Hostels were another form of residential, out-of-home accommodation available to young people in Western Australia.  At various times, and in various ways, hostels provided different functions for different groups of residents.  While the roles of the hostels changed over time, they were designed to meet two basic needs:  to accommodate young people near their place of schooling or employment; and to provide supported accommodation to children who were in need of care or respite from a difficult family or foster situation.  In 1990, for example, hostels provided three components of residential care:  educational hostels accommodated primary and secondary students from isolated areas and Indigenous communities, in regional areas; metropolitan educational hostels provided what was essentially a boarding service with educational support to Indigenous high school and tertiary students; and country emergency hostels provided crisis accommodation and short term placement support for young people in regional areas who had been placed in care by the Department.  Department for Community Services TRIM Administration File KC 006701.

At other times, hostels had been classified as either treatment and training hostels, community support hostels, or education and employment hostels.  These are described below.

Treatment and Training Hostels 

Young people admitted to these hostels were those who required “a degree of support, supervision, training or continued treatment that is not available in other boarding situations. In some cases, the family is within reach but unable to provide the necessary type or degree of contact.”  “All children living at the hostels work in the metropolitan area.” Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1973.

“The supervision or other needs of the child is considered before placement at a hostel – most children are the subject of assessment in a Departmental institution before placement in a hostel. In some cases, a boy or girl has had a period of treatment or training at a treatment institution before living at the hostel. In these latter cases, the hostel staff work co-operatively with the treatment institution staff in supervising the child’s progress, with the possibility of re-admission to the treatment institution if necessary.” “All boys or girls at a hostel have been assigned to the case-load of a field officer of this Department, sometimes also to an Honorary Probation Officer, before their assessment and admission to the hostel.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1973.

As the assessment institutions of Walcott and Bridgewater were being phased out in the 1980’s, it was envisaged that children would, where possible, be cared for in a family setting.  Where that was not appropriate, seven hostels in the metropolitan area would accommodate these young people.  Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1983.

In January 1984, Community Support Hostels supplanted the treatment and training hostels.

Community Support Hostels 

“The over riding focus” of the new Community Support Hostel system “was that of care.  Children coming into the hostels would be involved in care/welfare issues as compared to Justice concerns.”  It was noted at the time that the “understanding and acceptance of this at both practical and conceptual levels within the Department and in the general community is still to be consolidated.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1984.

By 1985, the Annual Report indicated there were seven Community Support Hostels in the Perth metropolitan area, and their individual roles and goals were “varied, complex and often quite different in nature.”  However, the “basic aim” of the Community Support Hostel system was to “identify and understand problems being experienced [by the children admitted to them], then to provide support and direction towards re-establishing routine involvement in community activities.”  At the same time, the hostel staff emphasised “behavioural stabilisation and training to increase the chances of success in activities involvement and subsequent placements.”  Within the community, Group Workers, Home School Support Staff and nursing personnel, in conjunction with Departmental field staff, proffered a similar approach from a preventive aspect – in order to “keep to a minimum the number of children needing to be admitted to Hostels.”  (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1985.)  During the 1985/86 year, this amounted to 491 children. 

By 1986, it was possible to report that admissions to the Community Support Hostels generally resulted from “drug abuse, parent/child conflict, offending, or chronic non attendance at school.”  The service aimed to “build self esteem, then, in conjunction with field services and other agencies, support children at home or in other placements.”  A Training Coordinator attached to the service facilitated “specialised training for hostel staff to ensure an efficient and effective care service.”  In 1986, the “operation and function” of the hostels were under review, with particular attention being paid to issues of “client need, services provided, management structures, and communication and co-ordination both within and outside the Department.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1986.

In 1987, it was reported that “children on arrest or remand who cannot return home” were also admitted to Community Support Hostels.  Indeed, the increase of 100 children admitted to the Community Support Hostel system in the 1987 year compared to the previous year, was due to the “number of children referred for justice reasons.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1987.

That same year, in response to an Inter-Departmental “Residential Planning Review”, which took a very broad look, from a town and regional planning perspective, at the types of accommodation that would be required by the people of Western Australia in future years, the Department described the operation of the Community Support Hostels:  “The Department’s seven Community Support Hostels are all metropolitan-based, providing accommodation at each hostel for up to 8 children, of ages 6 to 17 years.  Caregivers work rotating shifts; they do not live-in.  At least one officer is on duty at all hours with additional staff member at busy times.  Community Support Hostels provide short term accommodation for children whose behaviour and family situation is such that they are unable to remain in their usual residential setting for the present.”  Submission of the Department for Community Services to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce, March 31st 1987.

In 1988, a sense of the problems faced by children entering the Community Support Hostel system was made evident when it was reported that a “review of Community Support Hostels proposed a reorganisation of services to enhance continuity of residential and community support services.  The introduction of a Clinical Psychologist into the Programme will improve the level of support to staff who are working with substantially disturbed children.”  This was one of a number of recommendations from the review which were endorsed by the Department in November 1987.  Others included:

§         “The service will provide both accommodation and other supports.

§         Hostels will be categorised as either short term or medium term.

§         Admissions to hostels solely on the basis of the Justice process are inappropriate, and will be reduced as alternatives are developed.

§         Non-residential services will be developed to ensure a continuity of support following residence.” 

At this time, there were six hostels operating, three short- and three medium-term, and two residential support teams for educational activities and general placement, respectively.  (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1988).

