Westbrook survivors share stories of brutality

The Westbrook Home for Boy's is the subject of a Foxtel documentary.
The Westbrook Home for Boy's is the subject of a Foxtel documentary. Contributed

THE SURVIVORS of a brutal time in the region's history have aired their stories on national television.

Foxtel's two-part documentary titled Westbrook has once more unearthed the dark past of the Westbrook Home for Boys, a facility where boys were imprisoned, systematically abused and sexually assaulted.

It was not the first time the infamous prison was the subject of documentary.

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Former inmate Al Fletcher wrote Brutal: Surviving Westbrook Boys Home and William "Billy" Stokes also wrote about his harrowing experiences in Westbrook: Surviving Australia's Most Sadistic Reformatory.

"The Westbrook story makes Lord of Flies seem like a Sunday school picnic," Mr Stokes said.

Both of the authors and former inmates were interviewed by Westbrook's producer Graham McNeice for the documentary.

Mr McNeice travelled around the country to talk to the institution's former residents, after he first heard about Westbrook from an old friend.

"He knew I produced a lot of shows on the crime and investigation channel and started chatting about a place called Westbrook," Mr McNeice said.

"When he told me, I was quite horrified.

"I met with the former boys and some of them were very determined to try and get this out into the open. I discussed it with Foxtel and they commissioned the project."

Mr McNeice said many of those he spoke to had been scarred for life by their experiences in Westbrook.

"They can't get rid of the dreadful things inflicted upon them, or what they saw," he said.

"So many people couldn't cope with telling their story. Some of them only told their families in recent years."

Weaving archival footage with the knowledge of anthropologist Dr Adele Chynoweth, the docudrama offers an insight in to a very different - and shocking - time in Australia's past.

In July, 2014, the current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its first report, with more reports to come.

Westbrook took more than a year to produce and premiered last week. The final episode airs tonight, 8.30pm on Foxtel's Crime and Investigation Network.


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