findingrecords.dhhs.vic.gov.au

Turana (1955–93)

Summary

  • Auspices: Children's Welfare Department (1924–60), Social Welfare Branch (1960–71), Social Welfare Department (1971–78), Department of Community Welfare Services (1979–85), Community Services Victoria (1985–92), Department of Health and Community Services (1992–96)
  • Title or Name: Turana Reception Centre 1955-68 - became Baltara in 1968; Turana Juvenile School – located in Poplar House (1957-1962); Turana Youth Training Centre 1962-93; Turana Remand Centre 1961-93
  • Address: Royal Park, Parkville 3052

Turana history in brief

Until the mid-1950s, Turana was the only establishment directly managed by the Victorian Government. Previously, the site was the Royal Park Industrial School and later the Boys’ and Girls’ Depots, Royal Park.

In 1955, it was renamed Turana, the Aboriginal word for ‘rainbow’, and established as a Reception Centre and Children’s Home for both boys and girls.

Until the mid-1980s, Turana held state wards as well as offenders in custody. Annually, more than 3000 children and young people were held at Turana.

Turana accommodated boys and girls of all ages, from a few days old to 18 or 19 years. In 1955, the facility held a weekly average of 204 children, and was considered overcrowded at the time. Turana was highly-structured with rostered staff and clear procedures to receive, assess, house and monitor children 24 hours a day.

It was a challenge to find other suitable placements for children, particularly babies and pre-school children, children in family groups, school-age boys with behavioural issues, and children with disabilities or complex needs.


Bits of My Life - A Turana Book Drawings Poems and Stories from Turana Y.T.C

In 1956, Winlaton opened and girls aged 14 years and older left Turana, which from then on became a centre exclusively for males. By 1957, Turana had 14 separate sections and a capacity of 265. Overcrowding continued, and it was not unusual for Turana to have more than 300 children and young people at a time.

Turana in the 1960s

Until 1960, Turana housed 64 boys aged 10 to 14 years in the Family Welfare Division's Reception Centre (Billabong) and Classifaction Centre (Parkside). In 1961, the Allambie Reception Centre opened and the children under 14 years were transferred from Turana to Allambie.

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.

In 1965, a new Classification Centre separated younger boys (14 to 16 years) from young men (17 to 20 years). In October 1968, the Baltara Reception Centre was established adjacent to Turana. It was situated on the same campus but operated as a separate entity.

Both Baltara Youth Reception Centre and Turana Youth Training Centre still accommodated wards of the state as well as young people remanded or sentenced for criminal matters.

Turana in the 1970s and ‘80s

The Turana Youth Training Centre’s program and services grew during the 1970s.

By 1979:

  • Turana's three security sections (remand, assessment and classification) held about 100 boys.
  • The training centre’s three secure, open sections held 80 to 100 boys.

Following introduction of community-based alternatives, Turana’s high numbers dramatically declined.

In 1985, all statewide youth and child welfare facilities were redeveloped to reduce the role of central institutions. Turana and Winlaton became centres that only provided programs for young people sentenced to detention. 

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.

As a result, young people under state guardianship were no longer accommodated at Turana.

Turana in the final years

In the early 1990s, Turana was structured around five separate sections – Remand, Class A secure classification, Coolibah medium-security, Quamby open section, and Poplar House maximum security.

  • Remand had capacity for 15 boys 15–17 years awaiting court appearances.
  • Class A, the adult facility, accommodated young men 17–21 years (adult trainees).
  • Coolibah (medium security) held trainees in the final phase of their sentences. 
  • Quamby (open) held adolescents in a less-restricted environment heading for release.
  • Poplar House (maximum security) held offenders.

Victoria operated a unique ‘dual-track system’. Some young men aged 17 years or over received prison sentences, depending on the severity of their offences or their likelihood of benefiting from serving in a youth training centre.

In late 1993, Turana Youth Training Centre closed and the young people were transferred to the newly constructed Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre (MJJC) complex with four 15-bed accommodation units, a program and recreation facility, and a reception area within a secure perimeter.

The MJJC was fully operational by April 1994.

Please note:

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 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. 

The term ‘client’ is still used for all care leavers in Victoria.

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria.  If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.

Disclaimer

Please note that the content of this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history. See Find & Connect  for more detail on the history of child welfare in Australia.

Sources

  • Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre Records Disposal Project: finding aid, Archival Services, Department of Human Services, July 1997 [reference to agency history of Turana Youth Training Centre as part of the same campus].
  • Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting North Melbourne, November 2001.
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 188, June 12, 1957, p. 1964 [established a Juvenile School in Poplar House, Turana].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 188, June 12, 1957 p. 1964 [established a Children’s Home in Turana].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 188, June 12, 1957 p. 1964 [established a Reception Centre in Turana].
  • Social Welfare Act 1960 (no. 6651) [Section 10 provided for appointment of youth training centres and remand centres and came into operation 1 July 1961].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 56, July 12, 1961, p. 2411 [appointed Turana to be a Remand Centre].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 47, May 9, 1962, pp. 1568–69 [appointed as a Youth Training Centre].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 47, May 9, 1962, p. 1569 [Parkside section appointed as a Remand Centre].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 13, February 27, 1963 [appointed Turana to be a Youth Training Centre].
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 13, February 27, 1963 [appointed Turana to be a Remand Centre].
  • Victorian Government gazette, G 22, 2 June 1994, pp.1377–78 [abolished Turana Youth Training Centre and Turana Remand Centre].

Reviewed 24 April 2019