Saturday, 1 April 2017


The original home rebuilt in the 1930s

When I first moved to Boronia my wife took me to one of her favourite viewing spots in the area. A clear unobstructed panorama looking east across the basin from the corner of the roundabout opposite Rainy Day Books and the Post Office. It was a clear late autumn day and the fields and mountain backdrop were green and the sky the blue you only get in the mid-afternoon. I agreed it was a stunning vista (and still is.)
Part of the view with the Home just visible
“But what was the building down there?” I asked.
 “It was the old Boys’ Home, I don’t think it has been used as one for a long time, it’s a farm or something now. Funny you don’t hear a lot about it” She said.
I had no idea there was a Boys Home in the area, I was familiar with Tally Ho and Burwood Boys home from where I grew up because many of the kids who stayed there attended schools in the area or I played sport with, and of course every teenage school boy was familiar with Turana, the place that was said you did your apprentice for Pentridge.
The No1 Home around 1950s

It wouldn’t be long before I did.
These days it is heard of more and more. Due to a State Parliamentary Inquiry and an ongoing Royal Commission.
The place I am referring to is the Salvation Army run Bayswater Boys Home established in 1896 (named thus because Bayswater was the nearest railway station) and was operating in the area for nearly one hundred years in one form or another having existed in any one of at least five locations, but - before closure - operated in mainly three sites. (a)(b)(c)These being: the oldest site, which housed Bayswater Boys' Home No 1 on The Basin-Olinda Road, and is still run by The Salvation Army as the Basin Farm or Basin Centre and is a drug and alcohol treatment centre. Home No. 2 catered for boys who could not be placed at the Salvation Army's Home in Box Hill because they were too old and judged to be 'in danger of falling into criminal tendencies because of neglect'. The No.2 Home segregated its boys from older and more serious offenders in the No.1 Home and was located on Liverpool Road where the Salvation Army Boronia Corps still operate and also the independent Laser Challenge. There were also a separate junior section Boys’ Home No.3 which was situated behind Home No.2 from 1930 until 1947 and housed boys who were not classified as 'reformatory cases' -that is not being held for any form of delinquency-. After its closure, boys were transferred back into No 1 Home, which was rebuilt and expanded in 1946. Another part of Boys Home No.2 was a Special needs home opposite No.2 and No.3 where the Basin Primary School now exists. (Refer Map)
1966 Map of the Home Sites

The Homes operated in various guises until they were closed progressively from 1980. The last, Boys’ Home No.1 by then known as the Bayswater Youth Training Centre, closed in 1986.
The homes originally commenced in response to a request by the Government of the day, for religious denominations to open homes to replace reformatories and along with the Catholic and Protestant Churches took up the challenge. They, in turn, were eventually shut down or phased out by a shift in Government policies regarding institutional care in the late 1980s. These shifts of policy also saw the closure of Kew Cottages Larundel mental asylum and many other mental hospitals and disability homes.
These types of homes were in existence for nearly a century and served a major social function but like all institution, no matter how important, whether they work in a hospital, asylum, petitionary, detention centre, an orphanage or are members of the Clergy, Police force or judiciary. There is always a way that people of power or influence can abuse their positions.
The Bayswater Boys Homes now have a documented history of serious sexual and physical abuse that can no longer be suppressed.

