art, Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

Remember Them, Those Poor Souls

by Sue Treweek (guest author) on 10 June, 2010

Sue Treweek was a resident of Abbortsford Convent from 1968 – 1970. At the age of 11, she was sent to Warilda, in Brisbane. She was also a resident of the Bush Children’s Home in 1973 and Nudgee Orphanage from 1978 – 1979, both in Queensland.

For the simple act of rocking herself to sleep, the nuns sent Sue, at the age of 12, to Lowson House, a mental health ward at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Even though the psychiatric assessment stated that she was not mentally ill, no children’s homes would take her and so she was admitted to Wilson Youth Hospital. She was then transferred to Osler House, from 1980- 1988, the maximum security ward for adult female psychiatric patients at Wolston Park Hospital. A feature-length documentary film is current being made about her life: Scab Girl Asylum.

Sue has founded No-Problem Cleaning Services which provides:

  • family lifestyle coaching
  • yard clean- up and rubbish removal
  • specialised cleaning services
  • cooking and nutrition training
  • child care/supervision
  • office cleaning

Here are Sue’s poems; Remember Them, Those Poor Souls, Out of the Ashes, A Child Cries, Jesus Loves the Little Children, People of the Cloth and Those of Faith Stand Up.


Remember them, those poor souls

Today I sit and wonder what became of them, those poor souls I left behind.
A deep sadness fills my soul.

Their bodies racked by illnesses confusing to some.

Their pain can’t be seen only heard through their cries for help.

The uncertainty to what is real; a deep fear dismissed, no logic found by those in charge.
Still these people feel the pain no rest for them those poor souls.

An act of ignorance papers are signed another poor soul loses their rights.

Abused and dehumanized in the name of therapy their worst fears are realized.

Not knowing any different they settle in to a life of pain and uncertainty no mercy for them those poor souls.

Awake again the daily ritual begins, the turn of a key their here again, who this shift, will they be cruel or kind, showered and dressed wait to eat pills to take before you eat.

The drugs take hold the voices are silent for awhile, reality strikes as for a brief moment they remember what once was their life as the memories flood in, tears well in their eyes as they wonder what is happening  to them, and for those who have never known different they wonder why were born not right.

Cruel words spoken sink to their soul those they trust hardest of all, told they are  unacceptable till they can bear it no more succumb to the pain you know you must, sent away from societies eyes, stay away you must.

Their silent screams for understanding and acceptance fall on deaf ears only those innocents that watch their suffering yet have no power, hear their screams and remember them.
In dreams and on the wind they hear and understand those poor souls and will never forget.

The turn of a key they’re back again what today when will death come for me.

For some death does come like an angel in the night, swept away on the wings of an angel they feel no more pain.

Accepted now for who they are at peace within no fear, the confusion is gone.

Shame on those trusted to care, forget them not, those poor souls.


Out of the ashes

Out of the ashes we walk alone charred from the flames of a childhood
Spent in care,

Still we live luckier than some, are we.

In shock we wander through life wondering what could have been, had we been dealt a different hand.

Each day a challenge just to stay,  still we stand alone,

The beginning of new, for some bring life to our world, a child to love maybe a spouse
Feelings of joy replaced by pain, the battle begins, learn the mistakes of those who had the
power, don’t repeat, or the next generation will walk alone from out of the ashes they to will

Packaged now, for justice and change, not with out more pain to come for those who speak out,
we watch as one by one our generations fade no justice found; finally, now they listen to those
who walked alone.

United we stand, now our voice is strong and clear, grouped together for effect and support,
some sink deep from the weight of their past others wander in shock yet again, a few move on
and realize their dreams.

The fight renewed society screams out in anger as more with power are exposed, fear have some
who carry their guilt, with the knowledge they failed their duty of care.

To the top they walk together, on common ground that binds them all.
Their voice is loud, all can hear; people with position back them in their fight.

In disbelief they watch society and government react with guilt and remorse
Promises made that have no truth, reports and recommendations gather dust.

Too late for some the changes come rest in peace with the knowledge your fight is over. For those
left behind the fight continues till no other will suffer as they did and history will show that those
who had the courage tasted victory and realized their dreams.

 A child cries;

A child of 13 sits waiting to be judged, two sisters of god sit either side.
A woman in white flanked by two men, approach the child, and lead her to hell.
The lift rises from floor to floor the sound of screams shoots fear to her core.

A child cries.

A woman screams for help no one listens the child listens and wants to help.
A naked woman sees the child looking through the small holes into the cell.
Help me child tell someone. The child tells but no mercy to be found for her.
A woman yells as her delusions take hold you child you are the one,
my children are dead, you the devils child you must be punished.
Punched in the head as another patient act’s out her delusions, many more to come, weakest are you.
Confusion sets in. 

A child cries.

