Hay Girls Institution
arrival lock up van Hay Girls Institution

Girl arrives at Hay c1973

hay gaol cell block interior

Cell block Hay Girls Institution

Hay Girls Institution cell block

Morning routine Hay Girls Institution 

Muster Hay Girls Institution

Muster Hay Girls Institution 

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. 

Hay Girls Institution 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.

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 remained a state secret known to only a few until 2004 when former inmate Christina Green returned to the site in the company of ABC TV journalist. This was broadcast on ABC Stateline soon after. 

Let no child walk this path again

In 2007 the first official reunion of the Hay Girls Institution was held at which time a memorial plaque was laid inscribed with the words, 'let no child walk this path again'.

Hay Girls Reunion: ABC radio national  Exposed to Moral Danger 

A State Secret: ABC Stateline

Lynwood Hall

In 1939 Lynwood (Linnwood) Hall, Guildford Domestic Science Training School for female wards was established for girls who had not committed an offence. Lynwood Hall was not a punitive institution but for some it proved a stepping stone to Parramatta. It was managed by female staff with Mary Lamond first appointed.

Thornleigh Training School for Girls,Ormond Training School

On the 28 October 1946 Thornleigh Training School for Girls was officially opened as a Privilege Home for girls committed to the Training School for Girls Parramatta. Thornleigh provided two cottage like facilities which could accommodate up to 28 who had ‘proven their ability to conform to the discipline of socially acceptable patterns of behaviour’. Following building additions completed in September 1962 it was renamed Ormond Training School. 

The maximum term was set at 3 months but like Parramatta this was determined by the superintendent. Once operational girls under the age of 13 years together with older  'less sophisticated' girls were sent to Ormond rather than Parramatta.

La Perouse Training School for Girls (1928 - 1939)

La Perouse Girls Training School

On 28 July 1928 a house situated on five acres at Yarra Bay, La Perouse was proclaimed an Industrial School for Girls.  La Perouse was an ‘open’ institution operating as an annex of Parramatta with a matron responsible for day to day operations. It provided accommodation for up to 50 girls considered ‘less depraved and younger whose general conduct and good health justify it’. 

The school used the domestic science curriculum and emphasis was on training girls for domestic duties. La Perouse annex closed in 1939 and was converted into a Truant School for Boys known as Yarra Bay House.

Cootamundra Training Home for Girls (1912 -1969)

Cootamundra Training Home was established by the Aborigines Welfare Board in 1912 as a facility to train young aboriginal girls in the  'habits of cleanliness, obedience and morality necessary if they are to become decent and useful citizens'. Arrangements existed for the transfer of Cootamundra girls to Parramatta for a further period of 'training and correction'. 

 Shaftesbury Reformatory (1878 - 1904)


In 1878 the Shaftesbury Reformatory School replaced the Reformatory School on Biloela. It operated under the control of the Comptroller General of Prisons until 1893 then by the Charitable Institutions Department. In 1901 the State Children's Relief Board took over and the management of Shaftesbury  became the responsibility of the Superintendent at Parramatta.

The site was enclosed within a 3 meter high corrugated tin fence, bars to external windows, dormitories and 3 punishment cells. Shaftesbury returned to the Comproller of Prisons in 1904 and which time the Girls Reformatory was relocated to Ormond House Paddington.

 Biloela Industrial School - Cockatoo Island (1871 - 1887)


Biloela opened in March 1871 following the closure of Newcastle Industrial School. The site featured a number of sandstone buildings with stone floors and  barred windows, which opened onto a compound yard enclosed within a high perimeter wall. Two windowless isolation cells were located under the mess hall and a separate building within the complex was used as a Reformatory for a small number of girls.The institution was managed by a superintendent and matron and usually held up to 120 girls together with  boys under the age of 7 years. 

Girls aged from 18 months to  19 years, were confined to this austere and bleak site where they were barracked together with no more than boards to sleep on and given little supervision. Corporal punishment was frequent and usually triggered rebellious outbursts which were invariably punished with solitary confinement. Conditions and treatment of the girls was well known but nothing was done until the Boarding Out system was introduced in 1881. This eventually led to the availability of government owned Roman Catholic Orphan School at Parramatta in 1886.

Newcastle Industrial School for Females 

In 1867 Australia's first Industrial School for Girls was established in the former convict built Newcastle Military Barracks (now the Watt Street Centre). At the same time an Industrial School for Boys was established on the Nautical Training Ship Sobroan which was initially moored at Garden Island and later moved to moorings on Cockatoo Island.

The Newcastle Industrial School operated until 1871 under the supervision of matron Agnes King and superintendent Clarke and was frequently the site of riots. The resulting public outcry forced its closure and its inmates were relocated to Cockatoo Island.