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Orphanages by A. E. Herman

To meet a situation that called loudly for attention the Rockhampton Benevolent Society rented a house in 1867, six years after it was formed, to accommodate orphans and destitute children, and two years later established a temporary orphanage.

It was impracticable to continue the orphanage and after the admission of a number of children to the Brisbane institution the temporary orphanage was discontinued.

Mr. and Mrs. F. Hopkins then started a Children’s Home and orphans were accommodated there at a cost of 6/- (60c) each per week, but this place did not meet the difficulty and correspondence was opened with the Government.  This resulted in a grant of 10 acres (4 hectares) of land in 1870 and £1,000 ($2,000) for an orphanage on one of the spurs of the Athelstane Range.  Later a wing was added and as many as 53 children were maintained.  The greater number of orphans were children of parents unable to support them.

The first lady superintendent was Mrs. E. Barker who had varied and extensive experience, having sailed 10 times between England and Australia in charge of immigrants and been connected with the Ambulance Department of the Crimea.  When operating before Sebastopol, Dr. Harricks was the first visiting medical officer.

Children old enough were sent to school and the younger ones were instructed by Miss Hindeorandt .  Boys and girls were sent out to situations.

The Benevolent Society maintained a constant interest until the State took complete control.

A boarding out system was commenced in 1888.  It was first tried out on a limited scale and hired out children were placed in good homes.

The State Orphanage Act of 1911 repealed the Orphanage Act of 1879, under which the orphanages, including the Rockhampton Orphanage, became a receiving depot for Protestant children.

The old orphanage was then dismantled and a new building erected in 1912. What was known as the nursery was, however, retained and still stands near the depot.

The first matron of the receiving home was Miss Holmes , who had 10 years experience at the Diamantina Orphanage.  Matron E. Walsh occupied the position for over 19 years.  Matron Newman who was on the staff for 25 years, including some years as matron, preceded her.


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