Magdalene Laundry      Testimony

MAG LAUNDRIES webheading by Rachael Romero 17x22

"The official '  sanitized HISTORY

 

In 1941 the Good Shepherd Sisters were asked by the Archbishop of Adelaide to establish a home in Adelaide for teenage girls with ‘behavioural problems’. The convent was established in a large home in Plympton called The Pines, originally owned by the John Martin family. Set on nineteen acres of grounds, it was remodelled to accommodate up to eighty children. Many of the girls admitted to the home were under the care of the Children’s Welfare Department, although the Good Shepherd sisters did also take in girls who were not wards of the State.

Three sisters originally ran the home. Later they were joined by five more as the number of girls increased. The first seven children to be placed in the home were transferred from the care of the Sistersof St Joseph, when their home for Catholic girls at Parkside closed in January 1943.  In the late 1960s institutional-style dormitory accommodation was replaced by smaller group care. In1974 a decision was taken to phase out residential care due to the increasing complexity of referrals and the limitations of large institutional buildings.

 

*Source: The "official"history drawn from various historical information provided

by the Good Shepherd Sisters, Abbotsford, Victoria.

Drawn from Annual report of the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Board, 1944,p.4

GENERAL (Church sanitized) INFORMATION

Years of operation: 1941-1974

Also known as: The Pines

Home of the Good Shepherd

Run by: The Catholic Church – Order of the Good Shepherd Sisters under the control of the Children’s Welfare and Public Relief Board and its successors

Address: 336 Marion Road, Plympton, South Australia

 

*"Girls committed to this home are accommodated in good wholesome

surroundings, and keen interest is taken in their welfare by the matron

and staff. During the week days the girls are fully occupied with various

phases of laundry work, and their leisure hours are carefully provided

for by means of concerts and other features."

 

One womans account of her time in the laundry at The Pines

Excerpt from In the Shadow of Eden,

by Rachael Romero 2004,

All Rights Reserved

A living man can be enslaved and reduced to the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature which refuses to be classified as an object.   --Camus

This short (still in development) was made with the art and writing of the artist/film maker Rachael Romero who labored, as a girl, in "The Pines," Convent of the Good Shepherd Laundry, South Australia. Romero begins to address the legacy of the effects of these experiences on the lives of the women who endured them.

 

For 150 years, many thousands of young women were incarcerated in Roman Catholic convents around the world where they were forced to do hard labor without pay in commercial laundries  known collectively as Magdalene Laundries.  

The Convent of the Good Shepherd ‘The Pines,' operated as a Magdalene Laundry

Was the Irish State’s recent apology for their complicity with the church in the enslavement of young women for years inside the notorious Magdalene Laundries, (or workhouses for girls, many of which were run by Good Shepherd nuns)--and subsequent calls for restorative justice for survivors---the impetus for the Good Shepherd Sisters in Australia putting a new spin on the history they share with Irish nuns?  By recasting themselves online as seekers of justice they hope you don’t know of their role in more than a century of hidden imprisonment of vulnerable girls in Australia’s infamous Magdalene Laundries. When they say their doctrines promote freedom, do we infer that hypocrisy is their policy as a means to deceive and deflect criticism? Their new website says they’ve commissioned Anti-Slavery Australia to route out “hidden exploitation.”  The Australian Good Shepherd’s historical perpetration of “hidden exploitation” in Magdalene Laundries no doubt informs their expertise. Disclosure: As a recipient of ‘hidden exploitation’ in their hands, so does mine!

 

In 1967, inside the dark-walled Dickensian world they ruled supreme, the Good Shepherd nuns suggested that I might just as well give up school. I was just fourteen. It occurred to me that school was mandatory till age fifteen so I claimed it not only as my right, but also as a way to get a few hours out of forced labor in their thundering, antiquated laundry. How had I come to this dreadful place? Like so many others I’d run away from home following a particularly brutal and life threatening attack by my father, (who had abused me physically, psychologically and sexually for years). Having turned myself into the Welfare I was subsequently dispatched (under the signature of my parents) to endure extra-judicial imprisonment and forced labor in a Magdalene Laundry run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in suburban North Plympton, South Australia (1941-74.) There, I was treated as defiled and forced to work in the laundry under the blind eye of the State of South Australia and the noses of god-fearing South Australian citizens. Out-of-sight-out-of-mind. --R Romero

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