According to the report of the Forde Inquiry (1999), Westbrook stood at the apex of Queensland's correctional system for boys and was without doubt its most feared institution. 'The Inquiry heard many stories of the threat of being sent to Westbrook being used to great effect by orphanage and industrial school staff' (p.124).
Boys under the age of 18 years were sentenced by various courts to a term of confinement at the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook. The Home was under the supervision of a Superintendent who reported to the Home Secretary, and later to the heads of the relevant department.
The boys received training in farm skills while learning to work the Home's farmland. They learned how to farm, garden and keep stock. Stock was often exhibited at the annual Toowoomba Show. Produce from the farm was sold, and the boys were allowed to keep the profits from their individual gardens.
Regular maintenance work of the buildings at the Home was also undertaken by the boys.
As part of their education and rehabilitation, trustworthy boys could be put out to service in trades, for which they were paid a wage.
In 1961, there was an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the escape of a number of Westbrook inmates on Sunday 14 May 1961. The Commission of Inquiry into the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook (also known as the Schwarten Inquiry), also investigated other matters relating to the conduct of the institution and the welfare of inmates generally. This inquiry resulted in Roy Golledge, Superintendent since 1952, being replaced by Kevin Sullivan, a former prison warder.
In 1998-1999, the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions heard evidence from several former residents of the Farm Home for Boys, Westbrook. The major criticism of most witnesses was the institution's excessive discipline and physical abuse.
The Commission's report (1999) also discussed the practice at Westbrook of certain boys being appointed as 'sergeants' to assist in the maintenance of discipline among the other boys. 'In particular, it seems that when boys escaped it was the role of the sergeants to bring them back' (p.130).
13 December 2018
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/qld/QE00533
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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