Carramar, also called Carramar Maternity Home and Carramar Hostel, was an Anglican home for unmarried mothers at Turramurra. It was run by the Home Mission Society and at its peak held up to 27 women. Mothers who kept their babies were sent to a post-natal cottage at Berowra. Its staff also arranged adoptions and the Anglican Adoption Agency was set up as part of Carramar. Carramar and the Berowra post-natal cottage closed in 1984.
In 1966 the ABC Four Corners television programme visited Carramar, as part of a story on adoption and footage from the Home was featured in a 2012 Four Corners story about forced adoptions.
One of the Matrons at Carramar was Shirley Jones. She organised adoptions of the babies of unmarried mothers.
Not all women who went to Carramar adopted their babies. The Home Mission Society provided a separate cottage at Berowra that gave post-natal care and support for women who were keeping their babies.
Carramar closed in 1984, at the time Care Force was formed to take over the Home Mission Society's operations. A February 1984 article in the Home Mission Society newsletter Pulse explained the reasons for closing the Home, and the decision to move the Home's operations to group homes in Parramatta. The article describes how the Home worked and mentions the post-natal cottage at Berowra for women who were keeping their babies. It also gives a sense of how society, even in the 1980s, judged unmarried mothers:
After much consideration over many years by the Care Force management committee, it has been decided to sell the "Carramar" Hostel for single pregnant girls at Turramurra. The work will be relocated in smaller houses in the Parramatta area, which is now the centre of Sydney.
Reasons for the decision included the costs of maintaining the very large building on Boomerang Street, Turramurra, and its unsuitability for a small number of girls. Also, many of the girls felt that Turramurra was too expensive for them to shop in, too far from the centre of things and too different from where they came from. They felt conspicuous in the area.
Carramar at Turramurra has given 23 years of most valuable service. In its early years, it was often full, with a substantial waiting list. At times, up to 27 girls were accommodated. In recent years the numbers fluctuated greatly, but averaged about nine girls.
It is planned to replace "Carramar" with two smaller houses; one for younger girls with live-in staff and the other for girls over 20 who will look after themselves with assistance from staff. All staff will be trained in social work and will implement programmes designed to assist the girls, emotionally and spiritually.
The post-natal cottage at Berowra has also been closed, but this important work for girls who are keeping their babies will be recommenced near the other hostels when they begin to operate.
One suitable house has already been located for a new "Carramar" not far from Parramatta, but some opposition from neighbours is being experienced and patience, tact and prayer are required.
Our aim is to provide an accepting, homey, comfortable and caring environment where God's love is shown in a community context with which the majority of girls would be familiar.
After Carramar closed the building was demolished and the site subdivided into lots for two houses.
Sources used to compile this entry: Standing Committee on Social Issues, Releasing the Past: Adoption Practices 1950 - 1998, vol. Report 22, Parliament of New South Wales, Legislative Council, Sydney, 8 December 2000, 245 pp, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/inquiries/2026/Report.PDF; Thompson, Geoff and Hichens, Clay, 'Given or Taken?', ABC Four Corners, ABC Ultimo, 27 February 2012, https://www.abc.net.au/4corners/given-or-taken/3860552; Emails from former residents to Find & Connect web resource, 5 March 2013 and 24 March 2014; Emails from Anglicare Out-of-Home Care Services 26 May 2014.
Prepared by: Naomi Parry
Created: 28 February 2012, Last modified: 19 March 2015