Ormond, Thornleigh, also known as Thornleigh Training School for Girls and Thornleigh Girls' Home, was established in Duffy Avenue at Thornleigh in 1946 by the Child Welfare Department. It was an annexe to the Parramatta Girls Training School, and housed Parramatta girls who were defined as being 'privileged': they were at the end of their sentences and had 'responded well to their training'. Some children were transferred from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and placed in this Home. Ormond became Ormond Training School in 1962. The Duffy Avenue area later became known as Westleigh.
Ormond House was originally intended to replace the Girls Training School at Parramatta. The Child Welfare Department's 1960 Annual Report described extensive plans that were developed in the post-war period for the Ormond House site:
In 1945 a plan was drawn up to develop a new institution to replace the girls' training school, Parramatta. The plan provided for a refractory block, a privilege section, cottages for the segregation of young from older detainees, an admission block and a hospital for venereal disease cases. The plan was not implemented however, except for the privilege establishment, which was duly built, named Thornleigh, and passed into the Department's service in 1946. The original plan was inspired by large wartime populations at Parramatta, a difficult type of girl and a high incidence of venereal disease; the facilities envisaged for the treatment of this disease were very extensive. The widespread use of antibiotics in VD treatment after the war, however, cancelled the need for such elaborate facilities. Smaller populations at Parramatta permitted the Department to concentrate on other more urgent accommodation needs.
As the feared wartime outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases did not eventuate, the Child Welfare Department made Ormond an annexe to the Parramatta Girls Home. Girls who were defined as 'better' behaved could be segregated from those seen as bad influences.
Ormond was opened on 8 October 1946. It provided two cottage like facilities which could accommodate up to 28 girls who had 'proven their ability to conform to the discipline of socially acceptable patterns of behaviour'. It was an 'open' institution devoid of the usual prison like constraints and was managed by a Matron. The programme emphasised cultural pursuits. The maximum length of stay was set at three months but, as was the case at Parramatta, was determined by the Superintendent.
A 16mm colour film held by the State Library of New South Wales, Towards a Clearer Sky, was made in 1959 by the Child Welfare Department to promote Ormond. It shows scenes throughout the Ormond school and promotes the institution by telling the story of 'Valerie', a girl transferred to the school, showing her learning to sew, cook, clean, and work outside the home. She is played by an actor.
1946 - 1962 Ormond, Thornleigh
1962 - 1980 Ormond Training School
Sources used to compile this entry: Duffy Avenue, Westleigh Local Environmental Study and Masterplan, The Shire of Hornsby, 20 May 1998; Barnet, Les: Whitchurch, Peter, Towards a Clearer Sky, 1 film reel (13 min.) : sd., col. ; 16 mm. A copy of this film is at the State Library of New South Wales., New South Wales Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare, 1959; 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; Djuric, Bonney, Abandon All Hope: a history of Parramatta Industrial School, Chargan, Georges Terrace, 2008, 238 pp; '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; McLean, Donald, Children In Need: An account of the administration and functions of the Child Welfare Department, New South Wales, Australia: with an examination of the principles involved in helping deprived and wayward children, Government Printer, Sydney, 1955, 173 pp; 'Westleigh, New South Wales', in Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westleigh,_New_South_Wales.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 14 December 2011, Last modified: 14 July 2023