A place for survivors

What happened to abuse survivors at the former Parramatta Girls Home is part of history.

Flashback: Residents at work at Parramatta Girls Home, which closed in July 1974.

Flashback: Residents at work at Parramatta Girls Home, which closed in July 1974.

It’s hoped a new memorial will ensure the past will never happen again.

Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward met with former residents at Parliament House last week to unveil proposed designs. The memorial, to be designed by successful tenderer Trigger will provide a place at the former home for its survivors, their loved ones and the public, to reflect.

The state government made a commitment to develop a memorial following the 2014 Royal Commission.

“We heard from more than 80 survivors of the Parramatta Girls Home while we were planning this memorial and what they shared with us were stories of the long lasting impact of the abuse they experienced,” Ms Goward said. “We heard horrific stories of harsh discipline and physical and sexual abuse perpetrated against them by the very people who were entrusted to care for them. This memorial will not change what happened, but it will send a clear message that abuse against children is not acceptable and should never happen again.”

Former residents participated in the design selection process to ensure the memorial reflected common themes and values. They included Bonney Djuric, who founded Parragirls in 2006 as a support network and contact register for fellow former residents.  “We were absolutely delighted to have been chosen, especially as it will ensure that Parragirls are properly represented in the memorial,” Ms Djuric said.

She’s also co-founder of the Parramatta Female Factory Precinct Memory Project, which has been working with UNSW National Institute of Experimental Arts on a new exhibition as part of the Big Anxiety Festival. 

Parragirls Past, Present takes visitors on a virtual tour of the facility, guided by voiceover narrations telling the stories of the young women who lived there.

“We hope will feature at many international film festivals and art shows in the future,” Ms Djuric said.

It’s on exhibition at the EPICentre Paddington until November 11 and will be in Parramatta, October 12-21.

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