In 1961 the Nicklin government announced plans to turn the vacant wards, Female 2 and 3, into a training school for girls. On the 17 January 1963 Karrala House (Training Home for Girls), was established under the provisions of the State Children's Act 1911 - 1955. The institution came under the jurisdiction of the State Children Department. Dr Richard Aubrey Atherton,Medical Superintendent of the Ipswich Mental Hospital, was appointed Superintendent of Karrala Home in 1963.
The Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland (Forde Inquiry) includes the following brief history of Karrala House:
'In its 1963 Annual Report the Department reported that Karrala House was established 'for the purpose of dealing with the more emotionally disturbed girl and those girls in denominational homes who are incorrigible and are continually upsetting other inmates'. In a 1962 memorandum to the Director of Mental Hygiene, Dr Atherton expressed the following view:
As indicated earlier, I believe that this Home would fulfil the most useful function by taking the more recalcitrant type of girl who is hardened to ordinary handling in a pri
vate or Church Home… Discipline should be as rigid as that in a Prison which would be the place these girls would find themselves but for their age. As Prison is a deterrent to crime so, in my opinion, should the discipline and consequent fear of return to this Home be a deterrent to the girls from returning to an antisocial or asocial form of behaviour.
The government, it seems, was content to allow the churches to carry on the business of reforming wayward girls. Its commitment in respect of Karrala House was limited to providing a quasi-penal institution to facilitate the task of extracting and disciplining 'problem' girls and returning them back to the denominational homes for future care.
A total of 547 girls were to pass through Karrala before its closure in 1971. Most of these girls had not been convicted of a criminal offence, but had committed status offences. In the majority of cases, it appears that sexual behaviour perceived as inappropriate prompted the Children's Court to make an order for care and control. Girls initially admitted to one of the denominational training homes or a similar institution for care, whose behaviour and emotional disturbance was such that they could no longer be cared for in that home, were also admitted to Karrala House.
The institution was eventually closed in October 1971, after the inauguration of the new girls' section at Wilson Youth Hospital. All inmates remaining at Karrala House were transferred to this new unit.'
The Challinor Centre was transformed into the Ipswich Campus of the University of Queensland and opened in 1999. The two buildings that constituted Karrala House, Byron House and Claire House, are preserved as Buildings 3 and 4, Ipswich Campus, University of Queensland. A memorial plaque dedicated to the residents of Karrala House is also situated on the Ipswich Campus.
17 March 2015
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/qld/QE00040
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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