Memorial opens to help heal Parramatta Girls Home pain
Former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home were acknowledged today with the NSW Government opening a memorial for abuse survivors at the site in Western Sydney.
Minister for Families and Communities Natasha Maclaren-Jones said the commemorative site seeks to honour the women and girls held at the facility.
“Parramatta Girls Home is a reminder of the mistakes of the past and I hope that this memorial can help us learn from those mistakes and acknowledge the pain experienced by so many who lived there,” Mrs Maclaren-Jones said.
“I want all survivors and their families to know that they are loved and appreciated and this memorial is to express that the state is truly sorry for what they have been through.”
In 2018, the NSW Government officially apologised to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, including those who suffered acts of exploitation at sites like the Parramatta Girls Home and have had to carry the trauma of those events.
The memorial features a remembrance garden and sandstone structures with graffiti found etched on the walls of the building, which aims to express bonds of friendship and solidarity, overlaid with recollections of the ‘Parra Girls’ who once lived at the centre.
In partnership with Triggerdesign, the Department of Communities and Justice consulted closely with former residents to design the memorial and worked with the Department of Planning and Environment to deliver it.
Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said he hoped the conversion of the site to a place of healing would go some way to help acknowledge the struggles of survivors.
“This is a significant milestone in our efforts to restore and preserve historic sites within the Parramatta North Precinct, to provide a place for people to heal and for others to learn the important stories of our past,” Mr Roberts said.
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said for more than a century Aboriginal women and girls were taken to Parramatta Girls Home and have had to live through the trauma and cultural disconnection these past policies caused. This memorial is a reminder for those past mistakes to never be repeated.
“I’d like to acknowledge and send my sincere thoughts to the many Aboriginal women and girls that were removed and taken to the Parramatta Girls Home, those that made it home, those who are still on their journey and those that never made it home,” Mr Franklin said.
Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said the memorial is now open to the whole community as an active place of history.
“From today this garden and memorial is a place where people will be able to come to learn about our history and the significance of what occurred here,” Mr Lee said.
The NSW Government committed to developing the memorial after the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse investigated abuse that occurred at the former Parramatta Girls Home.