St Joseph's Orphanage, Bathurst was operated by the Sisters of Mercy from 1867 to 1975, and cared for girls. It closed in 1975.
After the closure of St Joseph's Orphanage in 1975, some girls were transferred to Croagh Patrick Orphanage in Orange. Mainly these girls were siblings of boys already living at Croagh Patrick.
One former resident of St Joseph's made a submission to the 2004 'Forgotten Australians' inquiry, and wrote about her experiences of cruelty and abuse. She wrote: 'Waking up day after day, year after year, in that orphanage was always a struggle for me' (Submission 114).
In 2010, a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry, Review of Government Compensation Payments, described the abuse that the woman's mother had suffered at St Joseph's Orphanage, Bathurst in the 1940s.
I remember mum … telling us of the St Joseph Catholic Girls Orphanage Bathurst NSW. Mum was placed in St Josephs in 1942 when she was 3 years old until she was 8 years old with her two older sisters … Mum and her sisters told us stories of them scrubbing floors on their knees, being put into solitary confinement and severe punishments with leather belts and cat o 9 tails floggings if they did anything wrong. They often put to work, made wash their own sheets and clothing in the freezing cold, which caused them to suffer frostbite every winter. There often wasn't enough food to eat. According to my aunty … apparently she was horrified at what the Nuns did to my mum because mum's fighting spirit used to anger the Nuns and she was often punished by them just because of it (Submission 126, 2010).
In 2019, the former orphanage is a guest house called Holmhurst. Its website has many photographs of the interior and exterior of the building, and an image of a plaque that reads:
'Holmhurst was known as St Joseph's Orphanage or St Joseph's Girls' Home, from 1915 until 1975. This plaque is dedicated to the memory of the many children and young women who spent part or all of their formative years in this building. They came here, often as small children, suffering from the loss, for whatever reason, of their family. They cried and laughed, worked and played, and eventually moved on as young adults to make life for themselves'.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, 1999, https://cssa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Piece-of-the-Story.pdf; 'Submission 114', in Inquiry into Children in Institutional Care - Submissions received by the committee as at 17/3/05, Parliament of Australia, 2005, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2004-07/inst_care/submissions/sublist; ''How could I stay quiet when they have been so brave?'', Western Advocate, 28 August 2008, https://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/899866/how-could-i-stay-quiet-when-they-have-been-so-brave/undefined/; 'Submission 126.', Submissions received by the [Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs]. Review of Government Compensation Payments., Parliament of Australia, 2010, https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Completed_inquiries/2010-13/govtcomp/submissions; 'Religious Sisters of Mercy Bathurst Congregation', in Catholic Churches of Australia, c 2011, https://web.archive.org/web/20100410120006/http://cathchurch.net:80/religious/foundation/mercybath1.htm; Holmhurst Guest House, Holmhurst Guest House, https://www.holmhurst.com.au/; Thinee, Kristy and Bradford, Tracy, Connecting Kin: Guide to Records, A guide to help people separated from their families search for their records [completed in 1998], New South Wales Department of Community Services, Sydney, New South Wales, 1998, https://clan.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/connectkin_guide.pdf; Email from Lachie Douglas (Lotus Place) on 3 November 2016.
Prepared by: Melissa Downing & Cate O'Neill
Created: 8 March 2011, Last modified: 7 February 2019