*The contents in this blog relates to legislation in New South Wales.
The Mount Penang Training School for Boys (also known as the Mt Penang Training Centre) was established by the Child Welfare Department in 1946.
The institution replaced the Gosford Training School which had been located on the same site. In 1988 the institution was formerly renamed the Mount Penang Detention Centre.
Mount Penang was a reformatory school for boys convicted of offences and/or had been found difficult to manage in other state operated institutions. . The institution housed older boys aged around 14 – 16 years. Records indicate that by 1959 it housed 380 boys.
Former residents of Mount Penang have described the harsh labour and conditions that existed at the institution. For example, they reported spending entire days working in the hot sun turning over soil in a whole paddock using a single shovel. The labour and sacrifice of these children was responsible for the creation of the landscape that existed at the Mount Penang Institution.
Boys could be punished for acts as simple as speaking out of turn or looking sideways at another child. It has been reported that punishment for these acts could include losing privileges, forgoing meals and violent, physical punishment.
A report from the Royal Commission (into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody) described the Mount Penang institution as follows: “It brought serious and repeat criminal offenders together with first offenders…and did not distinguish between them. The atmosphere was one of absolute regimentation with very strict practices and procedures”. As a result, Mount Penang developed a reputation for creating, rather than reforming criminals.
The Royal Commission (into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse) heard many accounts of sexual and physical assaults perpetrated against the children who were remanded to the Mount Penang institution. Since this time, former officers employed by the Department of Child Welfare have been charged for these offences including the former superintendent of Mount Penang, Laurie Maher.
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