The Hay Institution for Girls was proclaimed in the old Hay Gaol on 28th July 1961 as a 'school for the reception, detention, maintenance, discipline, education and training of children and young persons committed to such institution to be known as Institution for Girls, Hay'. Its establishment came after a series of riots that had taken place at the Parramatta Girls Home in early 1961. The girls sent from Hay from Parramatta were considered 'incorrigible'.
The first girls were transferred from Parramatta in September 1961. Transfers occurred at night with girls escorted by officers on the long train journey to Narrandera, then placed in a lockup van. Girls were usually sedated with largactil or valium during the journey. On arrival they were issued with institutional clothes, had their hair cropped short and were locked in a 'scrubbing' cell, usually for a period of 10 days. After this they were placed in another cell, known as 'cabins', for the remainder of their stay. Each cell was furnished with a single bad, thin mattress, a blanket, sheets, pillow, Bible and a night can.
Discipline at Hay was brutal, with girls' every movement, action and word controlled and directed by officers. The daily routine was designed to humiliate and control. All communication occurred via a reporting procedure, where girls remained silent, standing six feet apart, with 'eyes to the floor'. Girls had no privacy and did not receive visitors, schooling or mail.
Education and training amounting to hard labour: smashing concrete paths; digging; scrubbing; hand sewing leather, and other repetitive tasks, interspersed with physical exercises known as 'practices'.
Parragirls founder Bonney Djuric said in 2012:
'Hay was intended to break a girl's spirit and for most it did - leaving many with severe post traumatic stress disorder and other physical and mental health problems.'
Hay Girls Institution closed on 30th June 1974, due to community concerns about the treatment of girls and after protests by leaders of Sydney women's movement.
Hay's existence was what ABC TV journalist Sharon O'Neill has described as a state secret, known to very few until 2004, when former inmate Christina Green returned to the site in the company of the ABC. The first reunion of the Hay Girls Institution took place on the 3- 4 March 2007 at which time a memorial plaque with the words 'Let no child walk this path again' was placed in the grounds.
Records of Hay Institution are part of Parramatta Training School for Girls records.
18 February 2019
Cite this: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/nsw/NE01033
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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