The Box Hill Boys’ Home was established by the Salvation Army in 1913. The Home first accommodated 45 younger boys, but in later years it housed a wider range of ages of boys in different ‘sections’. The Home closed in 1984.
The Box Hill Boys’ Home was located at 310 Elgar Road, Box Hill. It opened officially on 29 May 1913. Initially named the Howard Home for Boys (after the then Chief of Staff, Commissioner Howard) the Home at Box Hill was established after a fire destroyed a building at the Salvation Army’s Boys’ Home at Bayswater, earlier in 1913.
Until 1913, all boys in the ‘care’ of the Salvation Army lived at Bayswater. The Box Hill Boys’ Home was for younger boys, and originally accommodated around 45. By the late 1920s, there was 150 boys at Box Hill, with plans for further expansion.
The Salvation Army established the Box Hill Boys’ Home in a two-storey building ‘in one of the highest points of that highly elevated and desired suburb’.
The first boys at Box Hill were transferred from the Home at Bayswater. In the Salvation Army’s publication, the War Cry it was reported that the intention was for younger boys to live at Box Hill. As the boys grew older, they could be ‘drafted’ to Bayswater, ‘where they could have the necessary farming experience before going out into the world to do for themselves’.
The ceremony to open the Box Hill Home was held on 29 May 1913. The first couple to be in charge of the Home were Captain and Mrs Parkes.
At the opening ceremony, Mrs Commissioner Hay made a speech, and urged those present to turn their hearts towards the boys in the Howard Home: ‘May many of them be able in days to come to look back and say, “Yes, it was in that Home that I got converted, and my whole life was put right”.’
In 1928, new premises within the Home, the Edward Wilson Trust Home, were opened by the Governor, Lord Somers. By this time, the Home occupied an area of more than 20 acres, on ‘one of the highest sites in the district’. The Argus reported that around 150 boys lived at the Home in 1928, and the new buildings would accommodate another 80.
In January 1929, Lieutenant A.S. Arnott wrote to the Edward Wilson Trust to thank them for their contributions towards the Wilson ‘cottage’, describing the new building as ‘the last word in boys’ homes’.
In later years, as the Salvation Army’s network of children’s homes grew, some children came to Box Hill after time at Kardinia Children’s Home in Geelong, which was for ‘toddlers’ between the age of 2 and 5. This was the experience of Steve Templeman, who wrote in his submission to the ‘Forgotten Australians’ Inquiry:
When I was old enough I was sent to the Salvation Army Boys Home located at 310 Elgar Road Box Hill Victoria, there I was placed in a section of the home with boys around my age till I progressed into other sections as I grew older. My brother was in another section of the home with older boys, and I didn’t see much of him till I became old enough to be placed in the same section.
The Box Hill Boys’ Home, and residents’ experiences of trauma and abuse there, was mentioned in nine submissions to the Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care.
Box Hill Boys’ Home was investigated by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Case Study 33: The Salvation Army children’s Homes, Australia Southern Territory.
In his opening statement to the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Uncle Jack Charles spoke about his removal from his family and placement in the Box Hill Boys Home, where he spent ages 2-14. He stated that he experienced “cruel and callous punishments”, was not told of his Aboriginality and was expected to assimilate into the system.
Salvation Army Boys' Home
The Howard Home for Boys
1913 - 1984
The Box Hill Boys' Home was located at 310 Elgar Road, Box Hill, Victoria (Building Still standing)