Meekatharra Education and Employment Hostels
Years of Operation1980 to the present
The Darlot Street Hostel was transferred to the Aboriginal Lands Trust in the 1986/87 year.
Role Of FacilityResidential child care for Indigenous school children in a hostel setting. At commencement, services were provided to high-school aged girls, but the second stage of the hostel program accommodated boys as well.
Sponsoring AgencyDepartmental - predessor to the current Department for Child Protection.
Address(es)Darlot Street and Consols Street, Meekatharra.
By 1995, the facility in operation was known as the Consul Street Cottage and was situated on the corner of Douglas Street and Consul Road, Meekatharra.
The address in 2002 was Consul Road, Meekatharra.
(Meekatharra is situated approximately 760 kilometres north east of Perth.)
AliasesDarlot Street Hostel, Consols Street Hostel, Consul Street Cottage, Consuls Road Hostel.
Brief HistoryEducation and employment hostels 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.

“1980 has also seen the arrival in Meekatharra of a transportable 12 bed hostel to cater for Aboriginal secondary school students. The hostel is presently being prepared to accept children by the beginning of the third term this year and is viewed by staff as an invaluable placement for children from surrounding districts particularly Wiluna.” “This will provide accommodation for ten high school aged aboriginal children who [at present]…have to live in Perth or Geraldton if they wish to have a secondary education” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1980).

The hostel was opened by the then Minister for Community Welfare, Mr WRB (Bill) Hassell in February 1981, and commenced providing services for ten “high school aged girls from the Wiluna region.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, 1981).

In 1982, responsibility for the country hostels transferred to the Field Services section of the Department. The Meekatharra Hostel was administered by the Pilbara Division. A “second cottage built for hostel purposes” was erected during the year and “placed on a separate site”, allowing the students in residence “to live in a community setting. High school aged children from the Wiluna area will have the opportunity to utilize both hostels rather than travel to Perth for their education.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1982).

“The second stage of the Meekatharra Hostel commenced operation at the beginning of the 1983 school year with another hostel facility being available for boys, mainly from the Wiluna area, to give them opportunity to obtain secondary education whilst still having close contact with their home and families.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Welfare, June 30th 1983).

By 1986, one of the hostels provided emergency child care services, “especially for pre-school children.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1986).

In the 1986/87 year, ownership of the Darlot Street Hostel at Meekatharra was formally transferred from the Department to the Aboriginal Lands Trust “for use by local Aboriginal groups.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1987).

During 1987, the “practices of accepting only senior students, and staffing hostels with Aboriginal staff were introduced” and “eight of the twelve country hostels [were] now managed by Aboriginal personnel.” (Annual Report of the Department for Community Services, June 30th 1987).

“Aboriginal students from remote country areas may have the opportunity to obtain primary or secondary education at metropolitan or regional schools. This enables them to obtain a level of education not otherwise available. Some of these students board out at aboriginal educational hostels. They live as close to their own communities as practical, and return to their community at the end of term. Care in aboriginal educational hostels is provided by couples who live-in fulltime. Country facilities have live-in wages staff.” (Submission of the Department for Community Services to the Residential Planning Review Taskforce, March 31st 1987).

By 1995, it was reported that the Meekatharra Hostel was no longer an education and employment hostel and had “become more closely aligned with the care and protection programme area. These hostels provide short to medium term accommodation primarily for children for whom fostering is not an immediate option.” The hostel was described at this time as “a ten bed cottage facility on a domestic block. Family type accommodation is provided with a live in carer. The building is a purpose built transportable and presents reasonably although there are some structural defects apparent as a consequence of mining activity. The hostel operates on a short/medium term accommodation basis, servicing Meekatharra and surrounding communities….The hostel provides a respite care service for a number of severely disabled Aboriginal children requiring specialist support as well as crisis accommodation as a consequence of protection and care assessments.” There were 178 admissions (mostly in the 0-6 age group, but ranging up to 18+ years, with 5 admissions involving non-Aboriginal young people) in the 1993/94 year, and the hostel had a 15 seater bus. When the hostel’s budget was reviewed, it was found to be too small to allow for the replacement of bedding, furnishings and other consumables, such as school materials or play equipment. (OHAC Cost Project, Department for Community Services, June 1995).
RecordsDepartmental records for children placed by the Department may exist.
Additionally, the Department's Aboriginal Index and the guide, “Looking West”, should be consulted for information.
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