In 1989, the Annual Report provide a breakdown of the reasons why children had entered community support hostels in that year, indicating that justice system-related reasons for admission were persisting, even though they had decreased from 1988 due to Longmore Remand Centre taking more of the pre-Court and remand admissions.  Indeed, notwithstanding the decreases, these comprised the majority of admissions to Community Support Hostels in 1989, around 77% in total (48% being pre-Court related and 29% being young people on remand).  Temporary placement (9%), parent-child conflict (7%) and foster placement breakdown (4%) provided the other main reasons for admission in that year.  (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1989).  

An interesting development affecting admissions policy occurred in 1990.  With a sense of bowing to the inevitable, the Department reversed its stated (1988) position that admissions to hostels for juvenile justice-related reasons were inappropriate and instituted a new policy whereby some youngsters in the pre-Court phase - “minor offenders up to 13 years of age on bail” – would be placed in either hostels or emergency foster care, a move “which avoids the need for them to be held overnight in secure centres.”  In concert with this, a new role of the Juvenile Justice Program was “operating hostels for those who have no appropriate accommodation, but have been allowed bail.”  From November 1989 to June 30th 1990, “23 very young minor offenders” were “diverted from custody under this scheme.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1990).

Community Support Hostels also provided ‘outreach’ type services, where officers worked with young people to try and prevent their re-entry into the hostel system.  In 1989/90, for example, 47 “young people experiencing severe conflict with their family/caregiver and who were likely to be placed in or return to hostel care” were given family and individual support to try and maintain their place within the family or placement.  A further 33 children “who had experienced educational difficulties” were assisted by staff attached to the Hostels “with the aim of integration back into school or a transition to training and employment.”  (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1990).

In 1991, the Annual Report indicated that 47 “young people experiencing severe conflict with their family/caregiver” were assisted by the Community Support Hostel services and an additional 54 young people “with educational difficulties were assisted with the aim of integration back into school or a transition to training and employment.”  In addition, the review of “services offered by hostels has led to an increased specialisation in programs targeting young offenders who are referred to these facilities.”

A Review of Community Support Hostels and the McCall Centre [see entry in this Directory] programs, services, roles and administration also commenced in 1991 with the aims of:

-          “Assessing the appropriateness of the programs in terms of their responsiveness to the needs of the current clientele;

-          Identifying and examining the issues and difficulties with existing programs, including gaps in service, and to make recommendations on new services which could be provided and alternate models of care which would be more appropriate for the clients serviced; and

-          Developing a suitable organisational structure tailored to the services delivered.” 

(Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1991).

By 1995, the Community Support Hostels were either McCall Hostels or Country Support Hostels.  McCall Hostels [McCall itself, Kyewong, Tudor Lodge, Darlington Lodge, see entries in this Directory] were “based on a staffing model where staff are DCD employees and live in.  There are also two support staff working on roster to back support and provide relief.  The centre tends to pick up the more behaviourally difficult children and accepts 24 hour responsibility for them.  The Centre also works with the parents.  It has three residential units and an on-campus semi-supported arrangement for older adolescents.  Social workers are employed, as well as psychologists.”  Country Support Hostels were staffed by carers who were professional staff and employees of the Department.  “These Hostels have a manager…who normally lives in, and an assistant manager…There are also Hostel assistants…and domestic support may be employed.  Staff are rostered to cover [approximately] 16 hours per day.  Carers receive a salary.”  (OHAC Cost Project, Department for Community Services, June 1995).

Education and Employment Hostels 

“These hostels were operated by or in association with the Native Welfare Department” before the establishment of the Community Welfare Department (effective 1 July 1972, when responsibility for the hostels was transferred to the new Department) and the hostels generally continued to serve their initial purpose.  Almost all of the young people resident in these hostels were of Indigenous background.  “Most hostels accommodate children who attend school or some course of training. Some are for working boys and girls and a few for other purposes. Almost half the hostels are outside the metropolitan area, enabling practise of the Department’s policy not to bring people to the metropolitan area unless their needs for employment or education cannot be met in their home districts…The gains from education or other training may thus be available not only to the individual but to the local community to which that person belongs.” Accommodation while in education or training while the main, was not the sole function of these hostels.  “The wider responsibility includes providing extended social experiences and influences and thus opportunities to develop more fully the skills and confidence required to function in Australian society.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1973.

The location of these hostels was not a matter of accident.  “In areas outside the major population centres facilities for education and employment are often limited and young people in these areas may not have the opportunity of developing to their full potential. The provision of education and employment hostels is one way in which this situation may be overcome.”  “Although the policy is to provide accommodation as close to the children’s homes as possible, the location of the hostels is largely determined by the availability of schools, technical centres and employment opportunities. Additional hostels are planned for areas where industrial and residential development has resulted in school and employment facilities becoming available.”  Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1975.

In 1991, the Department reported that the “use of the Country Educational Hostels has been rationalised as numbers of young students requiring accommodation away from home has reduced or alternative accommodation is found.  Metropolitan Student Hostels continue to operate successfully by providing Aboriginal students from remote areas with accommodation while attending tertiary education facilities.”  (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1991).

By February 1995, the Department and the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship were the only parties providing metropolitan hostel accommodation for high school students from Indigenous backgrounds.  A report about these hostels, the “Out of Home Alternative Care Cost Project” (the OHAC Cost Project), noted that “hostel parents are paid an honorarium and the Department pays for operating expenses.  However children are required to pay for food, clothing, and books…”  At this time, the hostels had capacity for up to 15 people, including 10 students and a carer and their family.  The facilities were classified either as Student Hostels, which were deemed to be a hybrid of the Group Home model of care and required House Parents to undertake a range of activities with the children in their care; or as Education Hostels which had more staff and accepted only schoolchildren.  (OHAC Cost Project, Department for Community Services, February 1995).

A more comprehensive discussion about these hostels is provided in Volume Three of this Report under the heading, “Aboriginal Hostels”.