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Queensland - Organisation

Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook (1919 - 1966)

  • Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook

    Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook, 1963, courtesy of Lotus Place, Find & Connect Support Service Queensland.
    Details

From
30 October 1919
To
26 May 1966
Categories
Farm School, Government-run, Home and Reformatory
Alternative Names
  • Westbrook Farm Home for Boys (Also known as)

The Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook was situated 15 kilometres south west of Toowoomba. It was a state-run reformatory for boys under the age of 18 who were confined by a court order. Until 1919, the institution was known as the Westbrook Reformatory for Boys. In 1966 it became known as Westbrook Training Centre.

Details

According to the report of the Forde Inquiry (1999), Westbrook stood at the apex of Queensland's correctional system for boys and was without doubt its most feared institution. 'The Inquiry heard many stories of the threat of being sent to Westbrook being used to great effect by orphanage and industrial school staff' (p.124).

Boys under the age of 18 years were sentenced by various courts to a term of confinement at the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook. The Home was under the supervision of a Superintendent who reported to the Home Secretary, and later to the heads of the relevant department.

The boys received training in farm skills while learning to work the Home's farmland. They learned how to farm, garden and keep stock. Stock was often exhibited at the annual Toowoomba Show. Produce from the farm was sold, and the boys were allowed to keep the profits from their individual gardens.

Regular maintenance work of the buildings at the Home was also undertaken by the boys.

As part of their education and rehabilitation, trustworthy boys could be put out to service in trades, for which they were paid a wage.

In 1961, there was an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the escape of a number of Westbrook inmates on Sunday 14 May 1961. The Commission of Inquiry into the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook (also known as the Schwarten Inquiry), also investigated other matters relating to the conduct of the institution and the welfare of inmates generally. This inquiry resulted in Roy Golledge, Superintendent since 1952, being replaced by Kevin Sullivan, a former prison warder.

In 1998-1999, the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions heard evidence from several former residents of the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook. The major criticism of most witnesses was the institution's excessive discipline and physical abuse.

The Commission's report (1999) also discussed the practice at Westbrook of certain boys being appointed as 'sergeants' to assist in the maintenance of discipline among the other boys. 'In particular, it seems that when boys escaped it was the role of the sergeants to bring them back' (p.130).

Location

1919 - 1966
Location - The Farm Home for Boys was situated at Westbrook. Location: Westbrook

Timeline

 1871 - 1881 Reformatory School for Boys - Hulk Proserpine
       1881 - 1899 Reformatory School for Boys, Lytton
             1899 - 1900 Diamantina Reformatory School for Boys
                   1900 - 1919 Westbrook Reformatory for Boys
                         1919 - 1966 Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook
                               1966 - 1987 Westbrook Training Centre
                                     1987 - 1993 Westbrook Youth Centre
                                           1993 - 1994 Westbrook Youth Detention Centre
                                                 1994 - 2012 Darling Downs Correctional Centre

Related Events

Related Organisations

Publications

Books

  • Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. pp.21-23. Details
  • Fletcher, Al, Brutal: surviving Westbrook Boys' Home/ Al 'Crow' Fletcher's story as told to Cheryl Jorgensen, New Holland, Frenchs Forest NSW, 2006, 189 pp. Details
  • Porter, Warren and Scott, Glyn (editor), A Tormented Life, Warren Porter, Strathalbyn, South Australia, 2010. Details
  • Stokes, William, Westbrook: Surviving Australia's Most Sadistic Reformatory, Pan Macmillan, Sydney, 2010, 432 pp. Details

Newspaper Articles

  • 'Westbrook/ History of the centre', Chronicle, 6 July 1994, p. 11. Details
  • 'Inquiry into mass breakout: Home finally closed in 1994', Toowoomba's Mail, 9 March 2006, p. 7. Details

Reports

  • 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. 45-46, 55-56, 72, 124-140. Details

Online Resources

Photos

The Westbrook Home for Boy's
Title
The Westbrook Home for Boy's
Type
Image
Date
1900? - 1919?

Details

Manager's residence surrounded by hedges at the Westbrook State Farm
Title
Manager's residence surrounded by hedges at the Westbrook State Farm
Type
Image
Date
c. 1913
Source
Picture Queensland, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Details

Westbrook Farm Home
Title
Westbrook Farm Home
Type
Video
Date
1950
Source
National Film and Sound Archive

Details

Superintendent's House, Westbrook, 1960s
Title
Superintendent's House, Westbrook, 1960s
Type
Image
Date
c. 1960 - c. 1970
Source
Lotus Place, Find & Connect Support Service Queensland

Details

Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook
Title
Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook
Type
Image
Date
1963
Source
Lotus Place, Find & Connect Support Service Queensland

Details

Sources used to compile this entry: 'Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook (Agency ID 11374)', in Queensland State Archives website, Queensland Government, 2004 - 2013, http://www.archivessearch.qld.gov.au/Search/AgencyDetails.aspx?AgencyId=11374; 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. 45-46, 55-56, 72, 124-140.; Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. pp.21-23..

Prepared by: Lee Butterworth and Cate O'Neill