An Autobiography HTML version

staff of The Sydney Morning Herald. When Miss Clark went to England in 1877, after
her mother`s death, Dr. Garran wrote to me for some account of our methods. and of their
success, physical, moral, and financial. Dr. Garran came out with Mr. G. F. Angas and
the Australian Constitution in 1851 in search of health and work, both of which he found
here. The first pages of my four volumes of newspaper cuttings are filled with two long
articles, "The Children of the State," and this started the movement in New South Wales,
led by Mrs. Garran, nee Sabine, and Mrs. Jefferis wife of the leading Congregational
minister, moved from Adelaide to Sydney. Professor Henry Pearson asked me a year or
two later to give similar information to The Melbourne Age. Subsequently I wrote on this
subject, by request, to Queensland, New Zealand, and I think also Tasmania, where we
were imitated first, but where there are still to be found children of the State in
institutions. In Victoria and New South Wales a vigorous policy emptied these buildings,
which were used for other public purposes, and the children were dispersed. The
innovation which at first was scouted as utopian, next suspected as leading to neglect, or
even unkindness--for people would only take these children for what they could make out
of them--was found to be so beneficial that nobody in Australia would like to return to
the barrack home or the barrack school. If the inspection had been from the first merely
official, public opinion would have been suspicious and sceptical, but when ladies saw
the children in these homes, and watched how the dull faces brightened, and the languid
limbs became alert after a few weeks of ordinary life--when the cheeks became rosier,
and the eyes had new light in them; when they saw that the foster parents took pride in
their progress at school, and made them handy about the house, as they could never be at
an institution, where everything is done at the sound of a bell or the stroke of a clock--
these ladies testified to what they knew, and the public believed in them. In other
English-speaking countries boarding-out in families is sometimes permitted; but here,
under the Southern Cross, it is the law of the land that children shall not be brought up in
institutions, but in homes: that the child whose parent is the State shall have as good
schooling as the child who has parents and guardians; that every child shall have, not the
discipline of routine and redtape, but free and cheerful environment of ordinary life,
preferably in the country--going to school with other young fellow citizens, going to
church with the family in which he is placed, having the ordinary ditties, the ordinary
difficulties, the ordinary pleasures of common life; but guarded from injustice, neglect,
and cruelty by effective and kindly supervision. This movement, originated in South
Australia, and with all its far-reaching developments and expansions, is due to the
initiative of one woman of whom the State is justly proud--Miss Caroline Emily Clark.
Even while we were only a Boarding-out Committee, it was found necessary to have one
paid inspector; but there was great dissatisfaction with the Boys' Reformatory which had
been located in an old leaky hulk, where the boys could learn neither seamanship nor
anything else--and with some other details of the management of the destitute poor, and a
commission with the Chief Justice as Chairman, was appointed to make enquiries and
suggest reforms. The result was the separation of the young from the old absolutely; and
a new body, the State Children's Council, of 12 men and women of nearly equal
proportions, had authority over the reformatories, as well as what was called the
industrial school, which was to be reduced to a mere receiving home, and all the children
placed out, either on subsidy or at service. Most of the old committee were appointed;