A woman quenches her thirst; cup of urine in her hand, down it goes no thought of what.
She turns on the child and it starts again more abuse, no escape to be found,
she can’t help it she’s sick is the reply.
The child protests and is punished, labelled, drugged and isolated now she knows she is in hell.

 A child cries

Another day passes in hell assessed and processed yet again no illnesses found.
Frustration by all at no illness found labels are many. The child is confused,
words slice deep into the child as her soul dies, fear is overcome by rage.

A child cries

This child learns fast the hell she is in.
Punished for differences that make her stand out told she must change she wonders into what.
Caught again banging her head no harm has she done, remove her pillow see if she stops
Taunted and teased by staff, who must make this child conform it is their job.

A child cries

The child fights to change without knowing into what.
Hides her head banging by rocking side to side with care not to be caught.
Not acceptable was this, manipulative is she
Punished again for inappropriate behaviour and dress, back in the cell.

 A child cries

 Another Dr out of bed another needle in her leg, Striped naked and left in this cold dark cell,
Drugs take hold to cold to sleep, sat on the floor back to the wall,
rocking front to back the only comfort to be found,
prayed for sleep my only friend or death, either will do.
Awake again in this cold dark hell as the child fights her body’s pain.
Fear of death, her screams are now ignored by those who care.
Her pleas to be let out are dismissed as attention seeking, don’t listen or it could reinforce,
teach her a lesson, more time for her in that cold hard hell.
Pain shoots through her body as she holds in the wee, mustn’t have an accident no toilet to use.
A puddle in the corner sometimes more to be punished for, shame, shame on you, you dirty girl.
Judgement is made out of ignorance and frustration, trapped in hell.

A child cries as her childhood dies.

Jesus loves the little children

 A child sits cold and terrified by those charged to care
No thought of the future the child will conform
Break its spirit destroy its faith make it take the pain
It cries for mercy none to be found

 Abused and left in that cold hard cell, their guilt is hidden deep in their souls
Mistakes are many the child waits, and rebels the pain enforced
By those charged to care, in the depths of hell the child remembers the song once heard which comforted her before.

 A deep breath the pain subdued, as the child remembers the words through her drugged state,
they tell her to shut up and stop those words she struggles to stand as they knock her down again,
still she sings that song from deep inside her soul, the words strike hard the consciences of them all,
in their sleep they can’t escape, these words haunt them and always will as they remember the child they continued to abuse in that cold dark hell

Her only weapon the verse of a song called Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white, all are precious in his sight.

 Fury spurred by their guilt, they attack the child no thought for her,
Shut her up she must not sing, this song is an attack we must, stop, how dare she sing this song.

 The despair is relieved by the words she sings, her pain is comforted by the one she can’t see, but sing his name, louder now for all to hear
She gathers strength from the words she sings, with the knowledge she is loved by one who cares.

 With her faith she takes it all, sometimes wondering if she will finally die and meet her friend, the one who stood by her side through all the pain and suffering, he was there,
He sacrificed his life to save our souls, now he stands beside this child,
She feels his presence in that cell, fear subsides, she is not alone.
Til the next wave of pain in the name of therapy and discipline, is enforced upon the child, til
she can take no more, again Jesus stands by her side and shares her pain.

 The lord watches the struggle, as the child fights to hold on to her faith,
The lord steps in and takes her soul, wraps it in his arms protect it he can, what’s left will survive or join her soul.
Grown now is the child, survived the past her soul intact, an act of mercy from the lord he saved her soul, only now she sees the truth and knows she must never forget.
The love of the lord out lives it all.

What’s left of shattered dreams

 As a child we dream of years to come with innocence and a sense we can.
An astronaut will I be, a doctor, nurse, teacher, I’ll climb the highest mountains.
Or a general in charge of a war
Or a ballerina a great dancer or maybe a mother that cares

 All to soon we learn we can’t, as our dreams are stripped from us one by one,
Left with what could have been if dealt a different lot.
Trying to dream the child has forgotten how,
What a shame is what we hear, that child could have been.

 The ones who lived there dreams are now the ones who destroy,
Feeding on the child as does the ravenous beast to its prey,
As dignity and innocence are replaced by fear and humility,
The child learns from those told to care, how worthless they truly are
As they endure the horrors dealt out to them their soul shudders at more to come and their dreams turn into nightmares relived day after day
No harm done the child will forget, we will rehabilitate it

As they rehabilitate what they cannot see and fear to be to be true.
More dreams die, till soon the child fears to dream and is lost,
As those who have the power wonder why.

The child grows and wonders what could have been.
Now an adult their dreams are new but tainted by the child within.
They dream of simple things now, like getting through one more day.

Nothing soothes there soul as they prey for death their only friend.
Some did not give in, they still struggle to dream, only now there dreams are of a better life, a life of peace and fullness they have never known,
They refuse to give in fighting for their lives they believe they can.
To their graves they take there dreams some never knowing how close they came.

