April 18 2018 | Harrison Tippet | Geelong Advertiser
A RENEWED push to open a National Orphanage Museum in Geelong has been launched by Care Leavers Australian Network (CLAN) and a federal MP.
CLAN founder Leonie Sheedy and Corio federal Labor MP Richard Marles have called for support to transform the former Geelong Orphan Asylum and Common School in Fyansford into a remembrance site.
Ms Sheedy said CLAN had outgrown its current one-room museum in Sydney, and was now looking to establish a larger, more permanent facility.
“We’ve established and maintained an orphanage museum in Bankstown, but we’re growing out of that museum,” Ms Sheedy said.
“It’s in one room and some of the items are just too big — we’ve got a big gate which is currently in the garage.”
“We’re hoping that the Federal Government and the Opposition will support a national orphanage museum, which contains the histories of care leavers who grew up in the 900-plus orphanages, children’s homes, reformatories, training centres and foster care.
“We hope they will value our history and commit to purchasing that beautiful blue stone building that was built in 1854 for the national orphanage museum.”
Mr Marles, a parliamentary patron of CLAN, said he supported the call for the former Geelong Orphan Asylum and Common School to be obtained and used for a national museum, and hoped to “get the ball rolling” on the proposal.
“Half a million Australians grew up in orphanages,” Mr Marles said. “Geelong has a particular connection with this national story; Geelong had more orphanages than any other place outside of capitals.”
“There is an absolute theme of forgotten Australians, incredibly resilient, doing extraordinary things and making a huge contribution to Australia in the bravest of ways. And that story needs to be told in this museum as well — I think it will potentially be quite an uplifting place.”