Our history is in our story told

 More than 60 state and Federal inquiries  including research papers and documents

Higgins Family ,a seven generation

Non indigenous in state and church care – Since 1851          

Starting with Australia’s colonial days , through to the 21st century

Since the early colonial days Australians treatment of children has varied from very good to poor quality to downright aggressive abusive treatment This is their story

The Ophan schools were the first schools in the colony established by Governor King they were given a massive grant of land whith at least some 2000 acres in the   Cabramatta  on the outskirts of Sydney area the rent from which were to support the orphanage – making wards particularly self sufficient from .

Ironically the 1818 replacement for the 1801 Female Orphan School is now the historical centre of the University of Western Sydney in East Parramatta while another is the Norma Parker prison. Further Mayfarm Homes which had its own school on the premises is now the New South Wales corrective services Academy

The first taxes raised in the colony along with all the fines and auctions  of impounded imports were used to provide for orphans

However it was the last of the orphan land to the church and schools corporation and the ensuing sectarian warfare over the Commonwealth’s children concerning both catholic and Anglican which grew into the ever present battles of state aide to  provide sectarian education that lead to the orphan school’s demise and prevented it challenging the afterthoughts of New South Wales education. The Kings School Scots College and  the University of Sydney

Rev Samual Marsden : quote….

The state school would be equally unsuitable for neglected or gutter children as they were established for those of a higher grade they ought not to be trusted into the range of clean tidy children even if they wish to which they do not.

The church of England also held this view that a restricted education was a tool to use in dealing with lower class children to fit them for the station and live to which they were born

  1. If one looks at the history of child welfare up to this very day, one would be forgiven for thinking that such attitudes are among us still

(A study by John Murray Positive Justice Center)

Investigations by Committies would find stake holders would

use the excuse “we didn’t  know we had to report abuse or we weren’t mandatory reporters then” with similar distain

For example within three years of the setting up of the St Vincent De De Paul in New South Wales in the 1880s and it’s running of a barrack style institution, the chairman of the Conference management committee informed the organisations members to be aware of their responsibility to report child abuse to the police

As early as the child well fare ther act number 21 1923 section 27 made it absolutely clear that-

“Any perserson-

  •  treats terrorises over works or indeed any child committed to as an inmate of an institution
  •  And /or (I) Neglects such child
  • Shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £100 or to be imprisoned for a period of six months or both
  • Even if such a legal decade didn’t exist, the fact that these organisations were working in this arena, they were gaining considerable access to the public purse, and were shaping policy,practice and legislation, would have implied a responsibility to properly disclose abuse to the relevant authorities


For most, the trauma of being raised in care begin with the actually separation from family and through being processed. Many former state wards described in their submission of being to state  reception centres or receiving homes before appearing in court and facing charges of status crimes they had no control over, such as being exposed to moral danger or with neglect. The following description some up the many stories received on what was a frightening process for vulnerable children

After suffering the early morning trauma of being dragged away from my family, I was taken before the court, standing beside my brothers with the escort of police. We were charged with what I can remember thinking what have we done wrong I look at my mother who was in tears my grandfather with his head in his hands. I was then separated from them all

Even for those who were placed into care voluntarily the trauma of being separated from family members has remained in inprinted in their consciousness. Many described the day of separation as the worst one of their lives. For instance

I felt my life had come to an end after the door was closed behind me. I missed my mother enormously and cried myself to sleep, the feelings of loneliness and isolation were terrifying. I was scared and I wondered what would become of me

Quite apart from the shock experienced on entering the intimidating environment Carrie as director of children’s institution, children where subject to a number of health and hygiene procedures. Di lising by cutting and washing hair and kerosene was common, as with the dramatic practice of what is described as state sanctioned right whereby virginal examinations work carried out some girls

Organisations running these homes were absolutely powerful and they use their absolute power over individuals children with absolutely no power unmercifully

On the terms of reference regarding the statue of limitations. This is a highly legalistic area 

Despite this complete power, we provision within the child welfare act 1939 which limited state ward statue of limitations to six months when every other citizens right to sue was set at six years shows a recognition by Department of the Buse that was occurring at the time

(John Murray Positive Justice Centre)

                   YOUTH WEFARE SECTION


Test Results General intellegance.  –    low average

Practical reasoning.                         –    Inferiour

Numerical.                                       –     low average

Plan and design.                             –     Inferiour

Mechanical.                                     –     low average

                The writers IQ examination results

                               At age eleven yrs

                         IQ results at age nine yrs

               IQ test 62 – between very slow and moron


Unskilled work or a menual or industrial nature Factory process work


   WARNING this contains graphic details of abuses in the victims own words as transcribed in numerous state and federal inquiries Forgotten Australians 1920-90 of non indigenous Australians

WARNING these actual events by survivors may trigger emotional distress

Brutality physical emotional sexual spiritual experiences

To illustrate how childhoods were vandalised in Australia orphanages and homes the following citations are but a few of the countless narratives received

I was vomiting up file which stained my bed close. Even though I could barely move, I was flogged while still in bed, then made to get up and wash the sheets. They dried leaving a stain, for which I was flogged again. I was so sick, I defied the Nun and

went back to bed. Eventually the non-realise how ill I was.