No.1 Home 1950s

The Home site today
During the1990s and into the new Century allegation were raised of serious physical and sexual abuse in these institutions which many victims came forward to expose the lack of accountability and duty of care by those who ran these institutions. One Senate report, the Forgotten Australians: A report on Australians who experienced institutional or out-of-home care as children” which was released in 2004 coincided with a flurry of activity from organised religions. In 2006, the issue of Victorian state wards snowballed when the media discovered the Salvation Army, Catholic Church, and State Government had been making hundreds of secret payments to people to people making claims of
past institutional abuse. This led to The Victorian State Government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Abuse Betrayal of Trust report, which was published in 2013. Prior to this report being tabled a more far-reaching Royal Commission was announced by Prime Minister Gillard in November 2012 and still continues today.
During these commission hearings Angela Sdrinis - whose firm has represented more than 1000 wards of the state, including 137 from Bayswater - said systemic abuse by Salvation Army staff was so severe that in some cases boys were killed or allowed to die from their injuries. (e)
It was from the Betrayal of Trust findings that it was revealed many of those bodies in charge of the institutions had no reporting guidelines for abuse by officers and vast amounts of records had been damaged by fire flood or simply disappeared. In fact,  the Salvation Army never had any procedure for self-reporting Officers during the operation of the 90 plus years of activity.
In 2009 Police reacted to claims by an ex-state ward Rod Braybon after his book  Salvation - the true story of Rod Braybon's fight for justice.(d)A harrowing recollection of his time spent at the Home during the 1950s, Mr Braybon stated three boys disappeared under mysterious circumstances. While not in the Braybon book he told police of two wards of the state who died of beatings in the 1950s and were allegedly buried in the Sugarloaf Hill area of the No.2 home.(This is the high area that separates the Salvation Army land and the Retarding Bain further down Liverpool road.) (e)(f)(g)
That same year the allegation was acted upon and were investigated by Victorian Police. They conducted a forensic investigation on the No. 2 Home site and found nothing they also interviewed former residents who said they had no knowledge of the alleged incident. No charges were laid nor prosecutions commenced over the claims.
These allegations were again brought up in the Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse hearing in December 2012 and the Salvation Army angrily denied it blaming the lawyers of being “false and mischievous” and that “Over time the allegations had become a matter of hearsay piled upon hearsay. The exhaustive police investigation did not find any such offence had been committed by the Salvation Army.” (h)
The buried bodies seem to have become an urban myth. Originating from the Homes themselves. This does not discount the fact that children did go missing, though runaways were common, children were not photographed or incidents recorded (i)and a number of Officers who have been brought to justice and convicted as well as those revealed as perpetrators post humorously grow with every inquiry.(j)(k)
This article by no means even remotely gives a clear picture or even pretends to be a concise history of what has happened in our area over the years but with the Royal Commissions still running more information will become available. Moreso since one important factor concerning the findings of the Victorian parliamentary inquiry Betrayal of Trust: that abuse in state-run institutions was not included in its terms of reference; this means more of the story will be told.
In 2004 and 2010 the Salvation Army made formal apologies to former children’s home residents for the abuse they suffered.
In a written statement, the Salvation Army said it would “fully co-operate with the royal commission and actively engage with individual survivors and care leaver groups”.

I do believe it would be fitting for some kind of memorial, plaque or even information board at the former sites be considered, to let our children know we are better than this now and as a tribute to those poor children who suffered, mainly because no one would listen and they couldn’t fight back.

(The Herald, 29 October 1952, p.4)

Notes Sources and suggested reading list:
(a)     It was also referred to -From the 1950s, Bayswater Boys' Home No 1 received boys on fixed sentences from Turana.       No 1 Home originally focused on farming to provide training and direction, but  expanded into a wide range of vocational training. It became known as the Bayswater Farm and Vocational Training Centre.  In 1960, it became the Bayswater Youth Training Centre.
(b) Bayswater Boys' Homes (1897 - 1986)
(c) History of the Bain Chapter 6 Rick Coxhill
(d)     Salvation: the true story of Rod Braybon's fight for justice -Vikki Petraitis Jewel Pub. 2009
(e)     The Age 18 Dec 2012 Paedophile ring 'lent out boys'-Barney Swartz
(f)      Free Press Leader September 2, 2015 -Jordy Atkinson and Jesse Wray-McCann,
(g)     The Australian 4 Feb 2013 Mellisa Iaria
(g1) In a submission to a Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2012, Brian Cherrie, who was allegedly raped and sexually abused on numerous occasions at the Box Hill home, said the Box Hill and Bayswater homes were “absolutely notorious for beatings and child rapes”.
“I personally know of two people aged in their late 60s who have lots of physical scars on their bodies from the Bayswater Boys’ Home,” Mr Currie’s submission read.
His submission also stated that he had spoken to someone who had seen a skeleton at the Bayswater home during his residence there.

(h)  Media release 18 Dec 2012
(i) – Public Hearing- Case Study 33 (Day C108) a pdf download which I recommend everyone to read not only because of the witness statements but the information supplied by the Director of Performance, Regulation and Reporting of the Department of Health & Human Services, Victoria. Alan G Hall. His statements reveal truly scary record keeping relevant to the Homes.
(j) THU OCT 08 Candice Marcus
(k)     Herald Sun Oct 25 2016 Shannon Deery -Betrayal of Trust implementation
The Monthly August 2008
Crikey  Nov 18 2013
The Australian  Nov 13 2012
Herald Sun Dec18 2012 Mitchell Toy

Print article Boronia Basin Community News Issue THIS ARTICLE HAS YET TO PRINTED IN THE PAPER