I do a little pro bono work for this important organisation:
We strive to promote understanding, reconciliation and healing in all our activities Parragirls is an initiative of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Association (PFFP), a non-profit organisation, established in New South Wales in 2006 by former inmates of Parramatta Girls Home who sought to broaden community awareness of the Parramatta Precinct, its institutions and individuals who once resided within its domain.
We are faced with enormous difficulties in getting to the heart of the story, and in uncovering this history. One barrier being the sense of shame and lack of self empowerment, not to mention lack of education and economic disadvantage that these women have experienced all their lives. Likewise with many who contact us we encounter the aftermath of the experience first hand, often manifesting as a mental illness or addiction particularly for those women who were sent to Hay.
Women who need support not only for their physical health but their emotional well being and for whom we can offer no help but to listen.
Our greatest difficulty is in dealing with the bureacratic wall of resistance that hides behind a provision in the Freedom of Information Act which does not permit public access to institutional records for a period of seventy years, which means that those of us still alive and able to interpret the meaning implied in these records will not live long enough to illuminate the text.
We are saddened to learn that more than 40% of all records created by the Welfare Department have been ‘lost’ or destroyed due to past record keeping procedures. Forty percent that represents at least 40,000 individual lives whose childhoods have been wiped out and finally the residual bias and devaluing of women’s history as a area of significant importance in Australia’s story.
We urge you to contact us, to show your support, to reconnect, to be validated and to contribute
See the following for some more information:
Federal MP for Parramatta, Julie Owens, tells Parliament about this issue
Phillip Adams interview on “Hay Girls”
NSW MP, Tanya Gadiel, tells NSW Parliament about the Parramatta Female Precinct project
Parramatta newspaper story on the 2008 Open Day
AWAYE (7 April 2007) - “The harrowing stories of former inmates of the Parramatta Girls Home have been adapted into a play.”
Wilma’s Story - One woman’s experience of the NSW Juvenile Justice system