Hay Girls Institution
In July 1961 a former colonial gaol at Hay, 760 kilometers from Sydney, was gazetted as an annex to Parramatta Girls Home and in September the first girls were transferred. The Institution for Girls at Hay,was a place of secondary punishment for 'incorrigible' girls who the authorities at Parramatta considered needed 'extra training'. It was a small facility which catered for up to 12 girls at any given time and the official term of stay was 3 months however this was frequently extended with some girls returning to Hay a number of times during their term at Parramatta.
Transfer & Arrival
Transfers occurred at night with girls escorted by officers on the long train journey. On arrival at Narranderra station girls were then taken to the institution in the back of a lock up van. Girls were usually sedated with largactil or valium during the journey and on their arrival issued institutional clothes, had their hair cropped short and locked in a scrubbing cell usually for a period of 10 days. After this they were placed in another cell known as 'cabins' for the remainder of their stay. Each cell was furnished with a single bad, thin mattress, a blanket, sheets, pillow, bible and night can.
A punishing routine of discipline & control
Hay was a place were girls were subjected to brutal forms of discipline and control, unrelenting routine and hard labour. Every girl's movement, action and word was directed by officers with girls kept on silence, their 'eyes to the floor' and 6ft apart at all times. All communication was controlled through a procedure of 'Report to You'.
No visitors, no mail, no schooling, no privacy with hard labour and activities known as 'practices' throughout the day. Girls were kept busy laying and breaking up concrete paths, digging, scrubbing, cleaning, painting and other repetitive back breaking tasks. Hay was intended to break a girls spirit and for most it did - leaving many with severe post traumatic stress disorder and other physical and mental health problems. Hay Girls Institution closed 30 June 1974.
A State Secret
Hay Girls Reunion
In March 2007 the first official reunion of the Hay Girls Institution was held with dozens of former Hay Girls and their families travelling from all over Australia to attend the event. At the reunion women spoke of their horrific experiences in this institution to hundreds of local people attending the event. A healing service and unveiling of a memorial plaque by Senator Andrew Murray was held on the following day.
'Let no child walk this path again'
Hay Gaol is now on the State Heritage List.