THE 'BAD GIRLS'

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Young women who had an 'unplanned' pregnancy in the 50s, 60s and 70s were supposed to be 'bad girls'.
When I was in a Church run Home in 1967, not one of the 30 girls there swore. Nobody used the 'f' word or even the 's' word. Most of them were very capable girls, quite capable of raising their own babies, particularly compared to today’s standards. We were much more mature at an early age, because we had to be. We hadn't been mollycoddled like the young girls today are, we'd fended for ourselves. I had washed my own clothes, including sheets and towels from when I was 9 years old.
The girls ran St Mary's. We had very capable girls who worked in the laundry and others who not only cooked the meals but ordered all of the food.
Most of us knew the father and knew him well, for a period of several years in my case. One girl had been engaged, but had been jilted, she used to cry all day. Another had been prematurely sexualised from an early age, probably by a relative or friend of her family. But she wasn't to blame for that.
We were exposed to things at St Mary's that we shouldn't have been. One of the girls’ babies was strangled on its cord. She came back from hospital devastated and nobody knew what to say to her.
Another tried to give birth in the toilets alone at night because she wanted to keep her baby and she was afraid they'd take him off her. We were woken by the flashing lights of an ambulance, as her baby got stuck in her birth canal because she'd pushed too early, and he was severely brain damaged. When she returned with her son, I heard Matron callously say to her 'well you can keep him you silly girl, nobody will want to adopt him now'.
Each of those episodes made me even more compliant. I was afraid something like that would happen to my baby.
My son’s adoptive parents may have been given either one of those baby boys, instead of my son. That was how random adoption was. Nobody knew anything about genetics those days. It was just hit and miss.

 

I was put into St Mary's Home Toowong. I'd had an unplanned pregnancy to my boyfriend of 2 years. I had just moved interstate, I didn't know Brisbane, didn't know where Toowong was and I didn't have any money. Nobody helped us or gave us any advice, quite the contrary. I felt helpless and alone.