Catherine McAuley Centre
Years of Operation1969 – ongoing as MercyCare (see history below)
Role Of FacilityHostel and family cottage accommodation and support for children 16 years and under. Short and long-term care with residential care workers. Administrative files from the Department for Community Welfare in 1984 indicate that the Catherine McAuley Centre had also offered Community Day and Occasional Care programs in addition to its long term residential out of home care services since 1971 and, in 1983, the Home Support Services pilot scheme was initiated. Cottage accommodation was available from 1977.

In 1984, the Catherine McAuley Centre offered the following services:
- Residential child care
- Satellite housing for teenagers
- Emergency and contracted care
- Community-based counselling
- After-school and vacation care
- Day care

By 1985, the residential programs were together described as “short term contracted-care of children/youth in conjunction with intensive family counselling.” (Report on the Activities of the Consultative Committee in 1984/85, Consultative Committee on Residential Child Care November 1985).

A Youth Accommodation project commenced in March 1990, as a response to the needs of the 15+ age group for increasing independence.
The first placements in the Foster Care Program also occurred in March 1990.

In 2003, Mercy Community Services (now MercyCare) was funded by the Department to provide 15 group care placements for children aged 6 to 17 years requiring long term care, and 43 foster placements for children aged 0 to 17 years. (Service Agreement with the Department for Community Development
Sponsoring AgencySisters of Mercy, now MercyCare and no longer under the administration of the Sisters
Other facilities in
Signposts that are
related to the
Sponsoring Agency
See the entry “MercyCare and Sisters of Mercy” in the earlier section of Signposts, “List of Facilities”
Address(es)18 Barrett St, Wembley
Aliases1969-89: Catherine McAuley Centre
1989-1997: Catherine McAuley Family Centre
1997-1999: Mercy Community Services
1999 – present: MercyCare
Brief HistoryService provided subsequent to St Joseph’s Orphanage [see entry] and St Vincent’s Foundling Home [see entry].

The WELSTAT (welfare statistics) Collection of 1979 notes the “Catherine McAuley Cottages 1-9” as a ‘clustered group homes’ (ie. “a family group home whose grounds adjoin those of another family group home, or other residential child care establishment, operated by the same enterprise”) that was operated by an agency other than the Department.

In 1985, the Centre administered 9 scatter cottages (with a maximum of 6 children in each) and 2 satellite houses (for a maximum of 8 teenagers in each).
By 1986, one of the scatter cottages was being used for short-term contracted care.

On July 11th 1987, the death of Sister Mary Martin occurred. Her contribution was remembered by the Consultative Committee on Residential Child Care (CCRCC) in their 1987 report to the Minister: “Sr Martin’s desire to achieve government recognition and support for the non-government child care sector involved her on many Committees and Boards. Within our Committee her astute and very direct comments were delivered with gentle humour: she kept our feet on the ground. Sr Martin’s challenge was to care and provide for children who were troubled: it is important that we uphold this challenge for the future.”

In 1987 the CCRCC mapped the developments in residential services at the type of programs that were provided for children in the care of the agency:
1. Major Developments in the Residential Models of Care
- In-service training for Cottage Parents
- Professional staff development
- Contractual care
2. Range of Programs Provided
- Education and recreation program
- Counselling and behavioural program
- Intergenerational program
- Tutoring program
(Report on the Activities of the Consultative Committee in 1986/87, Consultative Committee on Residential Child Care November 1987).

In 1989, the CCRCC reported that, following a study commissioned by the Sisters of Mercy, a new organisational structure was implemented, which saw the Centre renamed as the Catherine McAuley Family Centre, of which the Residential and Family Support Services were one component. Along with the restructure, the Centre’s Advisory Board determined to reduce the size of the residential services program to accommodate a new Community Care (foster care) program. A new Skillshare project was also undertaken.

In March 1990, the Foster Care and Youth Accommodation services commenced. In that same year, the agency also participated in the North West Regional Substitute Care Support group training, and took over temporary management of Youth Care [see entry], “a service to homeless youths”. (Report on the Activities of the Consultative Committee on Residential Child Care in 1989/90, February 1991). MercyCare advised in 2004 that the Youth Accommodation and Youth Care services became one at that time.

Departmental files report that Catherine McAuley’s residential programs in 1991 included Group Care, with 6 on-campus cottages, foster care and one house dedicated to Youth Accommodation.
Departmental files report that the Catherine McAuley Centre operated 7 residential units in 1992.

