Kamballa was formally established in 1975 by the Department of Youth and Community Services, although it took in its first residents in November 1974. Taldree was established at the same time, in a separate building on the site, which had been Parramatta Girls' Training School. Kamballa was a training school for girls aged 15 to 18 who were defined as having emotional or behavioural problems. In 1980 Taldree closed and Kamballa moved into its building. The old building became Norma Parker Detention Centre. In 1983 Kamballa was converted to offices.
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.
1867 - 1871 Newcastle Industrial School for Females
1871 - 1887 Biloela Industrial School, Cockatoo Island
1887 - 1912 Parramatta Girls Industrial School
1912 - 1946 Parramatta Girls Training Home
1946 - 1974 Parramatta Girls Training School
1974 - 1983 Kamballa
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Dismay after Parramatta's historic Norma Parker Detention Centre orphanage damaged by fire', Parramatta Advertiser, 10 January 2013, http://parramatta-advertiser.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dismay-after-historic-site-damaged-by-fire/; Djuric, Bonney, Abandon All Hope: a history of Parramatta Industrial School, Chargan, Georges Terrace, 2008, 238 pp; 'Girls Training School Precinct, 1 Fleet St, Parramatta, NSW, Australia [Register of the National Estate]', in Australian Heritage Database, Department of the Environment, Australian Government Department of the Environment, http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=3028; Han, Esther, 'Female Factory tales to be told', The Sunday Sun-Herald, 4 November 2012, http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/female-factory-tales-to-be-told-20121103-28qub.html; Judy Rapley, 'Creating a Space: The Life of Bessie Guthrie', ABC Radio National Hindsight, 28 October 2007, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/hindsight/stories/2007/2064266.htm; 'Kamballa', 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/460; 'Minda', 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/575; Parramatta Female Factory Precinct, 2006-, http://www.parragirls.org.au/; Quinn, Peter E, Unenlightened efficiency: the administration of the juvenile correction system in New South Wales 1905-1988, University of Sydney, History, 27 March 2006, http://hdl.handle.net/2123/623; 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 former resident to Find & Connect web resource, 17 March 2019.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 23 March 2011, Last modified: 18 March 2019