Just as ribbon-cutting is usually associated with such momentous occasions as the opening of a new facility, so has premature ribbon slashing become synonymous with attempts to thwart such events and to protest their validity. Such an action occurred on Saturday 19 March 1932 at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge when Francis de Groot, a member of the New Guard opposed to NSW Premier Lang’s leftist policies, slashed the official ribbon minutes before the Premier was to do so. Following de Groot’s arrest, however, the ceremony went ahead.

On Saturday 12 March people gathered at Bidura, the former Children’s Court and remand centre located at 357 Glebe Point Rd – not to protest the proposed changes by then new owners – but to raise awareness and lend support to people who survived the injustices perpetrated against them when they were children. As stated in the invitation you may have seen on the Glebe Society’s website: ‘remember that this is a day of reverence, in remembrance of those we have lost and those still struggling to survive. It is not a protest so please come along, colourful ribbons will be provided’.

And colourful ribbons did bedeck the fence as people gathered at Bidura to attend the Sydney Launch of the National LOUD FENCE ribbon campaign ‘in memory of victims of childhood physical, mental and sexual abuse who are no longer with us and in support of victims who are still struggling to survive’. This was followed by similar actions to beribbon the fence of 270 Glebe Point Rd where Roylston, the former boys’ home still stands, at 2pm that same day. For both addresses the visible signs of remembrance were intended to remain for a week.

Ribbons on the fence of Bidura, prior to their being removed (Photo: P.Vernon)
Ribbons on the fence of Bidura, prior to their being removed (Photo: P.Vernon)

There was a firm request from Bruce Trickett, on behalf of his elderly mother, Roylston’s owner and the family, that the organisers ensure that the Trickett family not be disturbed (by requests to see the house, trespassing and so on), as the weekend is family time for the parents, grand-parents and very young children. Therefore, everyone attending the LOUD FENCE Ribbon Campaign was asked to adhere to this request. The Tricketts had graciously given their permission to the organisers to encourage and endorse the LOUD FENCE Ribbon Campaign being conducted at Roylston, without any interference or undue pressure to the family on the day of reverence. The Trickett family have for years received visits from elderly men, listened compassionately to their often tragic stories and helped them exorcise their traumatic memories, frequently by permitting them to enter their home to do so.

Pamella Vernon, who asked the Glebe Society to inform local people in Glebe of the LOUD RIBBON day approached me with considerable information about the wider campaign. As one of the members of the ‘Group of Ten’ who have started a ‘Go fund me’ campaign to support the costs involved in promoting the ‘National Day of Action’ around the country at a date yet to be fixed she is fervent in her appeals to the wider community. The following is an edited excerpt from an email she sent to me.

This LOUD RIBBON campaign is the precursor for the ‘NDAFA’ ‘National Day of Action’ for Forgotten Australians, sometime towards the end of April, but possibly as late as early June, prior to the Federal Election. The Theme will be:
The rationale behind this Theme, is that the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in Opposition, when he address the Thousands of Forgotten Australians at the National Apology in 2007, the words he uttered, which brought him to tears was…’WE BELIEVE YOU’. This mantra has given comfort and hope to the many thousand survivors of the irrefutable ‘Systemic Abuse’, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and sexual. Many of our siblings did not survive and went to early graves under very sad circumstances, my sister Yvonne, being one of them.

There is a great deal more that could and should be said about this campaign, and the sad and heart-wrenching experiences of people who were subject to abuses as children that have underlain its genesis. However at the moment I’d simply like to acknowledge that many people in Glebe did turn out to support the ribbon day: Pamella again;

I must say that the Glebe Community wholeheartedly supported our Forgotten Australian’s LOUD FENCE Ribbon Campaign @ Bidura & Roylston Boy’s Home – I called & spoke to Bruce Trickett on Tuesday evening to request the family’s endorsement for the LOUD FENCE fence & Their family home. I was comforted to hear the Mrs Trickett (Elder) purchased the property in the mid 1990s & has never turned an old boy from Roylston away, even late @ night, in fact he has witnessed his mother guide the men (at times they have been extremely traumatised) she graciously allowed them access & in many cases, over the years she has consoled & commiserated & heard them out, telling of their experiences – When he told me this, he brought me to tears & said ‘of course my Mother will endorse the LOUD FENCE, with the provision that there would be no trespass or requests to inspect over the weekend, as they have very young children also that it remain for 1 week only – our men were so grateful for their endorsement & the whole day was extremely memorable’.

So the action of one or perhaps a miserable few who chose to belittle the survivors’ experiences by cutting down the ribbons become even more distressing. Their actions can be seen as those of social vandals who care little for the often crippling experiences of too many of our fellow Australians; people who rather are deserving of our support. A Glebe Society member, Kathryn Kang was moved to write the following on our website on March 14, 2016 at 11:12 am;

I support the Loud Fence campaign, in honour of victims and survivors of the abuse of children in institutional care. No More Silence. I am shocked to see that the ribbons tied to the front fence of Bidura on Saturday 12 March were cut down by someone overnight, probably in early hours of Monday 14 March. The ribbons were left lying on the footpath. This is another act, by some coward, to try to silence the voices of victims and survivors and their relatives. (I am a concerned neighbour, I’ve lived in the same house in Glebe for 30 years and counting; and I’m a member of The Glebe Society).

If you would like to contribute to the campaign I’m sure your support would be welcome. I will certainly pass anything on to Pamella Vernon that any Glebe Society member would like sent to her, and I hope that you will join with me in supporting our wider Australian community in its progress towards recognising the injustices of the past, and responding appropriately so that victims and survivors alike may receive some closure. After all, we generally like to think of ours as a ‘good society’ that cares for people and their rights.