documents, Forgotten Australians

Schwarten Inquiry into Westbrook

‘The Superintendent said, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice”  and banged boy 90’s head several times against the tin wall’. Read the full 1961 report of the Inquiry into Westbrook Farm Home for Boys by Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr AE Schwarten.

The report was conducted after an ‘incident which occurred on Sunday, 14th May, 1961, at the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook, in which approximately 36 inmates of the said Home were involved and number of whom escaped’.

The report was provided to the National Museum of Australia by Al Fletcher, author of Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home by Al Fletcher as told to Cheryl Jorgensen. The report has since been published online by the Queensland Government.

Download a copy of the 79-page Westbrook Farm Home for Boys Inquiry Report (PDF 6.92MB)

Two boys seen through bars across a window at Westbrook Boys Home

2 thoughts on “Schwarten Inquiry into Westbrook”

  1. Being an ex inmate of Westbrook, and giving evidence at the Forde inquiry. The struggle for justice has been slow and bittersweet. All I can say is “I was there” and the memories have never faded. I am a writer and work with indigenous people in Central Australia, I have five beautiful children and a wife who also works as a school teacher in remote communities.
    A part of me remains in Westbrook; I wish I could bring that young Norman home. The photograph on your page make my stomach clench and I want to get up and run away.

  2. I am so sorry, Norman, if the photo triggers such a strong, physical reaction.

    It’s hard – I don’t want to re-traumatise survivors but I also want others to know about this chapter of Australia’s history.

    Please accept my sincere congratulations and respect for your triumphant life.

    Of course, for those survivors who understandably struggle, my respect for you is no less.

    Thanks Norman for letting us know that not only are you alive and well but also of your rich contributions in Central Australia. Wow!

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