Inmates tell of torture and abuse

PAIN: Robin Kitson, centre, with other victims at the hearing yesterday. Picture: Edwina PicklesGIRLS as young as 10 were drugged, raped and bashed, with one having all her teeth forcibly removed because she was ‘‘bad’’, at institutions run by the state of NSW, an inquiry has heard.
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The abuse over three decades included the girls being slapped, kicked, punched, dragged by the hair, isolated for weeks and raped with a broomstick.

The royal commission into child sexual abuse is hearing the experiences of 16 women who were inmates at Parramatta Girls home between 1950 and 1974 and at the Hay Institution for Girls, a maximum security annex for inmates who were rebellious and difficult.

Counsel assisting the commission Caroline Spruce said the experiences of the women were similar.

They tell of physical abuse by officers, resulting in serious injuries as they tried to defend themselves from being raped.

Some were also subdued with the drug Largactil, used to treat severe depression and behavioural disturbances, before being raped.

They were also held in isolation cells for long periods of time with straw bedding and fed on bread and water.

Robin Kitson, who was committed to Parramatta Girls twice, told how she was kicked, punched and dragged by the hair. Her nose was held and Largactil was poured down her throat.

When she went back on the second occasion, ‘‘I had all my teeth forcibly removed by the dentist because they said I was a bad girl. I was 16’’.

Ms Kitson, now 66, said she came from a big Irish-Aboriginal family who lived at Broken Hill and then Ivanhoe.

She was first picked up after she ran away from home to see her grandmother.

During her incarceration at Parramatta she was raped by other girls. Two held her down and sexually assaulted her with a broomstick.

Ms Kitson and other witnesses Dianne Graham and Fay Hillery told how in isolation there was a straw mattress, no blankets, and a bucket to use as a toilet.

They were given bread and milk or bread and water.

The NSW government is not disputing the allegations and will give evidence of major reforms. AAP

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