Provider: Tasmanian Government
Year Opened: 1958
Year Closed: 1976
Tresca was officially opened as a Home for child migrants by the Governor, Sir Ronald Cross, in March 1958. The first five boys were already in residence. They had arrived before preparations at Tresca were complete and stayed on the estate at Beaufront, Ross, for two weeks. The owner, Sir Donald von Bibra, was a leading member of the Fairbridge Society and the Big Brother Movement.
The Fairbridge Society had established Tresca because the flow of child migrants to Australia had begun to slow. The parent following scheme, by which the child or children came first and the parent, usually a single mother, arrived later, was a way of increasing their numbers. Tresca was the only institution in Tasmania to be formed solely for child migrants.
Tresca was run by a British couple, Harry and Lily Richmond. The couple maintained Reed’s tradition of using Tresca as a meeting place for local groups and the first Carols by Candlelight in Exeter was held on the verandah. In her article about child migration to Tasmania, Laura Williams writes that the home had a ‘bright, cheerful colour scheme’. Some local people apparently thought that the surroundings were too good for children they considered to be ‘delinquent’.
In 1959, when the Commonwealth government decided that the children should be handed over to their parents as soon as they arrived, a dispute occurred. The Society wanted to decide when to release the children. In May, it refused to return children to two mothers. The government eventually agreed to a contractual agreement whereby the children remained in the home for three months after their parents’ arrival. Parents could also make a verbal agreement for another 18 to 24 months.
In 1960, the British Home Office decided that the parent following scheme could only continue if the parents and children travelled to Australia together. The separation would take place after they arrived. The Australian legislation did not deal with this situation. This meant that the Fairbridge Society was not answerable to the government, a particular problem because of their reluctance to release children. They appear to have relaxed over this issue in the mid 1960s. The first family arrived in 1961. Most children arriving after that came with their parents.
Historians of child migration mostly agree that the last child arrived in Australia in 1967. However, Tresca accepted five unaccompanied children in 1970. It closed in 1976, the same year that the Commonwealth government decided to phase out the assisted passage which most of the parents used. A total of 67 children went to Tresca, 13 of them unaccompanied. The rest migrated with their parents or were reunited with them under the parent following scheme.
CLAN Museum Gallery
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CLAN library books where this Home is mentioned include:
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