MAG LAUNDRIES webheading by Rachael Romero 17x22

in Magdalene Laundries, Australia 

What the Good Shepherd Sisters fail to acknowledge

Blood sisters by Rachael Romero, 2011


Rachael Romero -Thursday, 20 June 2013





Laundry List

Laundry packing slip form from The Pines, one of nine  Good Shepherd Magdalene Laundries in Australia that Romero saved


GoodShepherdConven_1931_SLQ GoodShepLaundry_opening_1932_5_2_BC_P12 Picture 3

Suicide in Good Shepherd Convent

Thursday April 16 1989

2. First Night, The Pines, by Rachael Romero

  • Abbotsford, Convent of the Good Shepherd commercial laundry provided employment for… girls and women and generated income for the Convent.” 1863 -1975 The Convent was able to care for up to 1,000 and was self-sufficient through its farming, Industrial School and laundry activities.

  • Mt. Saint Canice, Convent of the Good Shepherd, Sandy Bay, Hobart. Tasmania “a commercial laundry generated income for the Convent.” Boiler Fire in Laundry 1974 , 3 peple were killed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ewqaoKUjDU

  • Leederville,  Convent of the Good Shepherd, Perth WA in 1903.

  • St Aidens, Albert Park Convent - on Port Phillip Bay, Bendigo NSW. First Opened in 1905 as South Melbourne Convent. A commercial laundry generated income for the Convent.

  • Ashfield,  Sydney during 1913 expanded to Toongabbie (1948—1961) LAUNDRY Convent probe." The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954) 1 Sep 1954: 1. Web. 2 Jul 2013 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50618269.

  • Mitchelton Convent of the Good Shepherd in Brisbane 1931

  • ALBERT PARK South Melbourne Convent 1892-1974 industrial laundry

  • Convent of the Good Shepherd "The Pines" (1941 - 1974)  under the control of the   Good Shepherd sisters and the Children's Welfare and Public Relief Board and its successors, North Plympton SA, a commercial laundry provided employment … and generated income for the Convent.”

  • Oakleigh, Convent of the Good Shepherd, 1883-  a Reformatory School for adolescents in South East Melbourne, Victoria (Contemplative Magdalenes? relocated to Boronia in Melbourne in 1938 )

ENSLAVED just title



Beginning to give voice to Great Silence  

by Rachael Romero, Adelaide. September, 2014


The exhibit of my work ENSLAVED in a Magdalene Laundry, Adelaide is just a part of the mobilization of the 500,000 children imprisoned with hard labour in the Twentieth Century Australia--under the guise of so-called 'care.'


“The source of our collective suffering,“ according to Gaston Bauchelaud, “lies in the fact that we hesitate to speak. It comes from the silence we accumulate within us.”


I have lived my life feeling branded, isolated, exiled, other.

Though the legacy of my enslavement in The Pines cycled through my life—always there in my quick-to-startle reactions, my wariness of authority, my “yea tho’ I walk the road alone” feeling that pervaded, despite my intimate friendships and interactions with others.


There were three waves of revelation when my experience in a Magdalene Laundry in Adelaide came flooding back like a tide.

—When I was nineteen and paused in my world travels in

New York City.

—When my father died in 2002 and I got my hands on the many documents surrounding my extra-judicial incarceration. This led to my facing down my own Post Traumatic Stress through a three year process of total immersion in which I repeatedly confronted my worst horrors triggered by the archival photos and family film footage I had obtained while at the same time I simultaneously taught myself to make the film:In the Shadow of Eden.


By taking charge of my own narrative I re-empowered myself.


—But it was not until 2009 when my beloved husband lay dying that I felt my rising rage swerve straight back to that cauterizing experience . I channelled the pain at the loss of my sweetie into making a website seeking others in the world who had been in the Magdalene Laundries. Soon I was contacted by many survivors both in Australia and the diaspora. A choreographer, sociologists and scholars around the globe studying the phenomena contacted me. I was interviewed for books and papers and asked to lend my documentation and art to The Australian National Museum for the exhibit INSIDE: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions. I realized that the only images extant were the fake propaganda photoes of buildings or happy scenes staged to show the girls and their jailers “at play”. These images masked the lives of forced labor and deprivation we led. So I began painting the experiences seared into my fourteen-year-old psyche. To my surprise they came out raw and crudely rendered— as if I was fourteen again—like memories of other concentration camp survivors.


