LAST Friday the CAFS Legacy & Research Centre was officially opened with a number of former residents of the Ballarat Orphanage in attendance. Located in the basement the Centre will provide a resource to curate temporary and permanent exhibitions both in the space and through online platform to increase the understanding of CAFS history, for clients, former residents of the orphanage and others in our community who are in need of support. President of the Board of Governance Gayle Boschert could not contain her happiness as she explained the process of the establishment of the centre.
“This has been a major task for CAFS over the last 12 months or more and we are very excited to be able to welcome you here,” she said. “When I first saw this basement it was packed to the rafters (with stuff) and to see it now, it is just amazing.” The research centre is home to 150 years of lives – past and present.
Photos, stories and memorabilia take pride of place in the $1.5 million project. The centre will also be used by PHD students from Federation University who will research issues including family violence, educational outcomes for children in care and best practice parenting. The centre will also provide resources to curate temporary and permanent exhibitions both in the space and through an online platform to increase the understanding of CAFS’s history. Sisters Margery and Mavis Crawford (now living in Maldon and Whyalla respectively) who former residents of the children’s home and had mixed feelings about the centre and the home but they did share a few funny memories with us.
The girls and most of their siblings were put into the home ‘for a short time’ when their father became ill and the eighth sibling was two weeks old.
“Once they put you in they never let you out,” Margery recalled.
“They had to keep the homes going, keep people in jobs. “They weren’t cruel to us but you don’t get any love, any care, I got out of there at 16 to get a job and you got no idea, we might as well have been 6, not 16.”
Mavis said she was branded a ‘bad girl’ because she had ‘shot through’ at 14. “They put me into this job and I arrived at this house, didn’t know the woman from a bar of soap and she has put her little kid in the pusher, gave me a ‘couple of bob’ and sys take him up to the shop and buy me a can of apples. “You go to the supermarket, and you come back with the can of apples,” this is where Mavis starts to laugh, “I went up the street, didn’t know what a supermarket was, never been in one, never seen one, and didn’t know what a can of apples was – as far as I knew it was a piece of fruit coming back I took the wrong turn and her sister was out looking for me in the car.”