Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

St Brigid’s reunion

 Coral Miller  11 November, 2010

Coral shares a photograph from her 2004 reunion at St Brigid’s Girls Home.

Coral and her sister were sent to St Brigid’s Girls Home, Ryde, NSW for five years when their mother had a break down after their father was killed in Malaya at the Parit Sulong Massacre.

Coral says, “I have some good memories and some bad ones but don’t carry any regrets only for the reason we were placed in there”.

Reunion at St Bridgd’s in Ryde
Invitation to a reunion for St Brigid’s, Ryde

12 thoughts on “St Brigid’s reunion”

  1. Thanks for posting on this . It’s very helpful to actually locate somebody to give more details…I’ll bookmark this Webpage for later on. Thanks MuCH

  2. For those who accept that some have good memories and carry little or no physical,social.spiritual and emotional damage . I salute Them . The same for our Veterans of war . Some soldiers do not carry the burden of war while others never seem to get it together and struggle to eternity with grief ,anger, frustration , and a belief that they ‘CAN ” overcome all obstacles and live a life of hope without fear .. Its those FAs that should not be “Forgotten Australians “.

  3. Hi; Lawrie Higgins,

    Re your letter 11/7/11, for those who except they have good memories.
    The difference with our war Veterans how it effects some but not others. Our soldiers are glorfied and honored, and are helped with the problems they have,- but F.As get nothing. Even these Soldiers who may have PTSD and flashbacks wondering if they did the right thing murdering children under government orders , have many problems today, but as usual the Government tone it all down and do not accept any blame for their problems.

    The same policy is happening with these F.As and the Stolen Generation . Forgotten Australians that were abused, and many were, were the victims of Government Policies at the time .Government used them for Eugenics experiments, although they would strongly deny all of this , but it happened as per their agenda.
    Eg. F.As that were sodomized, caned and slapped when in the bath, hair pulled, when vomiting your food nuns force fed the remaining food into your mouth, when children ran away prescribed medication was given to them and the brave children that were very brave that stood up to nuns/carers abuse were placed into the pitch black dungeon given bread and water telling them they were the devil, summiting unto tryannical orders with fear and trembelling where your mind would freeze then go numb and blank with the cane in their hand most times.
    The thinkers that took charge of the abusers sub sequently were deemed as naughty and rebellious and also a threat to their authority ,were placed by the government into adult mental asylums for punishment, and also to remove them from the others who may follow their examples of standing up to these abusers!

    The treatment for their defiance in standing up to their abuses was multiple electric shock treatment and tough if any died from failed shock treatment, which did happen as wittnesses have stated that not all came back from the Electric Shock Treatment Rooms . They were also drugged again after the Shock Treatment worse than zombies where rapes occured, they were tied to a bed that had no mattress put in straight jackets with no food and little water.
    It appears the strong willed thinkers that did something about the abuse copped the worse. Needless to say being in a systems of abuse I believe every F.A had psychological trauma.

    One of the problems [and there was many] in some [not all] orphanages/institutions in those days, was that one was not in a normal “Family ” environment which was also run by “Unmarried Nuns and Priests” who had no married family life experiences and the government approved criteria was obedience to orders and work with no interaction to gossip/general knowledge of life and family affairs like you have in a family environment.

    It was a systems of abuse where there was no human rights for children, as the nuns/carers were following the gov. policies of that day. Not all nuns and carers were abusive, hence some F.As didnt suffer as much as others did as we have read on this site.
    The reason why it has effected F.As so much today, is because there has been no true repentance or acknowledgement from the Church or Government from the abuse they gave or was allowing to take place and saying nothing about it at all., and no compensation at all, but lip service, “any one can say sorry its just a word”.
    Government are so silent signifies to me they believe that they did the right thing to children, and the abuse that happened to F.As and the Stolen Generation was just too bad and its all the childrens fault.

  4. Hello all, I would like it to be known that I do carry scars from that time but I tried so hard to get on with my life which was no easy task. I also want it known that I feel very deeply for all the Forgotten Australians even though our circumstances may have been some what different and I do know plenty of people who were instituted and carry many scars and probably will to the end of time through no fault of their own. some of the good memories, were marching down to St Charles school away from the orphanage which was quite a treat away from the locked up feeling of the orphanage. One of the bad things i remember was the Senna tea we were given every Saturday morning and I would wait my chance to tip it down the large trough also I hated the bamboo canes across the hands when doing something wrong which I don’t remember what. The worst part was waiting every Sunday looking to see if my mother would come to visit us, which never happened for 5 years through no fault of her own, so it was a long 5 years of Sundays waiting to see her again now as an adult i know life goes on with or with out scars and I hope for the ones who still carry these scars they will some day be able to move on. I also salute all the Forgotten Australians.


  5. Thanks Coral,
    At the National Museum, we understand and respect differences – differences in experiences and ways of resolving those experiences. So thank you again for sharing your most valuable perspective.

    Thanks again for contributing your photos of St. Brigid’s. I very much appreciate your personal courage.

    With best wishes,

  6. And if I may add, what was the deal with the emphasis on laxatives in Children’s Homes?

    There are so many accounts of different substances being given to children in Australian institutions to make them “go”.

    I mean honestly, why this obsession?

    Good on you for getting rid of the senna tea Coral!

  7. Hello Laurie, I can feel the sadness in your comments & I am so sorry you experienced such sadness in your life. I know a lot of the boys homes were like that as I also had two brothers who were also in one as well and I know the bitterness they had in their hearts & carried it to the end, sadly they both passed on at a early age. I am aware that there is a lot of sadness among a lot of the people who grew up in these homes and you all deserve a medal and recognition for what you went through. I salute all of you and hope some day you will find happiness to replace all the sadness.

    Cheers now

  8. Coral ,I know S’ t Brigids very well . I was at your annaul Fete in 1960,- 1962 as a helper I was at the school across RD.from 1958-1962 .I did see S,t brigids walk to S’t Charles while the primary kids walked to Our lady Queen of Peace in Gladesville My adopted sister went there from 1960-66. I remember the Wall around your Home . what a disgrace I canit remember any names at S,t Brigids but had a friend we use to wave at each other as we walked along opposite side of Victoria Rd . I rtemember some students names at S,t charles It seems so long ago . Fortunate or unfortunate I remmember a great deal of my 7yrs in a Home which has help others I suppose to seek out and sort their clouded memories

  9. Hello Christine, I agree with what you are saying as I have heard lots of stories about the abuse etc, some of the women I spoke to at our reunion didn’t want to talk about it as it was too bad a memory for them. I have heard the story about the girls once they turned 18 years they would be sent to Parramatta where I beleive a lot of the things you mentioned did happen. I was 7 year old when I was placed in St Brigids so I guess I was lucky in a way I never reached 18 while in there. I also know of one of the girls who is still with the Sisters of Mercy as she was too nervous to enter the outside world as she had been inside too long.
    It is about time F,A, were recognised & I agree just sorry is not enough.
    Best wishes,


  10. Thanks Adele for your comments, I often wonder myself why a young person would want these laxitives, not to mention the house maids knees endured from kneeling to polish floors etc. Maybe it was their way of cleansing one’s soul but at such a tender age I don’t think the soul would need any thing but happiness and nice memories. not forgetting the fear of the devil which was drilled into their heads.

    cheers now

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