This is the first time I’ve addressed these memories publicly and have rarely spoken about them to anyone, including close friends. It is profoundly difficult to remain cohesive. My brain is jerking, swerving and braking; doing anything but actually remember with flow and clarity. I had no idea how powerful an influence the short period I spent in that orphanage had on me for the rest of my life until now. I found The Forgotten Australians History site a few weeks after Kevin Rudd’s ‘Sorry’ speech. All the stories appearing in the media preceding his speech had not touched me personally. I didn’t particularly relate to the stories of others who had suffered abuse in public and religious institutions. Today, however, I do. Apologies cannot give me my life back.





Dear Fran,
Thank you very much for courageously sharing your recollection. Do I have your permission to upload your reflection onto our website?
Thanks again and kind regards,
Dr Adele Chynoweth
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Program (ATSIP) Team
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
Ph: (02) 6208 5088
: 0428 699 905

It was a cold grey building run by cold grey nuns who mercilessly controlled the children in their care. When a child cried, or laughed out of turn, or stumbled over their prayers, or wet their bed, they were punished. Children in the orphanage were not allowed to be children. There was no compassion, no love, no nurturing. The rage I feel when I recall my time there is also cold and grey. How could human beings treat innocent children as if they were criminals? These women were "brides of Christ" dedicated to serving Him through good charitable works?!! I remember one particular nun, Sister M, who looked after the under-5 children. She was cruel. There will never be another way of describing her. It was as if she hated children. She hated their neediness. I hope she went to hell. I hope Christ turned His face from her.
Fran Yule

Dr Adele Chynoweth email asking if she can use my comments on the site

Yes….you may use my comments on the site….re-reading it is a shock….I can’t believe I wrote it….how long has that particular monster been lurking inside me, I wonder!? While I observed the events leading up to Sorry Day I didn’t feel a thing. Only when my older sister reminded me of our time in Goulburn did a slow burn begin happening. I simply couldn’t dismiss it. Thanks for the opportunity to let off the steam.


Dr Chynoweth email asking for a short bio to go with the comment.


In 1947, when I was 3, my sister (5) and I were taken to St Joseph’s Orphanage, Goulburn, by our mother when she learned that she had lost custody of us when our father filed for separation on grounds of adultery. As far as I know she had told the nuns that she was a war widow and was in dire financial straits. She kept our brother, then 18 months old, and left him in the care of one of her brothers. I’m unsure if she had simply made temporary arrangements with the institution but I imagine she would have. To all intents and purposes we had "disappeared" and, apparently, Dad and his family went to the police and filed us as missing. From a legal standpoint Mum had kidnapped us. I have no idea how long we were there. How we were found and was never discussed. There’s a memory of being alone with my father for a few months before I went to live with my father’s parents, and shortly afterwards I started school. It is possible that we were there for almost 18 months. I didn’t see my sister again for 11 years and was reunited with my mother when I turned 16. My brother and I saw each other during school holidays, birthday and Christmas celebrations and later, every fortnight, until I was 10. My sister didn’t reunite with him until he was 16. The time my sister and I spent in the orphanage has left a permanent psychological wound. It is only now, as I write, that I’m finally facing the profound and destructive effect our time in St Joseph’s has had on my life. Thank you for providing a healing outlet for those of us, most with worst case scenarios than mine, who suffered institutionalisation as innocent children.


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