criminal offences awaiting court, as well as those on protection orders. From the 1960s, gradual de-institutionalisation, combined with a commitment to diversion in juvenile justice, significantly reduced the numbers of young people detained.
On 1 July 1961, under the Social Welfare Act 1960, two of the divisions in the newly established Social Welfare Branch took control of the juvenile schools and reception centres. The control of reception centres came under the new Family Welfare Division and the control of juvenile schools under the new Youth Welfare Division. Under this Act the juvenile schools were renamed "Youth Training Centres", and were formally appointed as such by the Governor in Council. The renaming of the former juvenile schools was gazetted on the 9 May 1962.
The Winlaton Youth Training Centre for girls (aged 14-21 years) had a population of about 100 in the mid-1970s, which reduced to about 70 in the mid-1980s.
Winlaton in the 1980s and 90s:
In 1985, Winlaton was redeveloped to encompass all youth and child welfare facilities. All statewide youth and child welfare facilities were redeveloped to reduce the role of central institutions. Turana, Winlaton and Malmsbury now operated solely as youth training centres for young people sentenced to detention.
In 1991, under the Children and Young Persons Act 1989, Winlaton was renamed the Nunawading Youth Residential Centre, and became a facility for 10-14 year old male and female offenders.
Legislation and record keeping:
The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 required that the provision of services for children and young people on protective orders be separated from those provided to young offenders in custody. The Act established different divisions in the Children's Court to completely separate child protection matters from criminal custodial matters.
The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 Act also established the term 'children in need of protection', replacing old terms 'ward of state' (from the Neglected Children's Act 1887) and 'trainee' (from the Social Welfare Act 1960). Children and young people involved with child protection and sentenced young people are now all classified as 'clients'.
Young people who entered the youth justice system before the 1989 Act was implemented, kept their trainee case history files, but not the later Client Relationship Information System institutional files (JJ CRIS prefix). This explains why the older records continued until the late 1990s - well after the terminology had changed.
Winlaton Youth Training Centre was abolished on 17 September 1991, by the Governor in Council under section 249 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1989.
The term 'client' is still used for all care leavers in Victoria.
- Nunawading Youth Residential Centre (VA 5214) is the subsequent agency, situated on the same site at 186 Springvale Road, Nunawading.
- Nunawading Youth Residential Centre, Education Centre No.4794 (VA 3962) represents the education function of Winlaton/Nunawading.