In 1994, Catherine McAuley’s Group/Foster Care Service and Youth Care Service were funded to provide “Group/Foster Care and supported community placements for families and children” and to “provide safe, secure medium/long term accommodation for youth who are homeless or at risk of being.”
“To provide an integrated (holistic) range of sensitive, flexible and responsive services to families whose children have been assessed as requiring out of home care” and “youth who are homeless or at risk of being” homeless.
Key Service Objectives:
“Through assessment, intervention and support services, to assist families clarify and resolve difficulties which may prevent them continuing to care for / have contact with their children. To do this in the process of providing placements for children in up to 24 group places; 12 foster care places; and 3 supported community places, unable to live temporarily or permanently with their families.
Assist (through limited intervention) young people and their families in preventing homelessness.
To provide, for homeless youth, medium/long term accommodation in up to: 6 group care; 4 externally supported places (girls only); and 15 independent community places
Where possible reunite children and families. For youth where not possible, support their movement to independent living. As/when appropriate, provide aftercare support to clients.”

1994 Out of Home Care funded services included:
• Medium/Long term foster care program
- Catherine McAuley Holiday Hosts
- 4 cottages for 0-18 year olds (3 cottage parent model; 1 rostered worker model) – all in Wembley
- Catherine McAuley Youth Care (internal/external support for 16-20 year olds) – two sites in Wembley.
Other services included:
- Aftercare services
- Regarding reunification, a program of admitting families into care for support and skill development.
(Out of Home, Preventative and Alternative Care Services Review, “Terms of Reference”, Family and Children’s Services, 1995).

Undergoing a review at the time of reporting, the Catherine McAuley Centre was described as being “based on the cottage model where carers are seen as parents and the female partner is paid for services in the Home. Children need to be attending school. The Centre is also looking at a model that is complemented by a staffing roster due to the types of children coming into care, and are moving into preventive work with families.” (OHAC Cost Project, Department for Community Services, June 1995).

In its service agreement with the Department in 2003, Mercy’s Placement Services accepted children in the 6 to 17 year age group. “Younger children may be accepted where they are part of a sibling group. Care is provided in a family type setting with full time carers.”
A total of three group homes were located in the metropolitan area at the Mercy Community Services Campus or in the community.
Mercy Community Services also provided 43 foster care placements for children aged 0 to 17 years requiring long term care and a reunification service for 10 families. (Service Agreement with the Department for Community Development).
A limited chronology of admissions and discharges is included in Table 8.

The three year Service Agreement with the Department for Community Development which commenced on 1 April 2006 enables Mercy Care to provide medium to long term foster care placements for 38 children in the CEO’s care aged up to 18 years.

Mercy Care closed its group residential program over a 12 month period commencing on 1 April 2006 and transitioned to an intensive foster care model (care+) for children with a range of needs. (This Program is in addition to the foster care service described above.) The transition period allowed the group residential care program to close in a way that provided a safe and appropriate transition of children to foster care or independent living. Mercy Care provides intensive supported foster care placements (care+) for 20 children and young people in the CEO’s care between the ages of six and 15 years, with a priority for children aged eight to 12 years requiring medium to long term care, who have complex needs, including those who are at significant educational risk and require intervention services to meet those needs.

Mercy Care provides a reunification servce for 10 families. The Department and Mercy Care jointly assess which children and young people and their families will be provided a reunification service and the goal of reunification is determined by the care plan.
RecordsAdmission registers are available for 1868-1928.
Case records post-1979.
Maintenance registers 1901-1948 and 1958-1972
Committal warrants to 1951
Baptism Certificates to 1972 (those for the 1950’s are missing)
Social security payments records 1960’s (those for the 1970’s are missing)
Ailments register 1915
Former child migrants can also access information held on the Personal History Index (PHIND).
Departmental case records for young people placed by the Child Welfare Department or its successor agencies may reside with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support.
AccessWhile access to records is restricted to protect the privacy of individuals, people are encouraged to enquire.
Contact DetailsMercyCare Heritage & Information Service
PO Box 202, Wembley WA 6913
Telephone: (08) 9442 3444

Freedom of Information
Department for Child Protection and Family Support
PO Box 6334, East Perth WA 6892
Telephone: (08) 9222 2555
Facsimile: (08) 9222 2776
Country free call: 1800 000 277