Reports and Stories of the Forgotten Australians throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

Hay Goal was built in 1879 and used as a goal. In 1919 it was used for the Spanish Influenza epidemic then as an Asylum for the insane. 1940 it was taken over by the Australian Army as headquarters for the POW War camp for punishment/detention for Italians and Japanese war crimes.

It closed 14th November, 1945/6 except for Japanese who were held for war crime investigations and suspected witnesses to war crimes. Again it became a goal. It then sat derelict for 14years.

In 1961 it was taken over by the NSW Department of Child Welfare as a Total Security institution for “incorrigible” girls committed to the “care” of Child Welfare Department. It closed in 1974.


© Unpublished Memoirs by Wilma Robb 1961/65”

ROUTINE, 24 hours a day, 7days a week never changing.


Hot as hell in summer, cold as ice in winter, no fans or heaters. No water in our cells. A small table and seat affixed to the cell wall, a barred prison window well above standing height, mattress made out of thick canvas and horse hair and a Gideon bible!


Sleeping always on our right side, they had to see your face If not they hit the door with the bunch of keys, made to get out of bed pull our bed to pieces remake it, stand at the end of our bed at ease till the next 20 minutes surveillance when they swung the peep hole open and turned the light on.

Toilet can 4 pieces of toilet paper, we had to be in site while using our can in our cell “cabin” was the name it was changed to?


Always had to show our soiled sanitary pads. We copped Isolation 24-48 for attitude, eyes up, or going off not handing the pressure. No doors on toilets or showers, officers watching always, Parade daily, stripped, legs parted arms up and out, turn front and back officers checking you.


From 1961- 1965 for the first 10 days, new girls scrubbed the  first cell  with a wire brush and brick till all paint was removed from walls, scrubbing had to be heard at all times never to stop, then repaint for the next new girl. That cell had a metal door locked and viewing hatch also a thick iron grilled door padlocked also. We only came out for drill, shower and bed.


our hair was hacked off in a very short basin cut. There were only ever 10 girls at a time and 14cells.


Eyes to the ground always, 6foot apart, loud voices, always regimental. With no eye contact you learnt from which direction and whose voice we were reporting back too. Every time we were spoken to we acknowledged response come to,



Twice a day more if they chose, always in hundreds, chicken squats, scissors, palms on the ground, push ups ( they put there foot on your back so you had to push onto it some males stood on your fingers.) Run on the spot, Laps around the square block.


10 minutes a day talk always supervised,  still no eye contact ,6 foot apart.

We never new what each other got sent there for. We only talked about the garden or weather. Practices you missed out on you talk for the day and could miss it for days, weeks. We also lost our sweets (bounce) at lunch as punishment.

If we forgot to report back, left turned instead of right turn, broke formation in drill or marching… for 10 minutes we stood and did what ever

- - – with the advice of the Executive Council, established and constitute the premises described - - – as a school for the reception, detention, maintenance, disicipline, education and training of children and young persons committed to such institution, to be known as Institution for Girls, Hay.”

And lies are still in Print

"...In the late 1950’s there was a problem relating to discipline at the Parramatta Girls’ Home in Sydney. Subsequently, in 1961, the Hay Gaol was re-opened as a Total Security Institution for “incorrigible girls committed to the care of the Child Welfare Department”. "The Girls’ Institute, Hay, as it was called, was proclaimed on 26th July, 1961 under the Child Welfare Act of 1939 (as amended) and was gazetted as follows:-

- - – with the advice of the Executive Council, established and constitute the premises described - - – as a school for the reception, detention, maintenance, disicipline, education and training of children and young persons committed to such institution, to be known as “Institution for Girls, Hay.”

also a thick iron grilled door padlocked also. We only came out for drill, shower and bed.

The opening of the Hay Gaol as an Institute for Girls was an experiment by the Child Welfare Department, aimed at taking the glamour out of making trouble. Strict discipline operated, which included cutting hair short, a ban on provocative dress styles, rigid supervision of all talk, radio programs and reading matter. The girls were allowed ten minutes, twice a day to talk between themselves. At all other times they had to be at least six feet apart or in their cells.

