IT has taken more than 12 months to plan for this weekend’s centenary of the former Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Home.
This weekend will see more than 400 former students of the Girls Home and their families in town, with many travelling great distances across the country to be part of the centenary commemorations.
The Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls Home is now referred to as Bimbadeen and is situated on the outskirts of town in Rinkin Street.
The Cootamundra Home began as the Cootamundra Hospital, in operation from 1897 to 1910, and reopened in 1911 as the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls.
It was maintained by the Aborigines Welfare Board until 1968.
This was the place where Aboriginal girls were placed after forcible removal from their parents under the Aborigines Protection Act of 1909.
The idea was to segregate ‘part-Aboriginal’ children from their families and assimilate them into the mainstream community.
The girls were not allowed to remain in any contact with their families, and were later sent to work as domestic servants.
Thousands of Aboriginal children as young as newborn babies were taken from their families and sent to homes across the country.
Hundreds of children attended school and taught domestic duties while in Cootamundra until the home ceased its operation in the late 1970s.
This weekend will see many mixed emotions for the former students, with many of them remembering the heartache of being taken from their families at such a young age.
Among the most joyous memories of the home for the Aboriginal girls were the life long friendships that were formed.
Local Wiradjuri elder Bob Glanville, who is also on the Centenary Commemoration Committee for the Girls Home, said many of the girls who have indicated their attendance to this weekends commemorations are looking forward to coming home.
“After spending so much time here in Cootamundra, many of the former students still today call Cootamundra home,” Mr Glanville said.
Mr Glanville said the celebrations will be an opportunity for the former Cootamundra home girls, their extended families and the community to get together to see and talk about the history, the past operation of the home and the effects on Aboriginal families from the stolen generation period.
The Aboriginal Girls Home has played a big part in Cootamundra’s history.
“During the more than 50 years the Girls Home was in operation, Government records show that around 1200 Aboriginal girls were removed from their families and placed in this institution under the NSW Aborigines Protection and Welfare Boards,” Mr Glanville
Mr Glanville also has close ties with the Girls Home through his mother Iris Glanville, who was employed at the home for 18 years during the 1950’s and 1970s as a cook.
To Mr Glanville’s knowledge his mother was the first Aboriginal worker to be employed at the home.
The building that housed the Home was later taken over by the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship as a Christian vocational, cultural and agricultural training centre called Bimbadeen College, which it remains as today.
Bimbadeen will be open all weekend from 9.30am to 5pm with former students and members of the public encouraged to visit the