articles/lectures, documents, Forgotten Australians, memories

Medical testing on children

by Tom Thompson (guest author) on 12 July, 2011

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.

Black and white photograph of a young boy standing on a swing.

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).

More

‘Melbourne Uni says sorry for trial on orphans’ 2009 report on The Age website

‘Polio vaccine tested at orphanages’ 2004 report  on the Age website

‘Institutions, the convenient laboratories’ 1997 report on the Age website. This article won the Melbourne Press Club Quill Award.

‘Vaccines tested on Australian orphans’ as reported in The Independent, UK, in 1997.

documents, Forgotten Australians, photos

Children’s mass grave in Sydney

By John Murray (guest author) on 1 November, 2010

Below are John Murray’s photographs taken of a re-interment ceremony held on 1 May 2000. Over 100 children’s bodies were re-interred at the site of the former Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children. The bodies were discovered during the rebuild of the psychiatric ward at Sydney Children’s Hospital. An archaeological survey was able to identify 40 of the bodies.

Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children was opened in 1852. The 1873 royal commission on public charities recommended that large institutions for children be closed down and that children be boarded out. At the time of the commission, the Randwick Asylum housed between 700 and 800 children. However, the Asylum did not begin boarding out children until 1883 and did not close until 1915.

The State Records Authority of New South Wales holds records of the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children.

And the State Library of New South Wales has the report of the 1995 gravesite excavation.

Forgotten Australians, memories

Suffer the little children

by Patricia Slatterie and Jeanette Blick (guest author) on 26 October, 2010

Patricia and Jeanette

In 1961, John, Frank, Patricia and Jeannette Halliday, without explanation, were taken to Allambie Reception Centre, Victoria before being taken to court and made wards of the state and then sent to Orana Methodist Home, Burwood. The Halliday children were subject to medical testing. As a result of the associated severe symptoms, they often had to be admitted to hospital. Patricia and Jeanette write about their memories of life at Orana.

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