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New South Wales - Publications Details

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Arnold, Ann
Exposed to Moral Danger
ABC Radio National Hindsight, 19 July 2009

In our very recent history, the 1960s and early 70s, teenage girls were locked in cells in an old jail in the town of Hay, in south western NSW.

Deemed troublemakers at the Parramatta Girls Home in western Sydney, they were subjected to a militaristic regime of state-sanctioned harsh discipline. Behind high walls, and a long way from the Sydney-based authorities, many abuses occurred over the years.

Because of the secrecy and high security surrounding the Hay Institution for Girls, many people in the Hay area did not know there were girls in the jail, or if they did, knew little about them.

The girls sent to Hay are now mostly in their 50s. In 2009 the first ever reunion of former 'Hay girls' was held at the jail, which is now a museum. It became a powerful reconciliation for both the women and the people of Hay.

This is the story of an institution, told by the women who were sent there, women who worked there as officers, local people who remember it, and the state government representatives of the day.

It shows how a group of adolescent girls, most of whom had committed no criminal offence but who were categorised as 'neglected' or 'exposed to moral danger', could be further abandoned and abused in the name of welfare.

This program was Highly Commended in the Radio category of the 2008 Human Rights Commission Awards.



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