McDonald House
Years of OperationEstablished in 1955 at Leederville, moving to Mt Lawley in 1963.
Role Of FacilityHostel for boys from Hillston [see entry].
Sponsoring AgencyAt various times, the Native Welfare Department, the Child Welfare Department, the Anglican Church (initially through the South West Anglican Mission then through the Anglican Board of Social Services), the Methodist Church, Riverbank, and the Wesley Central Mission managed or owned McDonald House.
Other facilities in
Signposts that are
related to the
Sponsoring Agency
See the entries “Anglican Church” and “Uniting Church” in the earlier section of Signposts, “Non-Government Agencies and their Subsidiary Institutions”
Address(es)1955-1963: 11 Carr Street, Leederville.
1963 forward: 11 Vale Rd, Mt Lawley.
Brief HistoryIn 1950, “McDonald House, after considerable administrative wrangling, [was] handed over to…the Anglican Church…Policy…changed from accommodating students to accommodating working boys.” The ‘administrative wrangling’ referred to issues around the South West Anglican Mission not being an incorporated body. It later dissolved and “management passed to the Anglican Board of Social Services.” Wilson and Robinson (1971) Aboriginal Hostels in Perth: A Comparative Survey.
In 1955, McDonald House was a home for Aboriginal boys associated with the Methodist Church’s activities on the Hillston site in Stoneville. The Native Welfare Department assumed control of McDonald House in 1958 and the Anglican Church ran it for them.

By 1971, McDonald House was one of a number of education and employment hostels which were operated by or in association with the Native Welfare Department mostly from the mid to late 1960s and early 1970s but came under the administration of the Community Welfare Department from 1972. For notes on a general history of these facilities, see the section on Hostels at the beginning of Signposts.

In 1971, 8-10 apprentices and workers were resident under subsidy from the Department of Native Welfare. Wilson and Robinson (1971) Aboriginal Hostels in Perth: A Comparative Survey

Possibly, there was some change in the function of McDonald House from when it was first mentioned in Departmental reports in the mid-1950’s to when it gained prominence again in the mid-1970’s as an once again providing support for boys from Hillston. It is possible, though the reports are unclear, that some of the intervening period had seen the early tie with Stoneville (Hillston) lapse. However, by the 1970s the links, if they had been severed, were re-established: “Considerable difficulty has been experienced in the past in placing boys from [Hillston] who, because of their inadequacies, are unacceptable and unable to function in normal living or boarding situations. Consequently there has been a necessity for them to remain at the institution for extended periods which has tended to make them overdependant on institution living. Similarly, because of Hillston’s relative isolation in regard to location of metropolitan agencies problems have been encountered in regard to boys regular attendance at community clinics or training centres which could possibly be beneficial to them. However McDonald House located in Mount Lawley is currently being extablished (sic) to cater for these needs and will provide a further most valuable adjunct to Hillston in providing for special training and social development in a community setting.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 30th June 1975).

This link was emphasised again in 1976: “The early opening of McDonald House in the metropolitan area will provide a further valuable acquisition to Hillston and provide for treatment in a community setting for socially inadequate boys unable to function in ordinary living situations. Previously such cases have, by necessity, spent extended periods within the institution which has only served to develop dependency on institutional living and make their process of adjustment to society increasingly difficult.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 30th June 1976).

The boys at McDonald House “are required to attend special clinics, schools, training centres or to work…Residents are prepared for the time when they can return home or to alternative board. Emphasis is given to social development.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 30th June 1976).

McDonald House was reported as having been “successful in establishing appropriate work habits, personal self care behaviours and developing social competence.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 30th June 1978)

“McDonald House is also administered by Hillston and like Darlington Cottage, functions as a ‘half-way house’. Located in Mount Lawley, it provides accommodation for up to ten boys. The boys are encouraged to develop habits appropriate to work or school, and are assisted to improve social competence before rejoining their family or proceeding to independent living.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1980).

The progress of each boy at McDonald House was “closely monitored and reviewed on a weekly basis.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1982).

In 1984, McDonald House was administered by Riverbank [see entry] – and acted as an Annexe to that facility following the closure of Hillston in September 1983. McDonald House and the Victoria Park Annexe together provided residential after-care services for boys from Riverbank. Between them, 84 admissions involving 56 boys occurred, and 43 work placements were obtained. During the 1983/84 year, though, McDonald House was closed for some months due to repair and renovation work. During the time it was open, the facility’s daily bed rate was four boys (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1984).

This arrangement ceased in 1985 and Wesley Central Mission proposed re-opening it as a SAAP unit (that is, a service of supported accommodation assistance to young people).

In addition to the entries mentioned above, the Anglican Church and Methodist Church have their own entries in Signposts, and these should be consulted as they give more information about the approach taken.
RecordsIt is unknown whether records are still in existence.
While the Department of Native Welfare placed some children in other placements may have been arranged privately.
Departmental records for children or young people placed by the Department or the Children’s Court may exist.
Departmental records for children placed by the Department of Community Welfare or the Department of Native Welfare may exist. Of particular interest, if able to be located, are the Department of Native Welfare “Resident Details Information Sheet (1) Hostel and Private Board Placement ” and “Resident Details Information Sheet (2) Hostel and Private Board Placement”.
Additionally, the Department for Child Protection’s Aboriginal Index and the guide, “Looking West”, should be consulted for information.
Departmental case records for young people placed in Anglican programs by the Child Welfare Department may reside with the Department for Child Protection.
Departmental case records for young people placed in Uniting Church programs by the Child Welfare Department may reside with the Department for Child Protection.
AccessWhile access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals, people are encouraged to enquire.
Contact DetailsFreedom of Information
Department of Communities
Locked Bag 5000, Fremantle WA 6959
Telephone: (08) 6217 6888
Country free call: 1800 176 888

Anglicare Records:
Fostering Futures Manager, Anglicare WA
GPO Box C138, Perth WA 6839
Telephone: (08) 9325 7033


The Director, Swanleigh
58 Yule Avenue, Middle Swan 6056
Telephone: (08) 9374 5600
Facsimile: (08) 9374 5699

Uniting Church Records:
Synod of Western Australia
UCA Archives Research Centre
1st Floor 10 Pier Street, Perth WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 9221 6911
Facsimile: (08) 9221 6863