 Forgotten by those who stole their dreams, passed of as a mistake made so many years before by those told to care
No remorse for the devastation caused.


Care for those unfortunate kids, sent to you with no place to call home
Treat them well for judgment day will come for you all
The lord watches on as you do your best to uphold his word
Remember well he sees it all

 As he watches the evil take hold of his people as they hide behind his name, they turn away from him and act out their evil on those defenseless souls,
Not a thought for judgment day.

 The children sent to his house, betrayed and abused they stand in line,
Jesus came he loves them all his sacrifice was for them,

 The lord his son by his side, watches as more souls are damaged by his people.
They are turned by evil yet preach his name
They use his name to justify their evil, first to the children then their peers,
All listen to them powerful are they.

The lord is saddened by the pain of his children, he watches and remembers them.
Those who came to him for sanctuary, now turn away thinking he has forgotten them
They can not see the sadness in his soul.

 He sends a message only headed by some, those of the cloth fear me now for your judgment day will come, no mercy will I have, on those who abused my children from
behind the cloth.

 People of the cloth chosen by him, to care for the children, our future cloth,
Those, whose faith is strong, separate the lord from the evil ones,
They stand by their faith to the end and the lord welcomes them
His arms open, they are home.

One by one the evil ones draw close to their end.
The lord waits with his son by his side, to pass judgment on them

 As the day draws closer panic sets in, no more can they hide behind the cloth
The time has come for those of the cloth, to answer for their sins.

 Brutal is the lord on those of the cloth, they betrayed him from within.


Unite as one within his sight.

Send a message to all who have faith to join as one, unite your souls to right the wrongs and embrace a future free of shattered children.

Welcome home his lost souls those who suffered a childhood shattered by those of twisted faith.
Only then can future generations of our faith be freed from those who betrayed the lord from within, cleanse his house renew the faith and trust lost by so many.

Heal the wounds of past injustices embrace the children past present and future, make a difference their will be no more evil within his house , gather strength from those who suffered in his house for only they hold the key and know the way, it is within they must see.

Remain united till the end the lord will see and join the fight together we will rejoice cleansing the cancer which threatens our faith.
The sky will open the earth renewed from his tears of joy
Remember well the lord sees it all.

6 thoughts on “Remember Them, Those Poor Souls”

  1. I have listened and later read the transcript of your story as told to ABC Radio National’s ‘All in the mind’ program, Up the Line to Goodna: stories from inside the asylum. I commend it to other readers of this blog. It can be heard or read via this link https//

  2. Thankyou for sharing , im recently released from jail and sober for the first time that i can remember. I always just thought i was born broken , i could never understand why i felt uncomfortable hugging , being alone with people , so i just drank and drank. I remember praying trying to cut a deal with god i was seven. I wasnt aware that what happened to me would affect my life , until now. Thankyou for your courage……I hope life is good to you….

    Micheal ( ward of the state 1979-1992)

  3. Hi; Kate,

    I am so glad that F.As had the strenght to reveal the torture they went through whilst being in adult mental asylums as adolescent children where the mentally crinimally insane were housed. The government stuffed up big time putting them in extreme moral danger by placing F.As into those asylums.
    M.P Karen Struthers stated to Journlist Jason Tin from The Courier Mail 25/3/09 page 24, For many, these placements were not on the basis of a diagnosis of underlying psychiatrisc illness, but as a form of punishment for misbehaviour.
    F.As that were in Goodna Mental Asylum were sexually interfied whilst unconcience from the drugs, placed in straight jackets, tied to a bed that had no mattress for days with no food and little water, given multipal electric shock treatment under duress or were threatened to have electric shock treatment.

    One F.A ran away from Goodna Asylum and when they caught her they locked her in a room for 2 weeks for male staff to have access to as that was her punishment, she was told at that time that if she escaped again that there was a lot of suicides in the Bremier River, she believed them as she thought if you can lock her up with the crinimally insane, they could do exactally as they pleased.
    She wittnessed the horror of seeing people being strapped down for shock treatment and seeing them come out of the room when it was done. Whilst writing what she wittnessed, tears were rolling from her eyes as the pure horror of what these people went through. She said it was one of the cruelist things that she had ever wittnessed. The patients would fight the staff and come and hide behind other people such as herself, and beg her to help and protect them.
    There was nothing she could do and they would be dragged away by staff and they would be begging and pleading staff not to do this to them. When they came out of the rooms after Shock Treatment they would be left lying on the beds and this is when she saw male staff interferring and doing sexual things to some of the patients while they were unconscious.

