Kamballa was formed as a response to public concern about the government's management of Parramatta Girls' Training School. As Bonney Djuric has written, from the early 1970s members of Sydney's women's movement, including the legendary feminist Bessie Guthrie, had protested about the conditions at Parramatta and its annexe, Hay Institution for Girls, and the pressure had contributed to the government's decision to amend the Child Welfare Act to, as Child Welfare Minister Richard Healey said at the time, 'to reflect the most positive attitudes of a modern community towards its minors and get rid of any Dickensian overtones.' [Abandon All Hope]
According to Archives Investigator, on 7 March 1975 the former Parramatta Girl's Training Home was proclaimed, under the Child Welfare Act, 1939 as 'a school for the reception, detention, maintenance, discipline, education and training of children and young persons committed to an institution to be known as "Kamballa".'
Kamballa opened on 31 October 1974 and took in its first girls in November of that year. One former resident wrote to Find & Connect to inform us that she was the first girl admitted to Kamballa, she was transferred from Reiby Training Centre on 19 November 1974. Kamballa was a unit designed to cater for the needs of girls found unsuitable for other training schools. The emphasis of the institution was to provide extensive counselling and vocational and educational opportunities to facilitate individual development. Although it was in the 'old home' building, the atmosphere was much more relaxed, there were fewer girls and the 'training features' like laundry work, scrubbing and 'standing out' that had made life so difficult for girls at Parramatta were gone. Kamballa shared a new school building with Taldree, but there was no mixing of the children from the two institutions.
In May-June 1980 Kamballa's former premises, the main building of Parramatta Girl's Training School, were transferred to the Department of Corrective Services for conversion to the Norma Parker Centre. Kamballa moved to adjacent premises formerly occupied by the Taldree Remand Centre for boys. Kamballa closed as a residential facility in 1983. The buildings remained a Department of Community Services administrative centre until 2009.
The Girls Training School Precinct, 1 Fleet St, Parramatta, NSW, Australia has been listed on the Register of the National Estate since 21 March 1978.
09 July 2020
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE00416
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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