BoysTown, run by the De La Salle Brothers, was established in 1961. It was situated in Telemon Road, Beaudesert. BoysTown accommodated boys aged between 12 and 16 in seven cottages. The Beaudesert residential accommodation closed in 2001. More than 1,000 boys passed through BoysTown during those 40 years. In 2002, BoysTown Ltd, a new independent organisation owned by the De La Salle Brothers, was incorporated.
The publication, A piece of the story (1999), describes the earliest days of BoysTown:
At the invitation of, and in conjunction with, the Beaudesert Parish Priest, the De La Salle Brothers opened BoysTown in February 1961. Brothers Alban Dwyer and Kieran Rush arrived at the Beaudesert facility with 10 boys. It operated as a residential arrangement, with 7 cottages that accommodate up to 12 boys in each. A fully registered secondary school was part of the complex. Emphasis was placed on the development of life skills, career planning, a wide variety of recreational pursuits and familiarisation with modern technology. Situated on a large farming property, boys had access to farming experiences (p. 74).
BoysTown was still operating during the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions in 1998-1999. Commissioners and inquiry staff visited BoysTown in Beaudesert in the course of its work.
The inquiry's final report (1999) stated that:
Complaints of excessive corporal punishment at BoysTown emerged from both the evidence of witnesses and departmental files. Other witnesses described the use of certain boys (through the Alderman system) to maintain control through a combination of peer pressure, intimidation and physical assault, and the Friday night 'biffups', or boxing matches, which were perceived as punishment. Boys with no boxing skills were forced into the ring with bigger boys who were obliged to keep punching until the Director chose to stop the fight (p.75)
The report describes criticism of BoysTown in the 1970s by departmental child care officers, who commented on the institution's 'preoccupation with conformity, its degree of regimentation, and the general reluctance on the part of staff to deal with the social and emotional needs of the boys' (p.77).
A 1978 report to the Director of BoysTown from the department drew attention to the prevailing view among staff that parental contact was to be regarded as a privilege, and that the refusal of contact was being used as an effective and appropriate means of punishment (p.79).
Sources used to compile this entry: 'A Piece of the Story': National Directory of Records of Catholic Organisations Caring for Children Separated from Families, Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission & Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes, 1999, https://cssa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/A-Piece-of-the-Story.pdf. p.74.; 'Our Heritage', in BoysTown, BoysTown, 2012, http://web.archive.org/web/20130824092311/http://boystown.com.au/about/heritage.php; BoysTown Timeline, 2014, http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/136666/20140227-1407/www.boystown.com.au/downloads/info/BT-Timeline.pdf; Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, Queensland. Department of Families, Youth and Community Care, Brisbane, 1999. p.4, 75, 77, 79.; Department of Families, Missing pieces: information to assist former residents of children's institutions to access records, State of Queensland, 2001. p.38.; Report from child care officers to Director, 22 September 1978, DFYCC 96I/2/0, cited in the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions, p.79.
Prepared by: Lee Butterworth and Cate O'Neill
Created: 1 February 2011, Last modified: 19 October 2018