Adele Chynoweth’s book Goodna Girls (2021) tells the horrifying stories about some of the children incarcerated in Wolston Park Mental Hospital, an adult psychiatric facility in Queensland, from their voices, in their words.
Adele has worked tirelessly to seek justice for these women locked up in Wolston Park Mental Health Wards, as children, who had committed no offence, and had done nothing wrong. What happened to them was deplorable. You can read an interview with Adele Chynoweth by clicking here.
Adele Chynoweth was the curator of the National Museum of Australia’s touring exhibition ‘Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions’. She is the recipient of the 2018 ANU Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Policy and Outreach. In 2020 she was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to public history.
Adele Chynoweth stressed in this interview that, “The women whose personal narratives are featured in the book asked me to help them ‘get justice’. I met them through my work as co-curator at the National Museum of Australia of the exhibition ‘Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions’, commissioned by the Rudd Government. I learned that when working with community groups, especially with those who are vulnerable, you can’t just use them for their stories and objects and then walk away after the exhibition launch. You have to give back.”
Goodna Girls tells the story of children incarcerated in Wolston Park Hospital, an adult psychiatric facility in Queensland, Australia. It contains the personal testimonies of women who relate—in their own no-holds-barred style and often with irreverent humour—how they, as children, ended up in Wolston Park and how this affected their adult lives. The accounts of hospital staff who witnessed the effects of this heinous policy and spoke out are also included.
The book examines the consequences of the Queensland Government’s manipulation of a medical model to respond to ‘juvenile delinquents’, many of whom were simply vulnerable children absconding from abusive conditions. As Australia faces the repercussions of the institutionalisation of its children in the twentieth century, brought about through a series of government inquiries, Goodna Girls makes a vital contribution to the public history of the Stolen Generations, Former Child Migrants and Forgotten Australians.
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