It was through the efforts of the clergy, philanthropists, politicians and middle-class men and women engaged in good works that charitable organizations were brought into existence in South Australia. Some of the charities provided food and money, but most of them provided institutional care or asylum, a place of safety and refuge. It was the government through the Destitute Board that provided aid to the majority of South Australians in need. The government dealt with many thousands of cases each year, while non-government charities dealt in the hundreds. In many cases the government gave grants to charities to provide services, freeing the state of the obligation.
During the nineteenth century non-government charities provided for the poor and aged, children, women and the sick and disabled. The first few charities established in Adelaide were:
1849: A group of men, led by the Reverend Daniel James Draper formed the Adelaide Benevolent and Strangers’ Friend Society. It gave food and money to provide general relief in the community.
1856: Bishop Short set up the Female Refuge for ‘fallen’ women. The number of women who resided in the Refuge grew to two hundred by 1889. The Refuge continued until the 1940’s.
1860: Julia Farr and a group of ladies established the Orphan Home for children.
1868: The newly formed Sisters of St Joseph led by Mary MacKillop established a female refuge.
1886: Archdeacon Dove set up the Children’s (later Boys’) Home. However, the first charity to emerge that focused on people with a disability did not occur until the 1870’s.
The South Australian Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb
In 1865 William Townsend, politician and lay preacher, discovered that there were thirty four destitute blind people living in the State. He established a Public Committee comprising prominent citizens to raise funds to build an institution for the blind, deaf and dumb. In 1874 The South Australian Institution for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb was established. It provided a place of refuge, education and boarding facilities.
Home for Incurables
In 1878, the Home for Incurables was founded to provide care for those who had an incurable condition. By 1881 there were forty four inmates and a staff of nine.
In 1894 Estcourt House was opened to help people in need. By December there were eight children, aged between four and twelve, and twenty three visually impaired elderly people in residence.
Kalyra was opened in the early 1890’s as a sanatorium for people with tuberculosis (consumption). It was situated in the Adelaide Hills near Belair.
Minda opened in 1898 to provide a home for children with an intellectual disability. Prior to the establishment of Minda Home, children with intellectual disabilities were placed in the Parkside Lunatic Asylum.
Can do 4 kids: Townsend House. 2002. [online]. [Accessed on 30th April 2007]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://www.townsendhouse.com.au/AboutUs/History/tabid/99/Default.aspx>
Dickey, Brian 1986. Rations, residence, resources : A history of social welfare in South Australia since 1836. Netley: Wakefield Press Richards, Eric (ed.) 1986. The Flinders history of South Australia. Netley: Wakefield Press
Find your way home: with SA Link-up. 2005. [online]. [Accessed on 30th April 2007]. Available from the World Wide Web: <http://salinkup.com.au/media/pdf/9_miscellaneous.pdf>