Friday, 22 February 2008

Victorian Domestic Architecture: Myee/Wilga built 1893. Myee Babies' Home

220 Forest Road.
Like Dappeto (next entry), this house played a role in the institutional care of children made wards of the state through the 20th century. Subsequent government enquiries have painted a chequered view of the motivations and legacies of such policies.

Brick and stucco. Built in 1893 by John Horatio Clayton, Mayor of Rockdale from 1895 to 1898. Transition in Victorian architecture from rendered brick to use of face brick. Clayton was a solicitor, and founder of law firm Clayton Utz & Co.

Originally called Myee. I discovered that at one stage Myee was a home for Wards of The State, babies who were in "care" for various reasons, and known as . Myee Babies Home - National Library pictures. This was in the era when it was policy to remove children from their parents for various reasons. Children could be classed as state wards on various grounds including any variation on 'being uncontrollable', 'neglected' or 'in moral danger'. In other words, children were often declared 'uncontrollable', 'neglected' or 'exposed to moral danger' and deemed to be wards of the state, not because they had done anything wrong, but because the circumstances in which they found themselves resulted in them being status offenders and often they were institutionalised. In the case of babies, it was often because the mother was unmarried. Other reasons wer eparents' deaths or divorce, parents unable to care for children, economic stress, social disadvantage, Aboriginality.

In 2004, the Australian Senate Community Affairs Committee published a report called Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children. Included in it was this testimony in Chapter 3 - Why Children Were In Homes:

Single parents (usually mother)

3.40 The Committee received stories from people about how they came to be placed in care because of lack of support for their mothers. This occurred mainly in times when government or other financial support to unmarried mothers was clearly lacking and when being a mother out of marriage carried a stigma, which for many women, would have been too much to endure:

My story begins on 6 September 1932 when I was born to an unmarried 19 year old. My mother had no support from her family, so when I was born at Crown Street Women's Hospital, I stayed there till I was one month old. I was then taken to Myee Children's Home at Arncliffe and made a State Ward...I remained at Myee till I was 18 months old and was then fostered by the Newman family of Campsie. (Sub 179)

Above: Myee Babies' Home, National Library of Australia, 1971

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I too was at Myee in 1956 where i was made a ward of the state and adopted at the age of 18 mths.I would like to access my records, name was Warren Ward and adopted by the Heyes family wentworthville Sydney.