documents, events, Forgotten Australians, memories

Life inside Westbrook Boys Home

by Adele Chynoweth on 27 October, 2011

Listen to author Al ‘Crow’ Fletcher talk  about his experiences at Westbrook Farm Home for Boys.

Al joined Adele Chynoweth at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on 1 September 2011. He is the author of Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home by Al Fletcher as told to Cheryl Jorgensen.

Hear Al Fletcher’s perspective as a survivor or read the transcript on the National Museum website.

Forgotten Australians

Westbrook Family Fun Day

by Clayton Rogers (guest author) on 27 September, 2011

Westbrook resident and Inside website contributor Clayton Rogers invites all Westbrook Boys Home survivors to the Westbrook Family Fun Day.

Clayton writes:

The Westbrook Family Fun Day will be at Centenary Park, Barwick Street, Westbrook on 21 October 2012. This date will align with Family Week in Toowoomba. Our Family Fun Day will have all the usual free things. Free jumping castles, free music, free rides, marquees, tents, stalls, affordable food, interactive skate ramps, tool time building for families, KIDZ zone – with all the messy goop – our theme is ‘Celebrate our Community’. BBQs, food stalls, shaded area – all these and much more. The local businesses financially support the day and we promote them.

It would be an honour to have any survivors from the Westbrook Boys Home to be there on the day. This may be a lot to ask of you – but the offer is there.

articles/lectures, Forgotten Australians, memories

Inside Westbrook

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.

documents, Forgotten Australians

Schwarten Inquiry into Westbrook

‘The Superintendent said, “Don’t look at me in that tone of voice”  and banged boy 90’s head several times against the tin wall’. Read the full 1961 report of the Inquiry into Westbrook Farm Home for Boys by Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr AE Schwarten.

The report was conducted after an ‘incident which occurred on Sunday, 14th May, 1961, at the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook, in which approximately 36 inmates of the said Home were involved and number of whom escaped’.

The report was provided to the National Museum of Australia by Al Fletcher, author of Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home by Al Fletcher as told to Cheryl Jorgensen. The report has since been published online by the Queensland Government.

Download a copy of the 79-page Westbrook Farm Home for Boys Inquiry Report (PDF 6.92MB)

Two boys seen through bars across a window at Westboork Boys Home
documents, Forgotten Australians, memories

Graham John Davis 1946 – 1974

by Warren Porter (guest author) on 5 April, 2011

Following on from his autobiography, A Tormented Life, Warren Porter writes the story of his deceased brother, Graham Davis. Warren writes about their abusive stepfather, how Graham was sent to Westbrook Farm Home in 1961 and police violence. Warren argues the case for a Royal Commission into the treatment of children in Australian institutions.

Warren mentions several locations in the south side of Brisbane including “the Gabber (the Five Ways)” which refers to the then layout of the railway yards in the suburb of Woolloongabba.

Download Warren’s account of his brother’s history: Graham John Davis 12.3.1946 – 23.10.1974 (PDF 7mb)

articles/lectures, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations

Reap as you sow

by Adele on 14 September, 2010

In an essay published in 2007, convicted bank robber, prison escapee and author  Bernie Matthews discusses the tragic outcomes for former child inmates of prison-run institutions – the Parramatta Training School for Girls, Hay Institution for Girls, Tamworth Institution for Boys, Hartwell House, Kiama and Westbrook Reformatory for Boys, Toowoomba.

Read ‘Reap as you sow‘ on the Griffith Review site.

art, documents, drawing, Forgotten Australians, memories

A tormented life

by Warren Porter (guest author) on 28 April, 2010

Warren and his younger brother Graham were placed in their first institution when they were 4 and 2 years old. They endured the next decade and a half in various institutions, training farms and – despite being under age – jail.

In telling their story, Warren includes evidence such as photographs and documents, as well as vivid descriptions and drawings such as the following:

It was around June 1959 when my mate Charlie and I were making plans to p*** off from the Brook but made the mistake of telling this new boy who wanted to come with us about what we were going to do.

To read more of Warren’s story, download the extract from his illustrated book (PDF 1.8mb). The book is now in the National Library of Australia.