• Event

Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions


In August 1998 in Queensland, the Minister for Families, Youth and Community Care established a Commission of Inquiry to examine whether there had been any abuse, mistreatment or neglect of children in Queensland institutions. This Inquiry is widely known as the Forde Inquiry, in reference to the Chairperson, Leneen Forde. In May 1999, the Committee presented its report. It found numerous incidents of unsafe, improper and illegal treatment of children in Queensland institutions, including cases of sexual, physical, emotional and systems abuse. The Queensland government made its response to the recommendations of the Inquiry in August 1999. The government, in collaboration with religious authorities, issued a joint formal statement of apology in 1999.

The Queensland Government commissioned the Forde Inquiry to investigate the treatment of children in licensed government and non-government institutions in Queensland. The inquiry covered 159 institutions from 1911 to 1999, excluding foster care and institutions providing care for children with disabilities or those suffering from acute or chronic health problems.

The inquiry gathered evidence in a number of ways. Research was commissioned into a broad range of areas relevant to the inquiry. It received 151 written submissions from former residents and staff of children’s institutions, as well as evidence from professional and academic experts. The commission held public hearings about allegations of handcuffing of juvenile offenders at John Oxley Youth Detention Centre in 1989.

Commissioners and staff visited facilities in current use and also inspected institutions that were no longer operating (including Silky Oaks Haven for Children, Nazareth House, St Joseph’s Home, Neerkol and Kalimna Vocational Centre for Girls), so that the inquiry staff had ‘the opportunity to interpret evidence in a more meaningful way’.

The inquiry found abuse had occurred and its report made 42 recommendations relating to contemporary child protection practices, youth justice and redress of past abuse.

The Report stated the commission of inquiry was concerned largely with the period between 1930 and 1980, and that most of its evidence was drawn from the following institutions:

Alkira, Salvation Army Home for Boys in Indooroopilly; W.R. Black Home in Chelmer; Blackheath Home, in Oxley; BoysTown, in Beaudesert; Carramar Children’s Home and Carramar Receiving and Assessment Centre, in Townsville; Enoggera Boys’ Home; Horton House in Toowoomba; Good Shepherd Home for Girls (later known as the Mt Maria Re-education Centre) in Mitchelton; Holy Cross Home in Wooloowin; John Oxley Youth Detention Centre in Wacol; Margaret Marr Memorial Home for Boys in Wynnum; Nazareth House in Wynnum North; Riverview Training Farm; Silky Oaks Haven for Children in Manly West, St Vincent’s Home, Nudgee; St Joseph’s Home, Neerkol; Tufnell Home in Nundah; Warilda Children’s Home (previously the Diamantina Receiving Home) in Wooloowin; Westbrook Farm School and Training Centre; and the Wilson Youth Hospital in Windsor.

Following the release of the report, the Queensland government and representatives of six major churches made the Apology to those harmed in Queensland institutions during their childhood.

From 2007 to 2010, there was a Redress Scheme in Queensland, in response to recommendations in the commission’s report.


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