My research is concerned with the discursive construction of discipline through the history of schools – particularly state schools. I write about those children who are in mind in public discussions around ‘school children’. There is another group of children, however, with whose history I am fascinated. These are the children who, for various reasons, did not fit into that amorphous group of ‘school children’. They were raised in institutions, on missions, and in reformatories.
Reformatories are a source of particular fascination. In Queensland, the most famous was Westbrook reformatory. It existed, in various forms, for almost the entirety of the twentieth century. As such, it offers a unique insight into the alteration of reformatory processes throughout that period. It also offers an insight into which children were excluded from that large, amorphous body of ‘normal’ children.
I have plans to write a book on Westbrook – a book focusing on the changing focal points of reformation. It’s a long-term project, something to consider once my thesis is complete. But I’d welcome any thoughts.