Call for memorial at Thurgoona St John's Orphanage site

THE author of a new book on St John’s Orp­hanage at Thurgoona says the site should have a memorial noting that more than 2000 destitute or abandoned girls lived at the site over a period of almost a century.

Howard Jones said yesterday that a

memorial garden with plaque, as recommended by the “Forgotten Australians” Senate inquiry into children’s homes in 2005, would at least recognise the existence of a children’s home.

“It would allow the former girls and their children and grandchildren to visit the site and know that they haven’t been completely forgotten,” Jones, a Border Mail journalist, said.

“Very few people living at Thurgoona new estates today seem to know anything about the orphanage, which became Guadalupe House for many years and is now being converted to group homes by the Sisters of

Mercy.”

His book, Orphanage Survivors, is the first publication to record a strict environment in which the Sisters of Mercy cared for girls over periods from 1882 to 1978.

“The history of the place has been almost forgotten because of an almost complete absence of records and because the girls who went there didn’t want to talk much about their experiences,” he said.

Jones collected about 30 photographs but said he could find no official photographs or access the sparse records rel­ated to the orphanage.

Jones found some group pictures in The Border Mail archives from the 1950s because the newspaper had sent a photographer there.

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