• Auspice: Children's Welfare Department, sub department of the Chief Secretary's Department (1924-1960), Social Welfare Branch of the Chief Secretary's Department (1960-1971), Social Welfare Department (1971-1978), Department of Community Welfare Services (1979-1985), Community Services Victoria (1985-1992), Department of Health and Community Services (1992-1996)
  • Winlaton was a large complex with different sections.
  • Name: Winlaton (1956-91)
  • Alternative Names: Winlaton Juvenile School / Girls’ Training Centre / Girl’s Training School 1956-62 ; Winlaton Youth Training Centre 1962–91; Winlaton Reception Centre c.1957-c.61; Goonyah Remand Centre, 1957–60 (the section continued after this time as a residential unit); Winbirra Remand Centre 1960–92; Leawarra Hostel 1959–92 
  • Address: Springvale Road, Nunawading

Winlaton history in brief

In 1956, Winlaton Girls' Training Centre was established as the main state institution for adolescent girls, situated on a 20-acre property in Springvale Road, Nunawading. The land’s previous owner, philanthropist Mr Joseph Tweddle, named it Winlaton after his birthplace.

Although Winlaton was established to be a juvenile school, on the plaque commemorating the opening at the centre it was called a "Girls' Training Centre". In the Children’s Welfare Department’s annual reports for its first few years, Winlaton was referred to as a "Juvenile School", "Girls' Training Centre" and "Girl's Training School".

Before Winlaton, Catholic girls were placed at the Abbotsford and Oakleigh convents of the Good Shepherd. Protestant girls were accommodated at the Remand and Reformatory Section of the Royal Park Depot for Boys and Girls, which became Turana in 1955.

Winlaton housed female juvenile offenders detained by the courts, as well as young women who had not committed a crime.

By 1959, Winlaton had a juvenile school, a reception centre (Winbirra) and a hostel (Leawarra). Within the main secure compound, girls lived in three cottages (Warrina, Goonyah and Kooringal (Karingal), each with up to 15 girls in single rooms.

Young women stayed in Warrina for six to eight weeks to be assessed, then moved to Goonyah or Karingal depending on their needs. Warrina could house 22 girls. Karingal had capacity for 22 girls and also housed most of the wards of the state.

By 1957, Winlaton had up to 60 girls living in accommodation designed for 45 girls.

In June 1957, Goonyah became a reception centre for 20 young women aged 14 to 21 years. Both sentenced girls and wards of the state lived in Goonyah.
In 1959, the Leawarra Girls' Hostel was added as the centre's pre-release unit. It was a minimum security section located outside the main compound and operated from December 1959–92. It also accommodated wards of state as well as sentenced female trainees nearing release.

Young women in Leawarra learned independent living skills for transition to the community. Sentenced young women were housed on the north side, and wards of the state on the south side. Those in employment or outside education used Leawarra as a halfway house.

A public images mural within the Winlaton Training Centre compount, painted by staff and youg women, 1983. The mural was funded by the Vicotiran Ministry for the Arts.

Winlaton in the 1960s to 80s

From early 1960, the Winbirra building housed the reception centre, a high-security section outside but adjacent to the compound that was administered by Winlaton. It was also a remand centre for young women aged 14 to 21 who had been charged with criminal offences awaiting court, as well as those on protection orders. From the 1960s, gradual de-institutionalisation, combined with a commitment to diversion in juvenile justice, significantly reduced the numbers of young people detained.

On 1 July 1961, under the Social Welfare Act 1960, two of the divisions in the newly established Social Welfare Branch took control of the juvenile schools and reception centres. The control of reception centres came under the new Family Welfare Division and the control of juvenile schools under the new Youth Welfare Division. Under this Act the juvenile schools were renamed "Youth Training Centres", and were formally appointed as such by the Governor in Council. The renaming of the former juvenile schools was gazetted on the 9 May 1962.

Selection of Winlaton Rave magazines, c. 1976 - c. 1992

Winlaton in the 1980s and 90s

In 1985, Winlaton was redeveloped to encompass all youth and child welfare facilities. All statewide youth and child welfare facilities were redeveloped to reduce the role of central institutions. Turana and Winlaton became centres that only provided programs for young people sentenced to detention.

In 1991, Winlaton was renamed the Nunawading Youth Residential Centre and became a facility for male and female offenders aged 10 to 14 years.

In 1992, Winbirra closed and the Warrina residential section took over the remand function.

Please note:

The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 required that the provision of services for children and young people on protective orders be separated from those provided to young offenders in custody. The Act established different divisions in the Children’s Court to completely separate child protection matters from criminal custodial matters.

The Children and Young Persons Act 1989 Act also established the term ‘children in need of protection’, replacing old terms ‘ward of state’ (from the Neglected Children’s Act 1887) and ‘trainee’ (from the Social Welfare Act 1960). Children and young people involved with child protection and sentenced young people are now all classified as ‘clients’.

Young people who entered the youth justice system before the 1989 Act was implemented, kept their trainee case history files, but not the later Client Relationship Information System institutional files (JJ CRIS prefix). This explains why the older records continued until the late 1990s – well after the terminology had changed.

The term ‘client’ is still used for all care leavers in Victoria.

Warning about distressing information

This guide contains information that some people may find distressing. If you experienced abuse as a child or young person in an institution mentioned in this guide, it may be a difficult reading experience. Guides may also contain references to previous views, policies and practices that are regrettable and do not reflect the current views, policies or practices of the department or the State of Victoria. If you find this content distressing, please consult with a support person either from the Department of Health and Human Services or another agency.


Please note that the content of this administrative history is provided for general information only and does not purport to be comprehensive. The department does not guarantee the accuracy of this administrative history. For more information on the history of child welfare in Australia, see Find & ConnectExternal Link .


  • Agency history information and record series descriptions from original transfer accession documentation, 1993.
  • Winlaton Centre records finding guide, Archival Services, Department of Human Services, June 1996.
  • Guide to out-of-home care services 1940–2000: volume one – agency descriptions, compiled by James Jenkinson Consulting, North Melbourne, November 2001.
  • Children’s Welfare Department reports of the director, 1956–60.
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 188, June 12 1957, P.1963 [established a reception centre for females in Goonyah section, Winlaton]
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 188, June 12 1957, P.1964 [established a juvenile school for females in the Warrina and Kooringal sections, Winlaton]
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 47, May 9 1962, P.1569 [appointed Winbirra as a remand centre]
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. 47, May 9 1962, P.1569 [appointed Winlaton to be a youth training centre]
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. G 36, 18 September 1991, P.2614 [established Nunawading Youth Residential Centre]
  • Victorian Government gazette, no. G 36, 18 September 1991, P.2614 [abolished Winlaton remand and youth training centres; established Nunawading remand and youth training centres]

Radio Room Nunawading Youth Residential Centre (formerly Winlaton Youth Training Centre, 1993

Reviewed 24 April 2019