So now, when I say “The Mangle,” you will see the mammoth thundering machine so aptly named because it pressed tablecloths for the Hotel South and crushed the odd hand without discrimination. The authorities did not oversee health, safety or dietary standards in Catholic Institutions. There were sweetheart arrangements between Church-State and Welfare. We were scolded for lying when we told the truth about the dangerous conditions. There were no fire escapes or adequate education in anything but low self esteem and drudgery.


The good people of Adelaide looked the other way. We must have been bad, difficult, uncontrollable. In fact we were unprotected with no-one to defend us. Was it a crime to be a young, beautiful and bold girl? Apparently.


In further research I learned that these commercial laundries built on the backs of child labor were established by several religious orders over 150 years in 67 countries. Not just in Ireland—there were nine in Australia, more in India, Africa, Europe and North America. All were organized around a single schedule, a template built on a hierarchy of power-work-silence-prayer—and an idea of cleansing us of our rotten sin—for the after-life. Like all enslavement and forced labor—this was a mechanism to break the spirit and inculcate set beliefs. But even more pernicious —it was based on the belief that the church was saving the community at large from the infection of vulnerable girls. This was the idea that fallen (a term they used for us) meant tainted=contagious. By isolating us, the church was purportedly providing a community service. Those in authority apparently concurred.


Adelaide’s infamous laundry, The Pines, closed in 1974. These days there is a parking lot where the laundry stood. That cold cement quadrangle has been ripped up and made into a lovely garden. The heavily barred dormitory block has been demolished. All is erased but my copious documentation and other survivors testimony. The Good Shepherd Order will not release their notebooks of daily doings.


The wounded inmates? We are among you, unsupported, isolated, many afraid to be counted, haunted by your potential disregard, afraid of discrimination. Some of us educated ourselves, others remain disenfranchised or have died…I so ask you: Who contaminated whom?*


In the exhibit ENSLAVED in a Magdalene Laundry, Adelaide, was exhibited at the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery in the Bob Hawke Ministerial Centre, 3rd Level, 55 North Terrace, at the South Australian University, Adelaide—September October 3, 2014. This exhibit is just a part of the story of over half a million children locked behind closed doors in twentieth century Australia and forced to work without love or money or decent health care. The Ignored Australians--so-called Forgotten


As it has been said: The past is never past nor is it ever dead. We must look it in the face and ask our selves why we choose to look away when we see evident suffering today.


What can we do?


Why are children still being raped and not listened to, their parents told they are “paranoid?” Why does the Adelaide Police Commissioner looking into these questions have the audacity to use the code name HARLEM for the current Royal Inquiry into sexual abuse? (Personally, I have worked in Harlem for thirty years and have never been violated there. As a teen in “little old Adelaide” I was repeatedly raped, beaten and mauled with no-one coming to my aide. )

We don’t need red herring code names that betray undercurrents of racism and promote the fear of difference.


Fear born of ignorance is not helpful.


Welcome the disenfranchised to this huge land—not send them back indiscriminately to their deaths. Real human rights are made up of small day-to-day kindnesses.


                                                                              --Rachael Romero, 2014


 *the organization that ran the Australian Magdalene Laundries now called Good Shepherd Australia, New Zealand had a budget of

$114, 743, 740 from July 2011-June 2012 (according to their Annual Reports.) You’d think they might have a care for the havoc their predecessors have wreacked and come forward with pensions for the slave workers they wounded, now elderly, discarded. Or is the heart on their new logo as empty as their hands?                                                      


The First Night, the Pines, 1967 by Rachael Romero

(There were no fire escapes, the doors and windows were barred and locked)

A local spin on the laundries of shame   

By Larry Schwartz THE AGE  

April 27 2003 http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/04/26/1051316051211.html



A Party? Why not an Apology?

Former residents to boycott nuns' reunion    

Carolyn Webb June 21, 2013




The Brisbane Courier, 11th December, 1931 - page 4


ENSLAVED web Final Evite FULL Mangle dates times Magdalene Laundry Packing Room72by Rachael Romero

The Packing Room 1, Rachael Romero 2011

16. Magdalene Laundry, Convent of the Good Shepher

washed up and crucified by Rachael Romero 2011

blood sisters by rachael romero 1. b disinfectant bath_2

Anticeptic Bath by Rachael Romero, 2011

Quadrangle station of cross RRomero m

Stations of the Cross, The fall by Rachael Romero

Pines girls 72x24