events, Forgotten Australians

Winlaton reunion

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

Gabrielle Short has organised a reunion of former inmates from the Winlaton Youth Training Centre. The reunion will take place at Open Place in Melbourne on 29 October 2011.

Gabbi has announced:

We are holding a reunion for all those who spent time in Winlaton Youth Training Centre October 29th 2011. I think this will be a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and take a trip down memory lane. I’m sure there will be plenty of interesting stories to tell good & bad. Most of us were put there for no fault of our own, most of us were only running away from the system itself that failed to care for us in other homes, some because of being exposed to moral danger, some as a result of rape, pregnancy, poverty, the list goes on. We were not the bad girls that we were lead to believe and portrayed to the public. I know a lot of girls who still to this day will talk of other homes they were in but not Winlaton because of the shame and stigma that was once attached with being in Winlaton well it’s time to hold our heads up high and be proud of who we are and the fact that we have survived and are still here to tell our stories.

Forgotten Australians, Responding to the National Apology

Don’t let this happen to the kids in the homes now

by Lynn Meyers (guest author) on 15 November, 2010

Lynnette Meyers
Lynn MeyersA response by a Forgotten Australian to the National Apology at Parliament House, Canberra, on 16 November 2009


My name is Lynette Meyers. I became a ward of the state with the Victorian government in 1959, September 1959. I was there until 1963. I was sent back to my stepfather in Queensland by the Victorian government and, on the recommendations that I have now read in my file, he was the last person I should have been sent back to. So I ran away from him immediately and went back to Victoria. From then on it was a revolving door until I got to about 30. I was in and out of Fairlea women’s prison from then right up until I was about 30 on and off over the years.

I got my tattoos on my arms when I first went into Winlaton in the lockup block in Goonyah. The girls used to have Indian ink and to rebel against the screws everybody used to tattoo themselves. I my first one was on my hand and then all over.

They used to lock us up in our quarters, that’s all, in our cells. At one stage I was in my cell for three weeks, me and another girl in the X cell. We scraped the bricks away so we could talk to each other. We had nothing in there but the floor. If you wanted to go to the toilet, you used to have to scream out for one of the screws to come and let you out to go to the toilet. They would only come when they wanted to.

What it means to me, it means that somebody is taking responsibility for the cruel things that happened to us in there. The tattoos, the drugs, the hidings, on Sparine and Largactil so we walked around like zombies. If you ever played up you got a needle in the bum by the men and just locked up, you know, solitary.

But also it means to me that I want the government not to let this happen to the young kids that are in the homes now. That is more important. What happened to me and others, we can’t do much about. But let’s not continue it on. That’s what it means.

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Winlaton file photos

by Lynn Meyers (guest author) on 1 March, 2010

I was admitted to Winlaton on the 14th of Sept 1959. I was on remand for a few months in Goonyah – the lock up block at Winlaton. I travelled to Bendigo court a few times, then I was made a ward of the state until I turned 18. I was committed under my stepfather’s name which was Koplick. I only found out when I went to court that my real name (birth certificate) is Meyers. I was there until 3/2/1962 when I was sent to QLD to my stepfather, who was deemed unsuitable in my files. I still do not know why they sent me to him. All the reports about him including the accommodation were unsuitable. I was given a tiny room at the back of his farm house, it did not have a real bed only boards supported by small stumps of wood. For bed covers he gave me an old army great coat. In fact he did not pick me up from the airport, he sent the local publican to get me. I had to stay with them at their hotel until he picked me up.

I ran away to find my mother who was living about 80 km away at Parckridge. I hitchhiked to her place and when I got there she was not there, so I waited in her house until she finely came home. She was amazed to see me. She did not want me to stay with her as she said she had made a new life and family. So she and Bob took me back to Waterford to my stepfather. I was not there long when I hitched back to Melbourne, to girls I really did know from the home. It did not take long for the police to pick me up and I was back in Winlaton again in 1963. I can not remember how long, but I am sure it was only for a few months, then off to Fairlea Women’s Prison. Another revolving door, for the next few years.

Goonyah is the first block that I was sent to in Winlaton, it was the secure lock up block. We never went outside from this block until we were deemed fit and behaving to the screws’ liking, and then we would earn the privilige to be transferred to Warrina, the second block. There we were always locked in at night. However we were allowed to go to school or do chores during the day. The next block was Karingal, this was the last block that we went to if we were behaving at Warrina. This was called the open block,where we were groomed to be sent home or to Leawarra hostel or foster parents.

I was sent to Leawarra twice, but I absconded with 3 other girls.We were caught at Wodonga and sent back to Goonyah.

art, Forgotten Australians, poetry


by Nicole Troccoli-Dennis (guest author) on 14 December, 2009

Nicole Troccoli-Dennis wrote the following poem in 1988, at Winlaton Detention Centre, Victoria.


The petals of my roses are merely wiltering away,

Dreams forever becoming destroyed right here in my face.

Freedom flew away without a thought for me,

My confidence now my enemy.

Love is too much of a burden,

Happiness merely a verb.

Psychotic thoughts come as freely as taking a breath “Aaahhh!!!”

I thought it was all around me,

Surprise, Surprise, I found it.

Way down inside of me,

Within the deepest realms of my soul.

Yep! Rage, Hatred, Mania and compulsive anxiety,

Let me out of this cold wet cage-like existence.

Disease and scars my proof,

Rejected from day one.

Some call this survival,

I say it’s a battle never won.

Agony, fright and all things nice,

That’s what I ended up made of.

Nicole Troccoli-Dennis at the National Apology to Forgotten Australians
Nicole Troccoli-Dennis at the National Apology to Forgotten Australians
Nicole Troccoli-Dennis at the National Apology to Forgotten Australians