Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, objects, photos

Clontarf strap #2

by Adele Chynoweth on 8 June, 2011

An X-ray scan of a leather strap made by Bill Brennan, who grew up in Clontarf Boys’ Town, WA, shows internal metal reinforcements inserted to give the strap more strength.

Bill made this strap when aged in his 50s as a copy of the the same straps he was required to make, at the age of 12, for the Christian Brothers. The X-ray image shows the metal reinforcements included to give the strap more strength when used to hit children.

events, Forgotten Australians, memories, music, photos

Memorial song

by Adele Chynoweth on 3 June, 2011

Alan Bowles, who grew up in a Salvation Army Home, shares ‘Forgotten’, the song he wrote and performed at the unveiling of the Victorian memorial to Forgotten Australians, in Melbourne on 25 October 2010.

Attendees of the apology by the Salvation Army to former residents of children homes, Old Parliament House, Canberra.

[2020 note: audio file no longer available]

Hear more of Alan’s music on the Australian Johnny Cash & June Carter Show MySpace website

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Silky Oaks

by Diane Tronc (guest author) on 1 June, 2011

Silky Oaks Children’s Home was founded by the Open Brethren and first opened in Toowong, Brisbane, Queensland in 1940. In 1946 the Home was relocated to Manly. Former Silky Oaks resident Diane Tronc shares historical photos of the Home, her foster family and the Silky Oaks Reunion in May 2011.

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Our day to clean the dining room floor

by Heather Templeman (guest author) on 31 May, 2011

Heather Templeman shares of photo of herself, aged 13, at Catherine Booth Salvation Army Girls Home.

Heather says:

It was our day to wash and polish the dining room floor. It was really quite big. We had already been on our hands and knees from washing the floor. After the floor had dried, we had to get down on our hands and knees again and rub the polish on. So our knees were sore so we thought well, we’ll go and get some rags and put them on our feet and run up and down and polish the floor that way and have some fun. We got a hiding for it but we had fun.
The photo was taken before we cleaned the dining room and it was taken by the Gardener. Can’t remember his name but have another photo he took of me and another girl. He liked the other girl a lot so he only got half of me in it. Pity as it would have been a nice photo. It was Captain C. who caught us but Matron who gave us the hiding, but it wasn’t as bad as what her other ones were.

Photo courtesy of CLAN

Melita and Heather (right) with rags on their feet ready to polish the floor.
Melita and Heather (right) with rags on their feet ready to polish the floor.
Photo courtesy of CLAN
Child Migrants, memories, photos

From the eyes of an eight year old

by Rupert Hewison (guest author) on 30 May, 2011

Rupert Hewison a former Child Migrant from Britain shares the photographs he took as an eight-year-old at Fairbridge House, Tresca, Exeter, Tasmania.

Rupert explains:

I was in Tresca from October 1964 to October 1965.

As a farewell gift when leaving England in 1964 my second cousin Alan Hewison gave me a small camera. My mother paid for the film and developing and encouraged me to take photos. I was eight in November 1964 so these are an eight year old’s idea of what would make a good photo at the time. As a child I was known by my middle name, John. These days I use my first name, Rupert. My mother died peacefully in Canberra late last year aged 82. Thank you Jean for having the courage to leave behind all your family and friends to give us a better life in the Promised Land.

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Nazareth House photos

by Gabrielle Short (guest author) on 27 May, 2011

On 15 April 2011 Dennis Fogarty posted a request on our Message Board, asking if anyone had photos taken during 1955-56, of Nazareth House in Sebastopol, Victoria. Gabrielle Short has kindly forwarded the following photos.

St Joseph’s Boys’ Dormitory, early 1960s
St Joseph’s Boys’ Dormitory, early 1960s

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Institutionalising the innocent

by James McMurchy (guest author) on 27 May, 2011

James McMurchy grew up in St Cuthbert’s Home for Boys, Colac, Victoria where his single  mother was employed as a house parent.

James shares his history:

I arrived at St Cuthbert’s Boys Home Colac courtesy of my mother; she was employed in the first instance as the House Cook and then, because of her ability to engage with the children, the House Parent.  Imagine it, if you will the single parent of forty-plus boys under the age of sixteen (plus me).

My mother became a single parent (I write this from a 21st century perspective, as parent is gender neutral language) after being thrown out onto the streets by her husband – the other person responsible for my, and my sister’s, conception – and with the assistance of the Australian legal system.

There were many women like my mother who found themselves in a similar position at the time forced, by circumstance, to place their children into ‘care.’  My mother avoided this but in reality did, as I was to live as ‘one of the boys.’  I slept in the same dormitories; we ate together; showered communally; faced the same social discrimination and went to Chapel (and one Holy Communion) five mornings a week, prior to breakfast and heading off to school. We were also required to attend another Holy Communion on the Sunday. We were the tangible symbol of ‘God’s love’ to the pious citizens of the Anglican Church’s community of Colac.

It was the institutionalising of the innocent. It was child abuse. My mother was visibly angry (in subsequent ‘family kitchen table’ conversations) at having to be a participant in the process, in part because her son was subjected to it too.  But what was she to do, as some love is better than no love?  There is forgiveness also for the Principal of the home at the time, Mrs Houghton and her husband, for the children looked up to her as a saint.  She replaced a sadistic paedophile and had an enlightened (for the time) approach to institutional child care.  I do not want to hear the sermons of today’s privileged.

I am in contact, and have been for some time, with another person from St. Cuthbert’s who is very interested in the history of the home, and has expressed an indebtedness to my mother (the salvation of at least one soul from God).  I fear however he may soon be about to die.  That person is a testament to human resilience.  He has succeeded in life, where many from more fortunate beginnings have not.  His story deserves telling too.

James McMurchy (left) with two others from St Cuthbert’s
Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Parkerville photos

by Bob McGuire (guest author) on 9 May, 2011

Bob McGuire shares his recent photographs of Parkerville Children’s Home, WA.

Bob says,

Some cottages are gone, sadly, as a lot of us go back for a look at the place. The dining room is one of the main photos as everyone remembers the beltings we would get in that place with the cane, just prior to having to sit down for a meal….sobbing uncontrollaby from the pain…….it has been renamed Worthington Hall, but that doesn’t hide the shame.

If the Anglican Church done the right thing, then they would build a nursing home and aged housing, with first preference to those that were there, and show that they now care.