South Australia's first policewoman Kate Cocks devoted to care of women and babies

 

The ideas of Catherine Helen Spence influenced Kate Cocks when she joined the State Children’s Council staff in 1903.

Cocks, a former schoolteacher and school matron, became South Australia’s first probation officer for juvenile first offenders. She proved, in a job that took her into the slums, that prevention was better that prosecution.

In 1915, she was appointed the state’s first female police constable. At first, she only selected one assistant: Annie Ross, a 32-year-old manager of private homes for single expectant mothers.

Cocks and Ross worked mainly in problem areas of adolescent sexuality, alcoholism and prostitution. Cocks’s insight, efficiency and kindness in dealing with needy women, especially during the Depression, became legendary. The slightly-built Cocks was denied use of a police gun but she knew ju jitsu.

Before she retired in 1935, Cocks cared for homeless girls in her house. She persuaded the Methodist Women’s Welfare Department to rent a nearby cottage for the girls.

Cocks became voluntary superintendent of the Methodist women’s welfare department until 1951.

She moved to Brighton to run a property bought by the church to look after unmarried girls, their babies and other needy babies.
At her death, Cocks left money for the church and the Methodist Home for Babies, later renamed the Kate Cocks Nursing Home.

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