art, Child Migrants, events, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects, Responding to the National Apology, Stolen Generations

No more silent tears #2

by Leigh Westin (guest author) on 14 July, 2011

Leigh Westin, who grew up in Scarba House and Parramatta Girls Home, is creating a memorial entitled No More Silent Tears for Forgotten Australians. The memorial is comprised of a large panel of handkerchiefs sewn together, each decorated by those who spent time in a Children’s Home or institution.

If you experienced institutional or out-of-home ‘care’ and would like to contribute to this memorial, then on a lady’s-sized handkerchief embroider and/or write in ink, your name, the name of the institutions(s) and the year(s) that you lived there. Please feel free to decorate it however you wish, so that it will be suitable for people of all ages to view. The important thing is that you only use a lady’s handkerchief so that Leigh can easily sew them together. You may, of course, make a handkerchief in order to remember a Forgotten Australian or former Child Migrant who has passed away.

You can then post it to:
Adele Chynoweth
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
Canberra ACT 2601

Adele will then pass the handkerchiefs onto Leigh. Please make sure that your contribution reaches Adele by close of business Friday 12 August, 2011.

Below are some of the handkerchiefs that have already been made.

articles/lectures, Child Migrants, documents, events, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations

Rally for children’s safety

by The Benevolent Society (guest author) on 21 April, 2011

Carolin Wenzel from The Benevolent Society lets us know about two current ways to support children’s safety. Members of the public are invited to suubmit their view to the Senate Inquiry into Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 [Provisions]. There is also a Rally for Children’s Safety at Parliament House, Canberra, on Wednesday 25 May 2011.

Carolin Wenzel from The Benevolent Society writes:

I’m writing to let you know about two opportunities to support improving the Family Law Act to make it safer for children and parents who are victims of  domestic violence.

You have probably heard about the Senate Inquiry into the Government’s Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill, which was introduced into the House of Representatives by Attorney-General Robert McClelland on March 24th.  Whilst this amendment is a positive step in the right direction,  The Senate Inquiry is an opportunity to present a case for further changes to protect children and their carers under threat of ongoing violence from an ex-partner.

It’s very important, once again to get as many strong submissions to this Inquiry as possible.  They won’t have any access to the submissions that were sent to the Attorney General in January. Submissions close on Friday April 29th – so please act now.

The other exciting development is that several groups are working together to hold a

Rally for Children’s Safety  at Parliament House Canberra on Wednesday May 25

Speakers lined up so far are:

  • Helen Cummings, author of “Blood Vows”
  • Dr Lesley Laing, author of the No Way to Live Report
  • Women’s Refuge Movement Executive Officer, Cat Gander
  • Benevolent Society CEO Richard Spencer
  • Bikers United Against Child Abuse

and we are working on several more, including parents who have harrowing experiences of poor parenting arrangement outcomes under the current Family Law Act.

We also feel it’s very important that the experiences and voices of children are a focus of this Rally.

We invite anyone who’s children have experienced trauma or feel unsafe about court imposed parenting arrangements to create a drawing or artwork respresenting how they feel, and to write a few words on another sheet of paper expressing their thoughts and feelings. They can just write their age (not their name so they are not identifiable)

If possible it would be great to laminate these and either bring them with you to the Rally or send them to me (address in signature below)

We would love you to come to the Rally, and The Benevolent Society is booking a bus to take up to 50 people from Sydney to leave early and be back in Sydney by 6pm that day.

We are working on an e-flyer and a place to link to info about the Rally online – so stay tuned for further updates.

Please pass on this message to anyone you think would be interested, and invite them to send me their email address so that I can include them in further updates.

I will ensure that individual emails are not revealed in any mail out.

Warm Regards,
Carolin Wenzel

articles/lectures, documents, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations

Welfare refutes slander against Good Shepherd Home

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

How did abuse happen in institutions without anyone knowing at the time? In 1944, a Mrs Grundy in Perth knew. Her letters of complaint against child slave labour at the Convent of the Good Shepherd were published by the Catholic newspaper The Record, on Wednesday, 20 September 1944.  In the reply, the editor published the response of Welfare. Oliver Cosgrove kindly made available to the National Museum this excerpt from The Record, headlined Child Welfare Department Refute Malicious Slander Against Home of the Good Shepherd:

Mrs Grundy, Perth:

The next letter is from Mrs Grundy, Perth. She writes: Dear Sir – Will you please answer the following question?

Q: Why are such corrupt and diabolical institutions as the (so called) Convent of the Good Shepherd, where the inmates are mainly slaves, and where the industrial laws of the country are flouted, exempt from Government inspection?

A: In view of the startling and damaging nature of your revelations, your letter was shown to an official of the Child Welfare Department, so that the matter could be investigated and the abuse corrected if necessary. The following reply was received:

“All industrial homes, including the Home of the Good Shepherd Convent must be approved by the Governor through his representative, before they are allowed to function and all are subject to inspection by Government officials at any time. So far as the Home of the Good Shepherd is concerned, a full inspection covering buildings, living and working conditions, food and books of admission and discharges is made every three months by officers of the Child Welfare Department, who also interview the children and make individual reports upon them to the Secretary of the Department.

