Often the only source of information about institutions are official documents, such as reports and publications which were created for boards of management, or to fundraise. These documents provide little knowledge about the life of children in the institution, or the stories and histories important to those who lived there.
These documents contain no record of the impact growing up without love or care had on children, or of the abuse and neglect that were a feature in far too many homes. Without the voices of those who spent time in these institutions we are left without any real sense of life in care.
Where official publications can skew our understanding of childrens’ experience of care, they can also mislead, distort or omit important details about institutions, such as when they were established, how they were managed and even where they were located. Without the input of people who were in care, our understanding of institutions is incomplete, and can be incorrect.
We were fortunate to be contacted by a former resident of Bimbadeen Cottage and Family Group Home to improve the information we provided about the Sisters of Charity homes in Tasmania. With their input, we were able to more accurately represent the management of these homes and their locations.
We had also relied on historical publications in our representation of these homes, which were refuted by the former resident. In response, we removed the contested information from institutions mentioned by the resident, and in other institutions managed by the same charity, made clear that claims regarding the welfare of children were made by the charity itself.
As a result of the information provided by the former resident, we were also able to improve and confirm our information on these homes still further with the assistance of the archivist at the Sisters of Charity.
The site of Bimbadeen Family Group Home
Minor updates to St Joseph’s Orphanage/Aikenhead House: https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/tas/biogs/TE00026b.htm
Updates to St Joseph’s Child Care Centre:
We now know the Centre consisted of three cottages, each housing ten children, and that they also managed the Family Group Homes the Sisters had started https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/tas/biogs/TE00100b.htm
Each of the Family Group Homes were updated:
Villa Maria https://www.findandconnect.gov.au/ref/tas/biogs/TE00447b.htm
We have also discovered that Centacare Tasmania managed the family group homes for the last few years until they were closed in 1982, as the Sisters of Charity ceased their management along with that of the Child Care Centre.