Former inmate of Westbrook Farm Home for Boys, Alfred Fletcher, will speak at the National Museum of Australia on Thursday 1 September 2011 at 12.30 – 1.30 pm, in the Friends Lounge.
Alfred Fletcher was sent to Westbrook Farm Home for Boys in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane, in the 1960s. He was 15 years old. He lived there for two and a half years until he succeeded in running away. He likens his time there to living in a concentration camp. He endured floggings that tore his flesh, torture and abuse. Al records his experiences at Westbrook in his book, Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home by Al Fletcher as told to Cheryl Jorgensen which was published in 2006 and re-released in 2010. After Al escaped from Westbrook he worked as a merchant seaman and horticulturalist. He married, has grown up children and now lives in a Bayside suburb of Brisbane. His story is one of many that will be included in the upcoming NMA exhibition Inside: Life in Children’s Homes. Westbrook was established in 1900 by the Queensland Government to reform boys. In 1994 there was an inquiry into the operation of Westbrook and it was closed down.
‘We were just whipped away; we didn’t know where we were going,’ says Carmel Durant, who grew up in Bidura Home, Glebe, NSW and with various foster parents. Read Glenn Ellard’s report in the South Coast Register about the chalk drawing Carmel made when she was ten years old.
Carmel’s drawing will be part of the exhibition Inside: Life in Children’s Homesand Institutions which opens on 16 November 2011 at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra.
‘People are dying and even the press is starting to report these deaths, amazing …’ writes Pat Brodnik, who shares an article from The Age about the ‘unexpected, unnatural or violent’ deaths of 200 Victorian psychiatric patients.
You can read the 1 July 2011 article, ‘200 psych patients died suddenly’, on The Age website.
by Oliver Cosgrove (guest author) on 8 August, 2011
‘We noticed that the abuses happened when the Christian Brothers were at our strongest. We were thriving in terms of vocation, power and money. The government would not dare to question us.’ Read an interview with Brother Philip Pinto, head of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, who says religious life in its traditional sense is ‘dying’.
‘No longer a number – my name is Rosie’. Rosie grew up as number 20280. Her experience as a state ward left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s now in recovery and a Remembered Australian and made a short film about her experiences.
Rosie Klohs’ film, Sins of a Child, was published on the Moving Minds page on the Mental Illness Education ACT website.
The University of Melbourne, in 2009, acknowledged its prior use of children in orphanages as human guinea-pigs in medical research. Read Tom Thompson’s recollections of men in white coats giving him injections at a Children’s Home in Parkville, VIC.
Tom, who never owned a picture of himself when he was a child, received the image below just four years ago.
I’ve two scars on my left arm from medical testing of the antigen vaccination for the seed Salk Polio vaccine, done in the late 1950’s.
I don’t know the actual dates in which the different injections were given, as I’d never been to school or known what it meant for days of the week, months or years. I do however remember the events due to the pain and distress we endured.
I vividly remember being lined up before the men in white coats who came and gave the injections which blistered and caused so much pain.
Our life in the homes was strictly regimented and having strange men in white coats was something not to be forgotten.
I spent nearly 6 years in the Victorian Children’s Aid Society home at Parkville Victoria. Just across the road from Melbourne University and the Eliza institute in the same street of Parkville. Both institutions were involved in advanced medical research at that time utilising institutionalised children as guinea pigs.
Both institutions have acknowledged their culpability in this research and publically apologised, however like Dr Joseph Mengele who experimented on children in the concentration camps and was on the wanted list for (for over 40 years) and the Nuremberg trials over his barbaric experimentation on children, he escaped capture and prosecution and lived out his life in South America.
I believe these institutions and CSL [Commonwealth Serum Laboratories] should be tried for what they’ve done. Under law there is no statue of limitations on culpable homicide. The vaccine used in the early tests was contaminated and known to cause cancer and other health problems.
Some of the original ‘seed’ polio viruses that had been originally obtained from Salk laboratories in the United States of America in 1955 and used to manufacture Australian polio vaccines tested positive to being contaminated with SV40, and yet was still manufactured and utilised by these organisations on children.
Tests in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s confirmed that SV40 was potentially carcinogenic.
I live each day not knowing when or if I will fall victim to some unknown disease.
Governments, medical institutions and health authorities all shout loudly how we should trust them, as they know best, but like Joseph Mengele, the people time and places change, but things really stay the same.
The photo is me at an age I don’t know, it was given to me by Professor John Swan 4 years ago, and was taken at the home in Parkville. The Swan family took me out of the home for weekend visits over a number of years. The photo was taken by Dr Ailsa Swan (who has since died).