Kinchela Boys' Home on the mid-north coast of New South Wales, was established by the state's Aborigines Protection Board for Aboriginal boys and youths in 1924 and closed in 1970. By the 1930s the place had become known as a notorious carceral, poorly managed and psychologically isolated. An overdue government enquiry in 1940 concluded that it was not fulfilling its 'requirements' as a place of training and had many 'shortcomings'. Reform and reconstruction were in the air, but did not occur until after the Second World War. The reshaping of post-war Kinchela involved a vigorous sports and physical education programme for inmates as well as agricultural training. This article explores the development of a sporting culture and ethos at Kinchela in the 1950s and how it gained a local and state-wide reputation. Some of its inmates became 'sporting stars'. Consideration is given to the relationships with local outside sporting bodies and community organisations, particularly in surf life-saving, boxing, athletics and rugby league. The approach developed was a version of the Rousseauian myth of child rescue that had been dominant in the western world since the well-known mid-nineteenth century French experiment at Mettray, the Agricultural College for Delinquent Boys.
Journal of Educational Administration and History Vol. 38, Issue 3, p. 237-248