State Government-run Institutions

The Victorian Government established reformatory schools and detention centres to provide institutional care and confinement for young people deemed to be in the need of ‘correction’. The Department of Child Safety are responsible for the management of these government-run institutions.  

Turana Youth Training Centre, VIC

In 1955, the Victorian Government established and opened Turana Youth Training Centre, situated in Royal Park, Parkville VIC.  

Turana Youth Training Centre (previously known as the Royal Park Depot) operated as a detention centre for male children under the age of 18 who were committed to the care of the State of Victoria (otherwise known as wards of the State of Victoria). From 1955 until 1961, ‘Poplar House’ was used as the juvenile school for male child offenders. 

Turana Youth Training Centre was managed by a Superintendent who supervised and reported to the Victorian government (through its agencies).   

Turana Youth Training Centre closed in 1993 and was redeveloped as the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre.  

History of Abuse at Turana Youth Training Centre, VIC

Survivors reported that they suffered sexual, physical, and emotional abuse during their time as children at Turana Youth Training Centre. 

A survivor reports that during his time at Turana Youth Training Centre the staff believed that he was homosexual and referred him for treatment to be “cured” of his homosexuality through conversion therapy. He had an electrode strapped to his ankle and he was shown images of naked men and women. He reports that he received an electric shock whenever a naked man appeared on the screen. When the other children in Turana Youth Training Centre found out about this, he was labelled a “bum boy” and was sexually abused. He reports that when he reported to the staff that he was being abused by the other boys, their response was to increase the level of electric shock they were subjecting him to. 

In 2015/2016, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from numerous survivors who suffered sexual abuse at Turana Youth Training Centre and found how horrific and cruel the abuse was at the institution. In its report, the Royal Commission found that:  

  • Staff (known as “screws”) at Turana Youth Training Centre were known for their brutality and physical punishments. For example, in the maximum maximum-security section known as Poplar House, it was common for boys to be bashed quite badly and the punishments meted out were always degrading.  
  • There was no supervision of the dormitories at night time. This is when most of the most boys were sexually and physically abused;  
  • Complaints about the abuse were met with inaction and punishment;  
  • There was no medical treatment provided for injuries or medical conditions; 
  • Medical examinations were often painful and degrading; and  
  • Wards who ran away from Turana Youth Training Centre to escape abuse were generally returned by the police. In some instances, they were beaten by police and usually no inquiry was made by the police as to why the boys ran away. 

A former youth worker of Turana Youth Training Centre told the Royal Commission he heard “rumours about a couple of officers” and recalled hearing about a boy who had been raped with a toothbrush. He reported that there was a culture of controlling the boys through punishment and there was no focus on child welfare at all at Turana Youth Training Centre. He reported to the Royal Commission that the dormitories at Turana Youth Training Centre were “hell on wheels” for the children. 

Mr David Green, the assistant superintendent at Turana Youth Training Centre in 1966 and the Superintendent in 1968, told the Royal Commission that boys had reported to him that they had been sexually abused by other children, but said that there was no formal complaint handling procedure – so he virtually did nothing to stop it. 

We are specialist abuse lawyers and can help you receive acknowledgement, meaningful apology and financial resolution from those institutions and systems of power that failed to protect you from harm. If you would like advice in relation to a childhood or adult sexual, physical and/or psychological/emotional abuse claim in any jurisdiction in Australia, please reach out to the author, Emily Wright, at Littles Lawyers today. 

Further Abuse Law information written by our Emily Wright can be found on our website.  

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