Life in Magill Youth Training Centre
The recently demolished Magill Youth Training Centre is the last of a series of youth prisons at Magill. While the Magill Training Centre site is now to be redeveloped as a new housing estate, memories of its role as a juvenile detention centre will be around for a long time. Conditions in youth prisons continue to improve, but this place had a hundred year history.
A reformatory for boys was established at Magill in 1869, but in 1880 boys were transferred to a hulk moored at Largs Bay before returning to Magill in 1891. From 1898 the Reformatory became a home for Protestant boys only
. Catholic boys were sent to St John the Baptist Home for Boys in Brooklyn Park.
Even back in the 1930's there was a feeling that the reformatory was not effective in improving boys' behaviour, and it was referred to as an institution for bad boys to make others bad
. The buildings were said to be outdated, there was "undesirable mixing" between older and younger boys, staff were untrained and supervision was "more like that of a prison".
The Mullighan Inquiry report revealed that in 1945 the Reformatory Superintendent's biggest worry is keeping track of the boys who are inclined to sexual perversion, which for some reason seems to be more in evidence now
. In the 1950's boys continued to be transferred from the Magill Industrial School to the Magill Reformatory for subnormal sexual misconduct
After operating for nearly 100 years the Magill Reformatory was demolished in 1967, and the McNally Training Centre built to replace it.
St John's Boys Town
While never a part of the Magill Youth Training Centre, parts of the Catholic Church ran a Boys' Home at Brooklyn Park where Catholic boys were sent rather than to the Magill Reformatory.
Originally a Catholic Reformatory called St John the Baptist Home in 1898, it later became the St John's Boys Town
orphanage until 1953. After becoming the boarding section of Salesian School, the school finally closed in 1996 as Salesian College. It operated for a while as a youth hostel, then the former Boys Town was sold earlier this year.
A more detailed history of Boys Town can be found here
McNally Training Centre Onwards
The McNally Training Centre was built in 1967 to house 164 boys aged from 15-18 who had either committed offences, were on remand, or required assessment. It was divided into six units, each with up to 16 residents. Three units provided shorter term accommodation for residents on remand and in short term secure care, while the other three housed boys committed for a period of treatment. There was also a maximum security unit for disturbed boys.
While punishment was not as harsh as at the earlier reformatory, conditions were still extremely strict. Daily routine was highly regimented and absconders received particularly savage punishment, which you can read about here
The Mullighan Inquiry
report detailed allegations from nine people that they were sexually abused at McNally Training Centre by either staff or other detainees.
In 1960 youths from McNally
helped to re-model the Lake Woorabinda
hostel and campsite at Stirling for the Department for Community Welfare.
SA Youth Training Centre
In 1979 the McNally Training Centre was renamed SA Youth Training Centre, continuing as a secure care centre for up to 90 youths in five units. By 1983 corporal punishment was prohibited again at the centre, although children over 15 could be strip searched and placed in detention for up to eight hours.
In 1986 some renovations were made to the interior of the SA Youth Training Centre buildings to provide more privacy for residents, and by 1990 an outside pergola and outdoor living area had been provided. Despite this improvement in comfort reports have surfaced that residents were sexually abused here.
Magill Youth Training Centre
From 1993 the facility was renamed the Magill Training Centre, but increasingly concern was voiced about its suitability. The lack of privacy when taking a shower, and the use of "cages"
to access the recreation area were significant complaints.
After an appeal
to Australia's youth representative to the United Nations about poor conditions, the centre was closed in 2012.
A new Adelaide Youth Training Centre at Cavan was opened the same year, and is still in use today for juvenile detention. .
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