    Sometimes for days and even weeks those patients who had shock treatment would walk arround in a daze with strange eyes, like they couldnt focus, and also loss of memory. They were forever asking others what their names were and where they were and they were very skiddish as hiding behind other patients so as not to be noticed by staff and if staff came towards some it was like they were frozen with fear. Everyone dreaded shock treatment but some staff loved it.

    F.As placed into Goodna Mental Asylum
    1. To short for their age
    2. Bed wetters
    3. Absconders from orphanages
    4. Adolescent rebellion [ to nuns/carers tryannical authority and in a systems of abuse]
    5. Bad behaviour [ standing up to abuse , abscondering , steeling lollies]

    Its a wonder F.As that stole food from school rubbish bins because they were so hungry that they werent sent to mental asylums.

  4. when i wrote the poems above, i was still struggling to articulate what had been our fate, i wanted the world to know, we were not mad and bad children, i was never a criminal or rebeliouse, i wanted to survive the abuse i had suffered my whole life as a state ward accross 3 states, variouse institutions/foster care and the evil of my own mother.
    i wanted to join the army, then they started drugging me because i was a nervouse kid who rocked herself to sleep couldnt stand being touched or beaten i just couldnt take anymore. i became rebeliouse after the druggs and isolation cellks in the childrens homes, my rebelion was begging them not to lock me in those cells and not to hurt me anymore, that was my crime.
    10 years in hell the post i read above and thank yoiu christine, you are a champion for us and i know those poor souls will never be forgotten.
    what sadened me and ripped the wind out of my sils was the kevin rudd when delivering the nations apology excluded the kids sent to adult mental health and also the thousands of disabled children who without us do not have a voice, on behalf of the nation kevin rudd showed we are a dirty secret worthless as we were when sent to hell.
    while i was in goodna many disabled children some barely 11 years old were locked up with the criminaly insane the abuse i witnessed and endured was nothing less than a gross crime against humanity.
    In Queensland 2009 we recieved an apology from the state government which i am told hangs in parliment house now.
    the 1999 Forde inquiry refused to hear our evidence as we were in adult institutions it didnt matter that we were state wards under the care and protection of the state we were outcasts even to other FA groups who used the horrors of our history when it suited them but at the end of the day even they turned thier backs on us turning us away as unworthy.
    The Queensland redress scheme as we were not under the references of forde, again our evidence denied ( we didnt suffer enough ) in recent years our numbers have dwindled due to suicide and natural causes.
    there is no mention of redress or compensation, the government knows if ever we managed to get past the statute of time or barriers created to barr us from justice, every one of us has an unbeatable case against the government, yet we will never see justice, not even the scraps off the table of redress, because we are the nations dirty secret, WELL WAKE UP AUSTRALIA we who suffered and those who care such as christine above will never let our people be forgotten or the crimes committed against thousands of children under the name of therapy and treatment in such institutions as goodna ( wolston park hospital ). in the senate report children as young as 6 were sent to these hells and some were never released unless in a body bag.
    my poetry above speaks from the heart, the poem that is not there is one of humanity, i recently wrote after attending a job with an elderly man liveing in filth at risk of homelessness he was laying in his own excrement, i treated him with dignity and respect makeing sure his home was safe and healthy, This man was an abuser i remembered him as one of the psychiatrists who tortured us, he knew who i was and named the institutions includeing goodna. as i stood before him in his hr of need i remembered his crimes and the pain i suffer to this day. i remembered begging him for mercy now 30yrs later i had to decide do i treat him as he treated us or do i show we are and alway have been more human than those who tortured us.
    i chose humanity and made sure he recieved the best of care.
    that night for the first time in a long time dr “””” slept in a clean bed the piles of magots and rotting food were gone. afterwoods i fell in a heap crying and full of anger, my next emotion was empathy and sadness for someone once so powerfull the stroke of his pen was enough to have a child inflicted with horrific pain treatments that tortured the mind and soul i know of 2 who committed cuiside they were barely 15yrs old rather than return to his care and that of his peers. i know i must sound insane or stupid for showing and feeling hunanity towards him, i am not a product of his abuse i am a human being.
    as a child into adult hood even the most basic human rights were denied us they took everything our dignity our minds and bodys they humiliated us and when that wasnt enough they stole our babys created by them.
    What they couldnt take was my faith and my humanity how that man was cared for in his hour of need proves we are and always have been stronger than those who harmed us we have more courage than they will ever know.

  5. Dear Sue,
    I cannot even begin to understand your profound humanity in caring for your persecutor.

    Your selfless work, as well as the courage of those who have shared their painful history, challenges any of us “Outsiders” who fail to see Forgotten Australians as anything less than our nation’s teachers.

    Thank you Sue for your powerful lesson.

    On a governmental bureaucratic note, the observations that you and Christine Waite have made, remind us of the importance of ensuring that the terms of reference for any official inquiry are broad enough so as include all relevant experiences.

    Thanks again and best wishes,

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