Parramatta Girls to get 'place of recognition'

Bonney Djuric centre. Picture: Mike Chin.
Bonney Djuric centre. Picture: Mike Chin.

Survivors of abuse at the former Parramatta Girls Home have been promised  an ''active place of recognition'' to pay tribute to the children who experienced sexual and physical abuse at the site.

Measures announced on Monday, which are part of the state’s response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, include clearing a ‘‘backlog’’ of requests from victims to access government-held records of their time in ‘care’.

Former girls’ home ward Bonney Djuric, who was kept at the home for eight months when she was 15, said it was ‘‘terrific’’ the state government was doing something to recognise survivors after ‘‘lots of promises in the past from previous governments’’.

‘‘It’s very powerful,’’ Ms Djuric said. ‘‘It hasn’t hit me yet. It will probably catch up with me by Friday, it’s starting to dawn on me just how significant this is.

‘‘Parramatta Girls and others will be able to go to the site and have a place where they’re welcome. We’ve had some terrible things where we’ve had security guards chasing them out of the place, it was nonsense. So it’s about recognising these institutions mean something to people and that some people need to go back to them and spend time there for their own healing.’’

‘‘Parramatta Girls and others will be able to go to the site and have a place where they’re welcome. We’ve had some terrible things where we’ve had security guards chasing them out of the place, it was nonsense. So it’s about recognising these institutions mean something to people and that some people need to go back to them and spend time there for their own healing.’’

NSW Attorney-General Brad Hazzard said the state government was ‘‘listening carefully’’ to ‘‘heartbreaking stories’’ as they unfold at the Royal Commission.

He said the government would establish an active place of recognition at the Parramatta Girls Home to pay tribute to the children who experienced sexual and physical abuse at this site, as well as consult with other survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to examine options for a state-wide place of recognition or memorial.

‘‘We want survivors to get the recognition and assistance they need,’’ he said.

Ms Djuric, who co-founded the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project with Leanne Tobin in 2012, said the announcement followed a visit by Family and Community Services minister Gabrielle Upton on Friday.

‘‘I took her to the buildings and showed her the site.

‘‘Pru Goward when she had that portfolio came out to the see the Parramatta Girls play hot on the Royal Commission testimony, she said it affected her very, very much.’’

Ms Djuric said the government plan included a memorial garden, which would be consistent with a push to attain international accreditation for the former girls’ home as an Internanational Site of Conscience, in coalition with heritage sites around the world that promote human rights.

The Parramatta Girls Home was operational from 1887 to 1983.