Tasmania received 93,000 British convicts in its first 50 years following settlement in 1803. Against this background the problems of orphaned, abandoned, neglected and destitute children emerged. In May 1869 the Hon Alfred Kennerley purchased three acres of land in Hamilton St West Hobart for the purpose of building a home for boys. There was strong public concern for the number of children who did not have food, shelter or family support at the time. It was also the intent of the Industrial Schools Act 1869 to considered ways to address the problems of childcare. The first admission to the Kennerley Boys’ Home was on 7 th April 1869 .
‘Kennerley’ commenced as a large institution caring for boys who had been dislocated from their families, providing them with a trade and with life skills while under care. In 1969 the old West Hobart institution was sold and 4 large 6-bedroom cottages were purpose built to house boys and girls in need of long-term care. The inclusion of girls at this stage meant that brothers and sisters could be kept together, this brought about the change of name to Kennerley Children’s Homes Inc. http://kennerleykids.org.au/history/
Institutions, even those relying on subsidies, remain opaque in this period. The sole documented case of cruelty to an institutionalised state child occurred in 1923, when 12-year-old Raymond Doust ran down the hill from Kennerley Boys’ Home to tell the North Hobart Police Constable of his ill-treatment. The Constable, his wife and the
police doctor all agreed the boy was exhausted and terrified, with severe bruising, welts and broken skin, which the adults believed had been caused by ‘unmerciful’ caning.
Raymond was very thin, clad only in a pair of ‘scrim pants’ and sick from gastro-enteritis, and admitted he had run away with another boy three weeks earlier, and had been caught after eating bad mussels from the River Derwent. Raymond said the Superintendent had beaten him as he lay in bed. The Police Inspector prepared to lay
charges against the Superintendent, but the Department and Kennerley closed ranks.
The Department sent the boy to Government Medical Officers who happened to sit on Kennerley’s board. They declared that Raymond bruised easily and had not been ‘unduly’ treated. The police were obliged to drop the case.
Kennerley Boys Home 1962