Parramatta Girls Home Memorial
In this place we remember the children who were abused.

Located in front of the main building of Parramatta Girls Home, this memorial is a response by the NSW Government to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to recognize and pay tribute to people who were abused as children at Parramatta Girls’ Home.

Dedicated on 6 April 2022, the interior sandstone walls of the memorial are inscribed with graffiti made by former residents when in the institution. Once hidden from public view, this graffiti recognises friendships formed between girls, and solidarity in defiance of authority and control once exercised over them expressed in the acronym ILWA (I Love Worship Always) or TID (Till I Die). The figure of a girl carved into each end of the structure embodies the need to return to the site to find identity once rendered anonymous as an institutional number and memories recalled testify to the institutional experience.

Formed in a semicircular shape with a bronze plaque on which the words Never Again appear, the memorial structure is surrounded by a garden planted with native species including golden wattle and red bottle brush, emblematic of Australians who spent time in institutional or out-of-home care as children known today as the Forgotten Australians.

The design concept evolved from consultation with former residents in collaboration with interpretive design specialists Trigger in the shared expression of Never Again to create a protected reflection space of recognition, empowerment, and healing. 

About the Royal Commission

On 12 November 2012, the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced that she would recommend to the Governor General that a royal commission be appointed to inquire into institutional responses to child abuse. The work of the Royal Commission fully commenced in late February 2013 with the final report to the Governor General on 15 December 2017.
Report of Case Study No.7 Child sexual abuse at the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution for Girls Hay was issued in October 2014.

Many of the women who gave evidence described a harsh system of discipline and control at Parramatta Girls. Some of the rules included not speaking unless spoken to, not turning over in bed and only going to the toilet at certain times of day. Girls often faced severe punishments for disobedience. They might be deprived of food or told to scrub floors. But the worst punishment at Parramatta Girls was being sent to an isolation cell. Some witnesses revealed that they were physically and sexually abused while in isolation. They were sometimes later transferred to the Hay Institution.

In this system of discipline and control, there was no privacy for inmates. They were watched on the toilet and in the shower, and regularly had to undergo invasive medical examinations and embarrassing body checks. Some were drugged. Many faced psychological abuse as well, and witnesses claimed that officers called them nobodies, sluts and liars. Inmates resorted to sticking pins into their bodies to show they were tough, to offset the pain of the abuse or to kill themselves.

Numerous male staff, and occasionally other girls, were said to have physically and sexually abused the inmates at both institutions. Most of the alleged perpetrators were never reported or investigated. Others resigned or were dismissed after inquiries into their conduct. Historically, none of these men was ever charged with a criminal offence. In 2020 two former male staff from the Parramatta Girls Home were sentenced for a series of rapes and assaults that were initially brought to light at the royal commission into child sex abuse.