Changes made to the premises to accommodate this type of institution were minimal, but included general repairs and reglazing, fixing a seat and bench (measuring 3 feet by 6 inches by 2 feet) to the cell walls, insulation of the cell block, renewing the galvanised iron roofing, removal of eat walk, improving the quality of the floors, installing a bell system and connecting the cell block to the electricity supply.

(Prior to this, electricity had only been connected to the two residences, hospital kitchen and store). These alterations were estimated to cost $10,000. A major part of the work had been carried out prior to the arrival of the first girls in July, 1961. The main task for the first girls was, however, to scrub down all the walls and floors and to paint them.

The cells were then known as "cabins" and contained only the stool and bench fixed to the wall, and a bed. The "ring 'leaders" at Parramatta traveled by car at night the four hundred and fifty miles to Hay. Prior to being moved to Hay, each girl was given psychiatric tests to see if she could stand up to the pressure at Hay. No girl under the age of fifteen years of age was sent t o Hay, and no girl stayed longer than three months. At no time were there more than eleven girls in the institution, and there was a staff of fifteen, which operated on a roster system to supervise the girls at all times..

Each week, the girls were visited by the local doctor and a clergyman and, apart from these, the girls were allowed no visitors. With Hay, the Department of Child Welfare had a deterrent within the system. If the "ring leaders” from Parramatta had been sent to Long Bay Gaol, they would have been considered to be heroines. Instead, Hay meant horror, and the “ring leaders” were whisked off overnight. In the late 1960’ s the Institution for Girls was a show piece of the town of Hay. The aim of the institution was perfection, and this even carried over to the gardening the girls did.

Within the walls the girls were responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building, as well as for the gardening. The Institution for Girls was closed on 30th June, 1974 for several reasons. The experiment was most successful in controlling riotous behavior at Parramatta, but it was a very ex-pensive operation. The Department believed that memories of Hay would be sufficient to discipline the girls currently at Parramatta.

Other reasons given for the closure of the institution were the difficulties in providing specialist medical care for the girls, and “modern thinking" regarding corrective institutions. It is questionable whether the Institute was a “school” as was claimed when it was opened, but it was certainly effective as an outlet for “ring leaders” at Parramatta, as evidenced by the fact that no girl ever returned to Hay. It appears that one visit was sufficient..."

The biggest riots in 1961 were for the abuse physical and sexual. One girl was pregnant to the superintendent; he kicked her till she aborted. It bought in media, police, and extra male screws; it lasted for 3-4 days. To stop an inquiry they opened up Hay to take the heat off the department and directed onto us girls.

We were young girls from dysfunctional families, violence and neglect or abandoned a lot had been through orphanages and other homes at a very young age. Committed threw the courts for Exposed to moral Danger and uncontrollable and neglect.

I went to Hay twice once for acting out against the  physical and sexual abuse, spitting out the psychotic drug (legatorial) they put me on to suppress me, they smashed my head into a sink broke my nose and teeth. I spiraled out of control. After 15months I was sent back to my dysfunctional family a broken spirit. I ran away again and was committed to Parramatta girls home. Because I was an ex Hay girl I copped more violence and acted out against that system and sent to Hay again. It was easier to go back to what I knew was expected of me, even though it was no easier the second time. I was still programmed to the brutal sadistic system at Hay girls institution.

Rubbing the black tar off the thick bared gates with wire brushes, digging up old broken pipes and doing the septic pipes


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after the goal being derelict and run down for 14years. Between 1961-65 Saddlers palms were used for sewing canvas blinds, scrubbing, sanding, polishing, mowing and gardening, painting, block busting bricks, laying footpaths digging them up and relaying them again. Rubbing the black tar off the thick bared gates with wire brushes, digging up old broken pipes and doing the septic pipes. Scrubbing all calcimine off all cells and painting them.

Never idle

This is a PHD that was done in 1976 all researched from the Department of Child Welfares records put in to a booklet with the goal history and handed out to visitors to the goal museum. It was taken away in 2007 when Hay girl’s reunion happened and the truth was told of our time in castrated there.  Freedom of information records tell it different. Time of stay and age and documented in our minds as to the way it was.


Wilma Robb