‘Parragirls’ leads the reader on a journey back to the now defunct Parramatta Girls Industrial School known today as Parramatta Girls Home. The school operated between 1887 and 1983 as a child-welfare institution for young children and adolescents who were deemed neglected or delinquent by Australia’s welfare system. Built on ancient Darug Aboriginal land the site is of particular significance to the Stolen Generations and Forgotten Australians with more than 20,000 children put in its care. The severe and archaic system of control and reform was one of punishment, deprivation and other abuse.
Edited by artist Lily Hibberd and Bonney Djuric and produced in collaboration with Darug women Leanne Tobin and Jacinta Tobin and others, the book is evidence of what took place there. It documents the Parragirls Memory Project established in 2012 by Djuric which culminated in a collective vision to retell the true histories of Parramatta Girls Home through art and memory, to let her story and those of other former residents be heard, and to transform perceptions of how these institutions are viewed and remembered today.
With every turn of the page these stories confront and solicit our empathy, but here 40-50 years on empowered by their freedom, strength and hope for the future we hear from a number of women who spent their early lives in this place, through the sharing of personal memories, poetry, photographs and creation of artworks including painting, video and performance.