PARRAMATTA GIRLS HOME AS AN INTERNATIONAL SITE OF CONSCIENCE

Katherine Knight alerts us to an historical perspective to the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sex Abuse.

On 31 January, Bonney Djuric posted on Facebook “See ABC 7.30 Report NSW, tonight Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Parramatta Girls Home”. For over a decade, the former “Parramatta Girl” Bonney has been leading a movement to research and understand the impact of poverty and the child welfare system, as well as to work for system reform and healing for those whose lives were damaged during their time in the institution. This includes the preservation of the Parramatta Girls Home and the adjacent colonial Female Factory site and its dedication as a living memorial to the Forgotten Australians and others marginalised by society.

Bonney’s argument is that Australia’s convict legacy had an influence on its welfare system. The decades of transportation shaped ideas and beliefs about females who could be charged and committed to institutions for being ‘Exposed to Moral Danger’; a charge which did not apply to males. Not even two per cent of the inmates at Parramatta Girls Home, which operated from 1887 to 1986, had been charged with a criminal offence.

In 2007, Bonney contacted UTS Shopfront, the University of Technology Sydney’s gateway to the community. She wanted help in compiling a history of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct. Since then, Parragirls and Shopfront have worked on several projects. Their fourth is the PFFP Memory Project: trace, place, identity, which aims to preserve the precinct’s history and turn it into an internationally recognised Site of Conscience.

With support from Arts NSW, the PFFP Memory Project is presenting a Children’s Day on site on 9 March 2014. And in May Riverside Theatre will present Parramatta Girls by Alana Valentine. The play tells of the courage, hardship and inequality the Parramatta girls experienced.

The photo (by Mike Chin) shows The Memory Project’s core team: artist, Mike Chin, former Parramatta Girls – Jeannie (Gypsie) Hayes and Bonnie Djuric, indigenous artist and teacher Leanne Tobin, playwright Alana Valentine and artist and teacher Liz Day.

Comments are now closed on this post. If you have a story about abuse at the Parramatta Girls Home we recommend that you contact the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

BY phanswblogeditor IN Uncategorized ON 31 JANUARY 2014

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5 Comments

  1. Katherine Knight Katherine Knight says:

    Many thanks for this Francesca. A great deal of information is available through the Parragirls’ and related websites and through Facebook. Bonney’s personal account on ABC 7.30 tonight was very articulate and well supported by historic and current imagery.

  2. phanswblogeditor says:

    Here are relevant links to this story.
    Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: https://www.facebook.com/CARoyalComm
    2009 article about Bonney: http://blogs.crikey.com.au/trevorcook/2009/11/16/bonney-djuric-parramatta-girls-home-and-the-forgotten-australians/
    PFFP Memory project: https://www.facebook.com/PFFPMemoryProject?fref=ts%20
    Riverside theatre: http://riversideparramatta.com.au/show/parramatta-girls/

  3. gail hannaford says:

    My time in this cruel place for nothing more than being charged a neglected and exposed to moral danger (I ran away from home many times to escape the many beatings I received from my Father and stepmother. I will never forget this place as long as I live. The isolation block where I WAS LOCKED UP FOR 24 hours for using the word”BLOODY’ and fed bread and water and a mattress being taken into this concrete cell of a night
    with nothing more than 1 flimsy blanket (in winter time”. I will never forget being smashed in the face with a key ring by Mr Crawford
    ‘To teach me a lesson”. I will never forget eating porridge for breakfast and having to pick the weavils
    first. I will never forget scrubbing a concrete verandah with a toothbrush in the middle of winter and being wrapped over the fingers with a cane for not doing it to her liking(CAN STILL FEEL THAT PAIN) WE WERE KIDS IN THIS PLACE WHO NEEDED NUTURING
    WHERE WERE POWERS TO BE WHEN THIS WAS GOING ON. THIS CHANGED MY LIFE FOREVER.

  4. […] to Professional Historians Association Blog editor, here is the latest post about the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct: Memory Project and […]

  5. Gail – I’m so sorry. This is heartbreaking and just wrong. While the PFFP Memory Project can’t change that dreadful history, Bonney and her team are aiming to draw some value from it in healing, learning and inspiration for a cultural-creative hub and an internationally recognised Site of Conscience. A Children’s Day, March 9, is currently in preparation. http://www.pffpmemoryproject.org/events.php

  6. […] including discovery, hearing, and learning, and designing a children’s garden. While the site has a grim history of punishment of women and children, organisers aim to transform it to one of […]

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