Reflection Seat sculpture

This Public Art commission has been developed in partnership with Care Leavers Australia Network.

Jacinta Leitch, Reflection Seat, 2014, Limestone

It serves to create a place of quiet reflection for all, and in particular for the thousands of children placed into Orphanages and children’s Homes throughout the Geelong region.

The richness of Geelong’s cultural heritage is derived directly from the diversity of the people who have lived inside both its visible and invisible boundaries.

Thousands of children, placed into institutionalised care in Geelong and the surrounding Barwon region are one such collective of people who have made an invaluable contribution to this cultural heritage, in circumstances that are finally becoming understood.

In the way only a child can, each gave the Geelong community an intangible gift that should never be understated.

The discovery of gold in the 1850’s provided opportunity and wealth for many in the juvenile town of Geelong, but it also had a less fortunate outcome for some, as it became a place with an ever-increasing number of unfortunate children, who found themselves destitute through no fault of their own.

Pioneer and pastoralist Caroline Newcomb, founder of the Geelong Ladies Benevolent Association, began raising funds to establish the Geelong Infirmary and Benevolent Asylum.

In 1855, the Association rented the old Telegraph Offices on the corner of McKillop and Bellarine Streets to be used as a Home and Benevolent Asylum, as well as a hospital for extreme cases of destitution.

The Geelong Orphan Asylum (Glastonbury) opened in 1854 and shortly after in 1855 St. Augustine’s Boys Orphanage in Newtown began operation.  Our Lady’s Orphanage in Newtown opened in 1862; before this, girls had been accommodated at St. Augustine’s Orphanage.

Industrial Schools intended to help a destitute child who had not yet committed a serious crime and Ragged Schools for children who had little but ragged clothes to wear and rarely shoes, also became part of the Geelong built landscape. The first Industrial School was established in the Old Immigration Depot in Ryrie Street in1865.

Within three years a private Industrial School was opened in Our Lady’s Orphanage Newtown and another shortly afterwards in the Geelong Gaol. These were all in response to the growing number of destitute children.

Over the next 130 years many more orphanages and other institutions would become ‘home’ to thousands of children, who in the absence of any alternative social welfare measures, would be placed in institutionalised ‘care’.

They included:

  • the Geelong Female Refuge (Bethany Babies Home) which provided accommodation for single pregnant women and babies from 1868 until 1977

  • Home of Hope for Destitute Children in Ocean Grove (1880)

  • St Catherine’s Girls Orphanage in Highton (1928- 1975)

  • Kardinia Children’s Home Belmont (1947- 1986) and

  • Pirra Girls Home Lara (1960-1980).

Reflection Seat sculpture Jacinta Leitch, Reflection Seat, 2014, Limestone

To contact the artist, email: [email protected]

Location: Hearne Parade, Limeburners Point in Geelong 

Page last updated: Monday, 13 September 2021