“The Child Welfare Department regulations require the institution to provide industrial training, such as needlework, washing, ironing, housework, cooking, gardening, and where cows are kept, dairying. This is necessary for the rehabilitation of the children. The same regulations control the hours of work.”

The next question from Mrs Grundy is this:

Q: The prisoners in our common gaols get a little remuneration for their labour, but in your Good Shepherd reformatory all they receive is plenty of hard work, hard living and blows. No wonder the poor unfortunate girl delinquents prefer the State prison to the sheltering care of your Convents.

A: Once again I quote the letter of the Child Welfare Department official;

“The committal of children to the Home of the Good Shepherd is not made as a punitive measure, but as a constructive one, and every effort is made to train their minds as well as their hands.

“Regular remuneration is not given because the Home is run for the comfort and care, not only of those who work under supervision, but also for those who for various reasons cannot work, some having to be nursed.

“State prisons are a Government responsibility, the overhead cost of running them being met by the taxpayers.

“As for girls preferring State prisons to the Home of the Good Shepherd, this may be said by an incorrigible girl out of bravado, but is far from the truth.

“The conditions of living at the Home of the Good Shepherd are such that many children, both ex-wards of the State and private girls, return there of their own free will, rather than remain in homes or in positions. Government regulations allow that corporal punishment may be administered for offences against morality, gross impertinence, or for persistent disobedience, but not for trivial breaches of discipline or dullness in learning. However, corporal punishment is not resorted to in the Home of the Good Shepherd.”

Child Migrants, events, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations

Compensation users forum

by Adele Chynoweth on 18 March, 2011

Victims Services from the NSW Government Department of Justice and Attorney General will be holding a Compensation Users Forum on 27 April 2011.

The intention is for Victims Services to hold regular forums where people working in the area and accessing the services can attend and discuss recent trends and issues.

The aim is to make the process of applying for compensation and counselling easier for the people working in the area and more accessible to victims of crime.

Solicitors who work in victims compensation matters and any agencies or groups interested can attend on that day.

It will be held at 10.00am on Wednesday 27 April 2011 Level 4, Justice Precinct Building 160 Marsden Street Parramatta

The Forum will be hosted by the Director, Victims Services and the Registrar, Victims Compensation Tribunal.

Forgotten Australians, memories, Stolen Generations

A Woman’s Place

by Bonney Djuric (guest author) on 8 March, 2011

In celebration of International Women’s Day there is an information stall on Tuesday 8 March 10-2pm in the Church St/St John’s Mall, Parramatta.

The stall is part of the campaign to seek the dedication of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct as a national heritage destination and in also promoting other women’s organisations and International Women’s Day events.

Bonney Djuric hopes that it prove to be another step forward in achieving the goal of having the site recognised and established as a Women’s Place of history and heritage:

Exploring the Past – Remembering Convict Women
Back in 1827 women broke out of the Female Factory and made their way into the township of Parramatta to fight for their rights in demanding better food and conditions. Essentially this was the first industrial action to take place in Australia. The women were also responsible for producing Australia’s first manufactured export – ‘Parramatta cloth’. It’s 164 years since the last convict woman was relegated to the Female Factory—its remnant buildings are now part of the Cumberland Hospital complex in Fleet St Parramatta. In the early years of the 20th century when the women’s suffrage movement began to emerge few remembered the contribution that these women made. It’s time that they were acknowledged.

Illuminating the Present
Today we live in a society where women have attained equality—however this equality has yet to extend to places significant to women’s history. In 1992 House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs ‘Half Way to Equal’ report recommended that ‘A Woman’s Place’ be established in recognition of women’s history and heritage. The Parramatta Female Factory Precinct is ideally suited for this purpose

Below you can view the film Taking Freedom: Celebrating Women at the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site, Hobart (1828 – 1901) and the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, Sydney (1821 – present).

You can access further information at the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct website

film, Forgotten Australians, memories, Stolen Generations

Is justice yet to come?

by Rhonda Trivett (guest author) on 2 March, 2011

In these videos, Rhonda Trivett details some of her experiences from the age of 13, from 1974 – 1981, when she was interned in the maximum security adult ward (Osler House), in Wolston Park Hospital and her call for current reforms.

Part 2 contains explicit descriptions of abuse, therefore we have not uploaded it onto the website. However, if you wish you can view part 2 below:

Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects, Stolen Generations

Cleanliness is Godliness

by Adele Chynoweth on 22 February, 2011

As a child, were you required to fulfil cleaning duties in your institution? The National Museum wishes to draw attention to this work in it pending exhibition Inside: Life in Children’s Homes. Can you help?

We are interested in learning, from former residents of Children’s Homes, about what cleaning products or objects you cleaned with.

Please feel free to post a response below or on the message board on this site.

You can also email me us at:
contact_us@forgottenaustralianshistory.gov.au
if you don’t want your contribution to be published online.

We understand that writing about such incidents may mean reliving them so please don’t feel obliged to share, if this is too distressing for you because your wellbeing is more important than our list!

We also have included a list of links to advocacy, support, counselling and record-finding services on the right hand side of this website. If you would like further assistance you are most welcome to email us here at contact_us@forgottenaustralianshistory.gov.au and we will endeavour to locate appropriate contact information for you.