Forgotten Australians, memories, photography, photos

Silence, Suffering, Strength

by Helen Harms (guest author) on 8 November, 2011

Helen Harms writes about her experiences and shares photographs from her childhood in Nazareth House, Wynumm, Queensland. Continue reading “Silence, Suffering, Strength”

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

St Vincent’s Westmead #2

by Graham Evans (guest author) on 23 September, 2011

Graham Evans shares a photograph of the St Vincent’s choir in 1962. Graham is standing at the far left of the front row. Graham’s role in the choir was lead singer (ensuring that all the boys stayed in tune) and drummer.

Photograph of boys in uniform with band in the foreground

articles/lectures, documents, Forgotten Australians, photos

‘Their natural heritage’

by karolina on 23 September, 2011

‘Where the little inmates are permitted to grow up natural and normal human beings.’  Inside assistant curator Karolina Kilian came across this 1933 Australian Women’s Weekly article about the Church of England Homes for Children.

‘Where children receive their natural heritage’, The Australian Women’s Weekly, 2 September 1933, p. 25

We’ve transcribed the article so that it’s easier to read:

Gone are the days when institutions for children were like dull morgues, when discipline amounted to tyranny, and all suggestion of love or affection was killed at birth.

The children’s homes of today are pleasant, cheerful places, where the little inmates are permitted to grow up natural and normal human beings.

The Church of England Homes for Children are typical of the changed order.  Visit any of the institutions controlled by this committee and you will find conditions that many children under parental roofs might envy.

Hundreds of girls and boys who have passed through these homes are now occupying good positions throughout the Commonwealth.

It is a delight to attend one of the gatherings at the home and meet young men and women who are so proud of their early association with the homes as are men and women who boast of their association with noted schools of learning.

There is a group of these homes at Carlingford (for boys and for girls), a girls’ home at Leura, and the Havilah Home, Wahroonga, for young children.

The homes all have the advantage of being set in beautiful grounds, of having fresh milk and home-grown vegetables.

Built on the crest of a rise at Wahroonga, in a setting of spacious lawns, orange groves, and shrubbery, Havilah Home cares for 80 children between the ages of two and seven years.

Girls on reaching the age of seven are transferred to Carlingford, which takes girls from the age of seven to twelve, to remain there, of course, until the time when they are able to earn their own living or suitable care is guaranteed for them. This home has accommodation for 150 girls, and this is not sufficient.  Applications are refused every day, and there is a long waiting list.  An even larger demand is made on the boys’ homes.

The other girls’ home is at ‘Quipolli’, Leura, where there is accommodation for 28, from the age of seven to the time when they are fitted to face the world alone.

Domestic science, cookery, dressmaking, laundry, hospital training, and lace-making are among the crafts taught the girls. Lace-making is a special feature, and overseas visitors have compared it with advantage to that done by the women of France and Belgium. Quite a number of girls have their own gardens, for which prizes are awarded.

The Boys’ Home at Carlingford stands in 45 acres of grazing property. The boys receive tuition in carpentring, boot-repairing, house and farm work. In every way they are taught to develop a spirit of self-reliance, wholesome living, and usefulness. They attend the public school at Carlingford, belong to the Boy Scouts, and have a fine choir. On June 3 of this year a large workshop was presented by Mr F.E. Penfold.

History of the homes commences in 1863, at Woolloomooloo, when initial efforts were made to help destitute women and children by the late Canon T.B. Tress and the Rev. J.N. Manning, two Anglican gentleman whose names are commemorated in the Tress-Manning Home at Glebe Point, Mrs J.N. Manning, who is now 83 years of age, as a senior member of the executive committee, still attends the meetings.

From Woolloomooloo a move was made to Paddington, and further expansion necessitated a transfer to Darlinghurst, and in 1894 a group of girls’ homes at Glebe Point was established. The first homes were established at Carlingford in 1929.

No mention of the Church of England Homes for Children would be complete without reference to the late Matron McGarvey, whose love, understanding, and wisdom were of such great influence in the condust of the institution.

Miss McGarvey was matron of the homes for 35 years.  It was largely owing to her efforts that the Carlingord Home for Girls was established. As Glebe Point developed more and more into an industrial area, she longed for a country environment for the children.  She saw her ambition realised, and was at the Carlingford Home for a while before her retirement in February, 1930.

Miss McGarvey died in December of the same year.

Where children receive their natural heritage – The Australian Women’s Weekly, 2 September 1933 (PDF 241.9kb)

You can also access the article and The Australian Women’s Weekly through the National Library of Australia’s TROVE search service for digitised newspapers, magazines, photographs and more.

articles/lectures, events, Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Exhibition a reminder of forgotten past

Sally Pryor, from The Canberra Times, reported on last week’s talk by Alfred Fletcher, author of Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home by Al Fletcher as told to Cheryl Jorgensen, at the National Museum of Australia.

[2020 note] You could previously access this article on The Canberra Times website.

Child Migrants, photos

Ann’s story

by Ann McVeigh (guest author) on 2 August, 2011

‘My identity was stolen from me’. Child Migrant Ann McVeigh shares her personal history and photographs of St Joseph’s Orphanage, Subiaco (now Wembley), WA.

As a child migrant my identity was stolen from me the moment I left my home land, without my mother’s consent. The name that I was born with was changed when I was put into Nazareth House in Belfast. I came to Australia on the [SS] Asturias when I was 5 years old in 1950.