So he borrowed another strap. I was feeling pretty tough at this time, and I vowed and declared that if he hit me I would not cry. Six six~no tears, and I am taking real hits. Six, six no tears . Six six six six the tears were almost there and then whack, whack across the head because I would not cry. Gentle people, aren’t they

I was up~ended with no clothes on in the river up to my armpits and the brothers would hit the souls of my feet which would make me cry out, and I would have drowned from the river water.

As I was a bed wetter, I used to be belted daily. They used to throw me under a cold shower and then belt me really hard with a large strap while I was wet. This was extremely painful, especially in water and left big red marks on my body. They also used to rub my face in  the wet sheets and then my brother had to wash them.

Four kids would hold the offender down and a nun would hit the buttocks with a leather strap, anything up to 6 times. Once I was hit so hard I could not sit down for days

They seem to take great pleasure in humiliating us publicly well, flogging us which a heavy leather belt while we knelt naked at his feet. Anything up to 60 lashes and you always ended up bleeding profusely. Sometimes boys lost consciousness. They were the lucky ones.

Descriptions of sexual abuse assaults were also common both in charitable and church run institutions. Systematic depravity was quite exceptional including paedophilia from X residents of the situations run by the Christian brothers. Dr Barry Ray, a Christian brother, Historian wrote of sex rings operating in some of the orphanages in “ Reaping the Whildwind ‘a secret Report for the executive of the Christian brothers sexual abuse from 1930 to 1994. Extracts from – were used in the New South Wales Supreme Court in December 1994 during a class action had been brought against the Christian brothers.

If any girls ran away, when they were caught they were publicly flogged. Us girls used to have tears in our eyes watching this ,but we couldn’t do anything.

Nuns would walk up and down the aisles of the dormitory of the boys picking out those for sexual gratification. Boys would be traumatised at who would be picked out as a victim for the night

As the New South Wales child protection Council has remarked if you don’t have the statistics you can’t know how big the problem is and it is one less worry when there are lots of other areas to worry about.

The New  south Wiles Department of community services 1996 stated that 50% of children in care in New South Wales completed year 10 or less.

50 to 70% of care leavers have no formal qualifications compare to 6% of the general population, and only 12 to 19% go on to further educate and compared with 68%. Only 2% went on to territory education compared with 81% of the general population

Children in child institutions beteen 1920-90 known as the “Forgotton Australians “ from the title formally known as the

“LOST Australians 500,000 in all ,had an education level of between third or fourth grade.

In a another study 35% of children in care have attention deficit disorder or conduct disorders compared with an estimated 3 to 6% of the general population.

Never to be released prisoners.

Journalist Paul Kids book never to be released in which the last child of the process use was described in the following terms.

The jobless,, The misfits and the homeless street kids of Sydney society go for a free meal and some companionship, those Street kids who survive their teenage years usually wind up in jail. But not all survive many did not reach adult hood

The life span of aboriginals is 10.1 years less than the national average

The lifespan of those known as forgotten Australians 1920~ 1990 have a lifespan 14 years less than the national average.

My family a seven generation non indigenous in state and church care have a life stand less than the national average by 16 years.


WOOD Inquiry Australian Royal Commissions 1872 &:2008 All Australian state and Territories inquiries Movie

“Beyond the Promise” YouTube  “Forgotten Australians calling for Healing and Justice”

Legislative History of Child Welfare in Australia

1864 Legislative & Criminal Childrens  Act

1872 Royal Commission

1890 Neglective Children’s & Juvenile Affenders Act

1906 Children’s Court Act

1907 Infant Life Protection Act

1919 Child Maintenance Act

1924 Children’s Welfare Act

1928 Adoptions Act

1923 Children’s Welfare Act extended

1941 Commonwealth Child Endowment

1944 Unemployed & Sickness benifit introduced

1946 English “ Curtis Committee’s report

1954 Children’s Welfare Activities

1955 Juvenile Delinguency Advisory Act

1957 Merritt Report-Commissioned by theDept.

1960 Social Welfare Act

1963 Children who need help by Len Tiernery

1970 Community Welfare Act

2003-4 Federal State inquiryForgotten Australians

Many more References will be mentioned in the second edition to this report

Thank you for your time and effort in reading this examination on Australia’s Children in State and religious organisations