Communities and Justice

Parramatta Girls Home Memorial

The NSW Government has established a memorial for the survivors of abuse at the former Parramatta Girls Home. The memorial is a place of remembrance and reflection for the former residents and their families, as well as the wider community.

Official opening of the memorial

On 6 April 2022, the then Minister for Families and Communities, the Hon Natasha Maclaren-Jones MLC, officially opened the Parramatta Girls Home Memorial. The event was attended by over 100 people, including former residents and their families and the Secretary of the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Mr Michael Tidball.

At the opening, the NSW Government apologised to former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home for the abuse they suffered while in state care. 

Group of people standing with umbrellas at memorial wall
6 April 2022 opening of the Parramatta Girls’ Home Memorial. Photo by Jane Dempster.

About Parramatta Girls Home and Hay Institution

Parramatta Girls Home was an institution run by the NSW Government from 1887 to 1974, for girls who were ‘neglected’, ‘uncontrollable’, or convicted juvenile offenders. It was known as the Parramatta Girls Industrial School and later, the Parramatta Training School for Girls.

During the mid-1900s, residents began rioting over the conditions at the Parramatta Girls Home. They claimed that they were being subjected to harsh discipline, punishment, and sexual abuse.

In 1961, the Government set up a maximum-security annex, the Institution for Girls in Hay (Hay Institution), to house girls considered to be the most rebellious and difficult.

Both the Parramatta Girls Home and the Hay Institution closed in 1974 after a public outcry about their conditions.

Royal Commission public hearing

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) brought public attention to the serious physical, emotional and sexual abuse committed against residents at the Parramatta Girls Home and the Hay Institution.

At a public hearing in October 2014, the Royal Commission heard evidence from 16 former residents of the Parramatta Girls Home, four of whom also spent time at the Hay Institution. Witnesses detailed the harsh conditions they experienced and the lack of support from the NSW Government following their release.

The Royal Commission’s report on the Parramatta Girls Home and the Hay Institution highlighted that, although it was operating under the Child Welfare Act 1939, evidence from former residents suggests they were treated severely and received punishment well beyond what the Act allowed. The physical and sexual abuse at both institutions had devastating effects on former residents, and continues to affect their lives and families. Read the full Report of Case Study No. 7: Child sexual abuse at the Parramatta Training School for Girls and the Institution for Girls in Hay.

Several witnesses spoke about the importance of being able to visit and memorialise the site as a means of sharing the story of their experience. Following the hearing, the NSW Government committed to establish the memorial at the site of the former Parramatta Girls Home.

Design and selection of the memorial

In partnership with Triggerdesign, the NSW Government consulted closely with former residents to design and deliver the memorial to ensure it reflected common themes and values expressed by the former residents. More than 80 former residents participated in consultations about what they would like to see in a memorial, and which memorial design they preferred.

An initial series of consultations was held with former residents to discuss ideas about a suitable memorial. Read the Consultation Summary Report (PDF, 1.1 MB).

In June 2016, former residents were able to comment on the five shortlisted artists’ initial design ideas for a memorial via a workshop and a questionnaire. View a summary of what was heard during the consultation (PDF, 435.8 KB).

The final memorial was selected by an independent panel, which assessed the proposal for artistic merit, technical expertise, feasibility, alignment with budget and, most importantly, interpretation of the themes outlined by former residents during consultations.

His Excellency the Honourable TF Bathurst AC KC FRSN, then Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, made a speech at the design unveiling (PDF, 96.8 KB) in 2017.

The memorial features a remembrance garden and a sandstone structure with graffiti found etched on the walls of the building, which aims to express bonds of friendship and solidarity, overlaid with recollections of the ‘Parra Girls’ who once lived there. 


Parramatta Girls' Home Memorial garden and wall
Photo by Jane Dempster.
Parramatta Girls' Home Memorial wall surrounded by park
Photo by Jane Dempster.
Parramatta Girls' Home Memorial wall and footpath
Photo by Jane Dempster.
Parramatta Girls' Home Memorial wall etchings
Photo by Jane Dempster.
Last updated:

06 Jun 2024