On arrival in Western Australia I was sent to St Vincent’s Foundling Home in Wembley till I turned ‘a big girl’ 6 years of age. When one turns 6 one is sent to St. Joseph’s Orphanage which was next to St Vincent’s. Once placed there I still had my name changed and the date of my birth was changed also. Right away we were given numbers to answer to, put onto our clothes and lockers, my number being number one. Straight away you were expected to work always rising at 6 am every day for prayers and Mass. Duties being – sweeping yards, cleaning toilets, washing and polishing floors in the dormitories, classrooms and long corridors on hands and knees. Children were put in charge of children to be cared for in nurseries, kindergarten and foundling home. Laundry had to be done for private boarding schools and hospitals as well. Huge big washing machines, dryers and mangles which were like oversized irons for sheets and the like. The work was relentless and very tiring.

A lot of the child migrants were, I feel, abused both physically and mentally simply because we didn’t get visitors and had no-one to report the abuses to. Girls were constantly being told that ‘from the gutters of Belfast you came and to the gutters of Belfast you’d return’. Schooling was always under duress, beltings if exam results weren’t good enough or if you couldn’t understand what was being taught. To my mind it was likened to a modern day Oliver Twist, with all the cruelty that went on.

When I was in grade 2 I was informed that I was a very lucky girl because I received a letter from my mother. I was called up to the front of the class whilst the letter was read out to me. I never ever forgot that letter and always wondered when I would get a visit from my mother who said she’d try and come to get me to take me back to Ireland. Every time the door bell would go you’d stop and wait with hope, expecting your name to be called. In the end it would be a joke – yeah she’s walking across water to get me – not ever realising my letters that you wrote were never passed on. My education ended in second year high when I was 15 ½ years. I was sent 300 miles up north to look after 5 children and help around the house. One day I was with 200 kids, the next day 5 children and 2 adults. The quietness was frightening as I missed my school pals terribly. That job lasted six months and the second job for only one month, another country job doing housework for a very nasty and cold family. I was never ever greeted the time of day – just given orders on what had to be done for the day. No payment ever received. The third country job was as a shop assistant which I really enjoyed, but after 11 months I was very upset when told I would have to go back to St. Joseph’s. When her son came to pick me up I locked myself in the bathroom until I was given an assurance that I wasn’t going back. I was sent to a juvenile detention centre which scared me somewhat when I woke up the first morning as there were bars on all the windows and I thought that I had been sent to jail.

Because I rebelled I was given a welfare officer to help me out with jobs and accommodation. It was she who got my mother’s address and encouraged me to put pen to paper. Because I was eighteen I had to correspond by mail till I was allowed to go overseas and visit the family when I turned 21. When I first started to write, my mother told my siblings (2 brothers and 4 sisters) that I was their cousin from Australia. As they were still very young and still at school, not much explanation was needed. In 1967 I met my family for the first time. Being shy, I was very nervous, wondering if I was going to be accepted, but I needn’t have worried as everything turned out well.

When my mother passed away, I took my one year old son with me to the funeral. Sadly, she was buried on my birthday. When my son was eleven, I took him over again so he could meet all his cousins. It was wonderful to see them all together, it was like he belonged and was wonderful to see.

In 1988 I bumped into a school pal and she was telling me that when she received her personal papers from the welfare department, she had a breakdown. You see, because of her Afghan heritage she was dark skinned and in her papers said, although she was a very pretty little girl, she was unsuitable for adoption. We got talking and wondered how the other girls had faired when they got files. She told the doctors that …. the treatment the girls got at the home would come out – so he went to the Wish Foundation and formed an organisation called ICAS (Institutional Child Abuse Society). We went to print and on air and received a lot of support, especially after the radio interview. We got a lot of calls from the boys who were in Clontarf, Bindoon, Tardun and Castledare, telling us about the abuse that took place. We only heard from one or two other girls that they weren’t interested and just wanted to forget. After all this happened the boys formed their own organisations and the world got to hear of the terrible treatment the migrants and Aussie kids received in the institutions of the day.

I was on the committee that erected the child migrant statue in Fremantle, outside the Maritime Museum. My partner is a child migrant also and both our names are on the Welcome Wall, very close to the migrant statue. While on the committee, submissions were invited for the Child Migrant Memorial Statue, although my poem wasn’t accepted, these are my thoughts on the very sad history of child migration.

They did not know what lay in store

holidays abroad to far distant shores.

Yet in their memories as often recalled,

brothers – sisters

and friends what’s more.

Where are the families

that they once had

Back in their homelands,

How very very sad

Thousands of children crossing the line

Holidays and memories lasting a lifetime

Ann McVeigh 29 January 2011

articles/lectures, documents, film, Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

‘Sins of a Child’

by Rosie Klohs (guest author) on 18 July, 2011

‘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.

articles/lectures, Child Migrants, photos

Recruited from Nazareth House, UK

by Oliver Cosgrove (guest author) on 12 July, 2011

Read the Catholic ‘Record’ newspaper’s report of the arrival of young Oliver Cosgrove, one of 65 children on board the SS ‘New Australia’ in 1953.

Oliver, aged four, and pictured on the right in the image below, was recruited from Nazareth House, London for the voyage. The ‘New Australia’ arrived on 22nd February 1953.

The report below is from the Perth Catholic newspaper, The Record, Thursday 26 February, 1953.

The photographs below were taken of the 1952 Christmas party at Nazareth House Hammersmith, London. One month later, some of these children boarded the ‘New Australia’.

A child migrant saw the photos on the noticeboard, removed them and brought them with her to Australia.