The Kalimna Vocational Centre for Girls, in Toowong, opened in December 1962. Run by the Salvation Army, it was on the site of the former Salvation Army Girls' Home, Toowong (which was demolished in around 1962). It closed 29 October 1977.
In the 1960s, Kalimna was one of 3 denominational (ie, non-government) institutions in Queensland for the reception of 'delinquent girls', who were sometimes referred to as 'incorrigible'.
A former staff member from Kalimna gave evidence to the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, stating that the time period a girl would stay at Kalimna was about 9 to 12 months. This period was determined at the discretion of the institution, not the court. The staff member said:
There was no order of the Court saying how long [the girls] would be incarcerated for. It was purely, as I said, at the discretion of the Army and I don't think there was any input or I don't think the Department had very much influence in determining when a child would be released. Therefore the Department did not have the discretion to release the girls, and this attitude seemed to be tolerated by the Department (p.105).
Evidence was given to the Commission of Inquiry about the use of solitary confinement at Kalimna, which was known as 'pop' to the girls who lived there. Kalimna had 3 solitary confinement rooms located near the main building. The 1999 report stated that 'It would apepar that at Kalimna some girls were required to spend significant periods in solitary confinement, usually for offences such as absconding or being violent' (p.145).
The report noted that 'the difficulty of confirming or discounting the claims of former residents has been compounded by the paucity of surviving records held by the Salvation Army administration (p.146).
The report also stated that until the 1970s, residents of Kalimna received no formal education, as most girls were above school leaving age. It did introduce a full-time education program in the early 1970s. The Education Department closed the school facility in September 1977, prompting the closure of the Kalimna institution a month later (p.148).
Reflecting on the institutions for juvenile offending girls, the 1999 report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions concluded:
For much of their histories, the denominational training schools were large, impersonal institutions where the labour demanded of the girls was both arduous and monotonous, and not likely to significantly enhance their future employment prospects, and where solitary confinement was used to discipline recalcitrant inmates. The emphasis was on punishment, with little or no effort made to assist in the rehabilitation of the girls. However, these were institutions that received little government funding, which made it virtually impossible to implement a more individually focused treatment program or to employ staff more attuned to the problems and sensitivities of the girls. These institutions were components of a wider system that survived on a limited budget, and had done so for many years, and they quickly became redundant as essential improvements were made to that system in the 1970s. It is not surprising that many of the residents believed they were damaged by their experiences at these institutions (pp.148-149).
1907 - 1956 Industrial School for Girls, Toowong
1956 - c. 1961 Salvation Army Girls' Home, Toowong
1962 - 1977 Kalimna Vocational Centre for Girls
Sources used to compile this entry: Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Queensland. Department of Families, Youth and Community Care, Brisbane, 1999. pp.142-149.; Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. p.57..
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth
Created: 14 June 2011, Last modified: 17 March 2015