TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
In 1959 my crime was truancy and for that I was arrested by two plain clothed
policemen, along with my mother as I was holding onto her belt and dress.
So they just forcibly dragged us to the car and drove to Bankstown Police
Station . Where my mother who was going through change of life, and all this
trauma was passing out I asked the police for a glass of water and he said
"She's bungin on an act".
When my mother actually fainted then they ran for the
From the police station they drove me around to about four homes which
would not accept me, so was taken to Glebe Shelter.
That's the first place where I had my eyes opened to the facts of life. To
be strip searched examined and treated like a common criminal,
and being frightenedof some of the girls, them being older and
I remember drinking cocoa laced
with sleeping tablets at night and then being lined up and
searched again beforebeing locked in the dormitory with a potty
in the middle of the room
AND BEING TERRIFIED
This went on for about 2 weeks . Then I went to court and
Judge Mc Creedy sentenced me to the care of the Good Shepherd
Convent until I attain the age of 15. (his words).
I was there from August 1959 till 18th September 1960. The 13 months
were the mostmiserable time of my life.
Apart from being separated from my family and feeling very
homesick, you couldn't look sideways and were threatened with
Parramatta Girls home.
Working in their laundry in the packing room dragging large heavy
canvas bags full of washing, and sorting it. This I did before school lunch
time and after school and all day during school holidays, instead
of playing or doing other fun things had I been at HOME.
Being accused by Mother Ephrem of having intercourse and being
pregnant. (I didn'tunderstand what she was talking about till later.)
They starved me for 2 days because I refused to eat the oats which were
riddled with weavils at breakfast, and Francis (nuns helper) threatened
me in no uncertain terms to force feed the oats by pushing tubes down
my throat. She yelled "You'd better eat them, as we have ways
and means of making you).
If thats christianity, then I'd rather be a heathen.
It was a terrible place putting children with retarded people, I don't know
what was wrong with them all I know there was a few that used to take
fits and some used to walk around bent over shaking their heads
and others that didn't speak properly.
I was chased by one called Shirley through the laundry because I suppose
she did't like the way I looked at her, I don't know all I know is she frightened
the life out of me.
Also in the infirmary when someone died we all had to go into
the room to view the body lying on the bed, we also had to kneel
around the bed saying the rosary. (we alsohad to touch them as well)
I had nightmares after that. Even to this day I can picture
those dead bodies crystal clear lying there, and it still gives me the creeps,
after all they meant nothing to me they weren't my relatives.
What was the purpose in all this?
On one of the rare occassions my mother came to see me, Mother Ephrem
was in the room with us (there was always either Mother Ephrem or
Mother Rose listening).
We were speaking in polish, Mother Ephrem said for my mother and I
to speak in english so she would know what we were talking about,
we didn't, because for a start my mother did not speak english and all my life
I only spoke Polish to her. (My sisters and I spoke in
English to each other).
Mother Ephrem told me to tell my mother to learn English,
my mother knew a few words of course but not so much as to have
an in depth conversation, my mother was offended by Mother Ephrems
attitude and said Mother Ephrem was worse then the SS in
Germany, and my mother would have known about the SS
as she had dealings with them when they took my brother away in Germany.
My mother said we came to this beautiful country to be free
and they took her child away and were treating her like a criminal under
lock and key.
Every thing my mother and I talked about I had to translate for Mother Ephrem,
so that that hour or so that I had with my mother wasn't what you'd call
a quality visit.
On another visit Mother Ephrem mentioned again about speaking English,
and my sister told her to learn Polish, well after the visit did I get an earful
from Mother Ephrem she said how dare your sister talk to me like that,
I have a good mind not to let you go to parlour.
Which depressed and saddened me as I didn't have many visitors
and I thought now she's going to cancel my family visits.
I really hope that Mother Ephrem is burning in hell.
When I was taken away, my parents didn't know which way to turn
for help as their English was limited, there wasn't
the help out there than,compared with today.
My brotherwent to a solicitor and he wanted 50 pounds up front which
in 1959 was a lot of money, and my brother being the only breadwinner
plus paying off the house just didn't have the money to spare, especially
when the solicitor told him that he'd probably lose, because after all they
were going to fight the government.
So I was stuck in the convent counting the days until my release.
When I first arrived at Ashfield my periods stopped through all the
trauma and I didn't get them for six months, thats when Mother Ephrem
was accusing me of sleeping around and being pregnant and telling
me to ADMIT TO IT.
And she not believing me when I asked her what intercourse was, she said
"Stop lying to me and stop pretending you're such a good girl".
Mother Ephrem was a nasty piece of work.
In church if you didn't bless yourself properly and you happened to be
standing in front of her she used to bash you in the back and tell you
to bless yourself again, THIS TIME DO IT PROPERLY.
In the end I was so scared of doing the wrong thing in church that I got
stomach cramps and with that gastric.
That happened regurlarly, I'd rather sit on the toilet than go to church.
also while at the convent I had gingivitis my gums were so bad they
covered my teeth I could just lift them up as if they were my lips,
they were bleeding pretty badly.
I was given a small bottle of peroxide to rinse my mouth with.
Needless to saya few years down the road I had to have
orall surgery which was
extremely painful, however I still lost my teeth, had the nuns done
the right thing by me I wouldn't have had to go through the
gum cutting and I'd probably still have had my own teeth
not these rotten dentures.
The good Shepherd Convent wasn"t a very nice place to be in.
They brainwashed you so much with church and religion, that
when I left, I'd go shopping and given the change I'd say
God bless you instead of thank you, and that wasn't only when shopping
Also none of the girls were allowed to become too close,
they were soon separated, so you really couldn't even have a friend.
We weren't allowed any news of what was happening in
the outside world. There was a woman called Annie who used
to tear newspapers up for toilet paper,
she also used tear pictures of Elvis Presley and the
Everley Bros and other singers so we couldn't read about them.
There was another girl in my group named Barbara who
was a diabetic she was made to carry a bucket of water
around with her by Francis (nuns helper)
so when Barbara passed out they'd pour it over her, because
they reckoned Barbara was pretending.
I never should have been placed at Glebe Shelter or the
Good Shepherd Convent,as I feel it altered my aspect
on life, I know it made
me more anxious, submissive and nervous and I let
people intimidate me.
I feel as if my spirit had been broken, and it has taken many
many years to get my life into some sort of order.
It's disgraceful that we girls were nothing but SLAVE LABOUR,
and treated as if
we were devoid of all emotion and feeling.
These so called Christians have to be made accountable
for their treatment of us.
Not hide behind the cross.