This important part of Sydney’s history was not a pleasant place and I’m sure a sad sight for former residents, it is the Parramatta Girls Home. As a warning, this was a confronting location to research, as a result it may be a confronting post for some, but it isn’t a story to be ignored.
This is the site where neglected, orphaned, abandoned or girls convicted of crimes were sent between 1887 and 1974. An estimated 30,000 children, including a number of indigenous girls from the Stolen Generations passed through the school.
On the surface it was intended for care, reformation and training but in many sad cases was anything but. With an average of 160 girls living here at a given time, many of who had difficult upbringings meant it was a tough place to live. It was a bleak existence involving routine searches, many locked doors, a lack of privacy in toilets and showers, mail censorship and restricted access to families. It is also said to have had an authoritarian atmosphere with punishments including removal of visitor access, being made to stand still for hours, hard labour and isolation cells including the “dungeon” basement rooms. In extreme cases it’s said that anti-psychotic drugs and sedatives were used on the more difficult to manage girls.
The sad story continues with alleged cases of male staff who are said to have physically and sexually abused the inmates. Though I’m sure most of the people who worked there were kind hearted, hearing this makes one particularly sad. Riots were also fairly common place in the home, particularly during meal times.
Protests against the brutality of the home in 1973 after an ABC New story contributed towards its closure in 1974. I feel for the women who spent time in this place during their innocent years and hope that any lasting suffering is kept to a minimum.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.