Daruk was established at South Windsor in 1960 by the Department of Community Services as an annexe to Mount Penang Training School for Boys (Gosford Farm Home). It was a training school for juvenile offenders who were of school age. Some children who were committed to institutions in the Australian Capital Territory were sent to Daruk. Daruk closed in early 1985.
The 1960 Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department described the new facility at Daruk as being something of a half-way institution between its institutions at Mittagong, which by that time housed many state wards with physical and intellectual disabilities, and Mount Penang, which remained a more serious facility for 'delinquents'.
Daruk will be a "house" institution, a type lying midway between the dormitory kind represented by Mount Penang and the cottage type such as Mittagong, and its population will be intermediate: there will be four houses each accommodating 50 boys, most of whom will be either 14 or 15 years old.
The 550 acre site for Daruk was acquired from the Forestry Commission. Daruk was opened by the Minister for Community Services on 18 May 1960, and its official opening was on 4 November that year.
Daruk's enrolment met capacity almost immediately after it opened. According to CLAN, the institution held almost 200 boys and the premises consisted of three classrooms, two metalwork rooms, two woodwork rooms, two craft rooms, a science room and a library.
The 1961 Annual Report of the Child Welfare Department describes the physical facilities and houses:
The inmates are accommodated in four "houses" bearing names from the Daruk tribe, viz., Bunda, Daru, Kumu and Wolara. These "houses" are an innovation in that they contain their own recreation room and shower sections as well as a dormitory and locker section and the usual conveniencs.
Each of the 4 houses accommodated 50 boys, most of whom were 14 to 16 years old, according to Boyle (1996).
The 1962 Annual Report noted that 75 per cent of the boys in the institution attended the internal school, with boys in the third year class encouraged to sit the Intermediate or Entrance Examination Certificates.
Brian Boyle's 'The Child Welfare Schools' (1996) includes the recollections of Alex Johnston, a former Education Officer, which give a sense of the regimentation at Daruk, for the boys and the staff:
'I was put in charge of the senior class initially (the bright boys) … We had to collect our class groups from the Institution's Assembly area and march them to school. They were marched in three deep rows even when being taken to the toilet at recess times ...
'On several occasions while EOs [education officers] were line up waiting to sign the Attendance Book at 7.30 am, the Superintendent pushed into the line exactly at 7.30 and ruled a red line across the page. Those who signed under the red line were deemed to be late, even though they were waiting to sign, and were required to apply for 1/4 days recreation leave. I, fortunately, had only twelve months at Daruk' (pp.436-437)
...there have been several cases of lads who have been so unstable and disturbed that mental hospital treatment could have been recommended, but who have responded particularly well to sedation and treatment under the psychiatrist's guidance.
All new boys except those over 15 were initially placed in school classes according to ability - emphasis was on remedial work and manual training work. A few boys worked through the Correspondence School in preparation for the Intermediate Certificate or courses such as ticket writing and book keeping. Before the Unit's own swimming pool was built in 1965, swimming was done at the RAAF base at Richmond, which was quite near. The RAAF even provided a physical training instructor for two afternoons a week for sport and gymnastics. Good relations were maintained with other sections of the community - a bookcase made from old cedar shelves originally hand sawn by early convicts was made by the boys for Windsor court House. At an Open Day there was a large attendance of local people; visiting days were extended to two per month (Boyle, p.437).
State Records New South Wales notes that Daruk had its own radio station, 2DA, and the boys used to exchange programmes with the boys at Yawarra at Kurri Kurri, who had their own radio station called 2YA. The pre-recorded radio programs included talent quests, quiz games, sporting commentaries, news items and request numbers (Boyle, p.440). The boys also produced a school magazine, 'Talkabout'.
The Friends of Daruk Association was formed in March 1970, 'in an endeavour to match the functions of Parents' and Citizens' Association', according to Boyle. The Association pressed the Minister for information about the educational program at Daruk. Former Education Officer Alex Johnston recalled the difficulty in delivering innovative education programs at Daruk. Education Officers spent much of their time on administration of the institution, and the programs they tried to deliver in the school 'were either undermined or taken credit for by the managers and administrative staff of the Institutions and Establishments' (Boyle, p.438).
Daruk had a Privilege Cottage in what was the old laundry, with room for 12 boys. This group were taken camping at weekends, which involved pitching tents at the far end of the Daruk grounds, and cooking their own meals (Boyle, p.441).
Daruk school was transferred to the Education Department in 1981. According to Boyle, in 1983 there were 61 boys in Daruk school, one boy at Windsor High School, and another 65 in 'work groups', undertaking special projects within Daruk or in the local community. The school closed at the end of 1984.
Stories of abuse in Daruk emerged in 2014 when former residents told their stories to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. In March 2018, the television program 60 Minutes aired a story ('Home of Horror') in which former residents told of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. One man told of how he was put in isolation in a cell known as 'The Boob' after he reported the abuse.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Guy Armstrong opens up about child abuse', Newcastle Herald, 5 February 2014, http://www.theherald.com.au/story/2066425/guy-armstrong-opens-up-about-child-abuse/; Boyle, Brian, The Child Welfare Schools: Recollections of these unique schools and the men and women who taught in them often under considerable difficulty, unpublished typescript, (618 pp. : ill., ports ; 32 cm), 1996; Child Welfare Department, Annual Report: Child Welfare Department of New South Wales, New South Wales government, 1923-1970. Also available at https://www.opengov.nsw.gov.au/main; Homes and Orphanages Listings, Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN), https://web.archive.org/web/20180421161802/http://www.clan.org.au/homes/all/; 'Mount Penang Juvenile Justice Centre', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/486; Parry, Naomi, 'Transfer of children from Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Norfolk Island to New South Wales (1941 - 1986)', in Find & Connect web resource, Find & Connect web resource project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2013, http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/act/biogs/AE00131b.htm; 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, http://nma.gov.au/blogs/inside/files/2011/02/connectkin_guide1.pdf; 'Yawarra Training School for Boys', in State Records Authority of New South Wales website, State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority of NSW 2016, https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/agency/569; Email from State Records NSW, 30 November 2015, held in the project files at the University of Melbourne eScholarship Research Centre.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry and Liam Hogan
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 14 March 2018