History that cannot be ignored
21st September 2012
24th September 2012
FORGIVENESS is sometimes a hard thing to do. But this is what had to be done when a museum dedicated to the former Gill Boys Home (belonging to the Salvation Army) was opened on Saturday at the McDermott Centre.
Member for Goulburn Pru Goward officially opened a museum dedicated to the four orphanages that were operated by the Salvation Army and the Catholic and Anglican churches of the city.
Many former residents of the St Saviour's & St Peter and Paul's homes, and also St Joseph's and the Gill Boys Home attended, some with not so fond memories, and some that had nothing but praise for them.
This event was seen as an official apology by the state government to the people that were in these homes.
Former Gill boy and Moss Vale man, Michael Dahms, had some slightly more happy memories of the home, and was glad to see so many people attending the event.
"I'm happy to see a lot of people here. As a former Gill boy, I know personally what it was like for some of us to be here," he said.
Organiser of the event, Jim Luthy, himself a former Gill boy and now living in Brisbane, expressed that the home was a part of Goulburn's rich history.
"I want to acknowledge the work of Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) in getting this event up and running today," Mr Luthy said.
"I would also like to thank Member for Goulburn Pru Goward, in her position as Family and Community Services Minister for coming to open the museum today.
"The history of these homes to the city of Goulburn cannot be ignored, because nearly 50,000 people passed through these homes over the years.
"I would also like to thank John Plews on behalf of his late father Jack for coming today. Jack had a great deal to do with some of the kids from the orphanages in his role as principal and teacher at Goulburn High, as they attended the school. He tried to help them as much as he was able."
The Walshe brothers attended the Gill Boy's Home at the top of Auburn St from the mid 1960s through until the late 1970s. David, Fred and Peter Walshe were all in the home for certain periods of time, but Peter was in there for the most amount of time.
"I spent 11 years in the Gill home (1966-77), and both my brothers stayed here too, but for a shorter period of time," Peter said.
"I'm a survivor of it today because the brothers of the Salvation Army convinced me to become a Christian, and I have been actively involved in my community with the Salvos in the ACT since 1993."
Some of the former members of the home then went up to Rocky Hill War Memorial and pointed out where the Gill Boys Home was in relation to the rest of the city. It was also a time to reminisce and catch up, some members not having seen each other for many years. Finally, they then gathered for a meal at the Soldiers Club, to cap off a great day of catching up.