Jul 24

The night belonged to former residents

At last nights council meeting the council voted to retain the old school building. Here is what former resident Deb Findlay had to say about it:

At the Council meeting there were about 25-30 people who attended, twelve were submitters.

Former Residents attended the meeting were unsure how it was all going to unfold, would we leave with a feeling of disappointment or full of joy.

Former Resident’s submissions were from all angles, all did a tremendous job in putting their case to the Mayor and Councillors.

When Councillor Belinda Coates moved the amendment, and all but one Councillor agreed, tears were flowing. Cheers of joy and hugs all round. Former residents were acknowledged for standing up for their beliefs and were told to keep going. The support from the Councillors and the community of Ballarat gives this former resident great strength and hope we can continue to battle all the way.

The developers should have negotiated better with former residents from the day back in 2011. Former resident back then were not stopping the redevelopment they only asked to retain two buildings from the very start of the Toddlers Block and the School House to be included in their development.

It may have been a victory last night former residents know we still have other battles before these light at the end of what seems to have been a long road to where we are today . We will enjoy this victory.

Here’s what Deb presented to Council at that meeting:

Council Meeting 23of July 2014 Agenda

Ballarat Orphanage School House building and to discuss Panels Report.

Mayor & Councillors and the gallery. My name Deborah Findlay Proud Former Resident of 12 years. Firstly like to thank all former residents and those who have supported us, I’m proud of them all for standing up in their beliefs we are almost near the end let’s hope after tonight perhaps start moving forward.

I fully endorse Frank Golding’s letter and Recommendation’s to the Council. As we know it was a mistake to demolish the old building in 1965 it’s a bigger mistake to demolish the school house building, and experiences nobody knows it as we do.

The Ballarat Orphanage children’s home primary school is the oldest building to remain on the site with historic and strong social significance heritage value IT WAS MORE THAN JUST EDUCATION more importantly the building in which all former residents can identify when returning to the site it’s our identity that we are FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS.

Panel Report – Heritage Significance pg- 12,13

3.4 Conclusions

It is the Panel’s view that the former Ballarat Orphanage is a place of historic and social significance within the Victoria Street Heritage Precinct and consequently to Ballarat City. It is the Panel’s view that this significance particularly relates to the Stawell Street wall, the former Toddler’s Block, the Memorial Garden, the Magnolia tree and the two Elm trees, various plaques and foundation stones and the former School House.

It is the Panel’s view that these places should be clearly identified as contributory elements to the Victoria Street Heritage Precinct. This may have to be achieved by listing all other buildings on the site along with 200A and 200B Victoria Street as non?contributory.

Panel Report -Heritage protection –pg 19 6.4

3.5 Recommendations

The Panel recommends:

1. That Council adjust its list of non?contributory buildings to the Victoria Street Heritage Precinct to clarify that only the Stawell Street wall, the Toddler’s Block, the Memorial Garden, the Magnolia tree and the two Elm trees, various plaques and foundation stones and the former School House are contributory to the

2. That the Statement of Significance for the precinct be adjusted so that the former Orphanage to the extent of these items, are specifically identified important to Panel Report RECOMMENDATIONS pg- 19. significance of the precinct.

6.4 Conclusions

The Panel accepts the position of the Council with respect to the School House as reflected in its final Panel version of Schedule 9 to the DPO (see Appendix B). That is that the School House should be retained to a minimum of two rooms and ensures that the original internal integrity of the building is maintained in any future use.

However this does not clearly identify that it’s a school building for former residents who return to the site. For this reason it should remain as whole and reused.

Is Council aware that 2015 is the anniversary the first foundation stone laid of the orphanage site 1865 -2015 , which I understand there will be several events organised next year many former residents will be returning to Ballarat to attend these events. It’s a year to reflect and remember with our mates and more importantly over 4000 children, children who never survived our brothers who fought in wars and those who never survived and former residents today. To demolish the site next year will show disrespect of our history.

Councillors I hope you will not give any permit to demolish the school House Building known as Ballarat Orphanage / Children’s Home primary School.

Question Time:

1/. Council meeting last October Council Recommendation Retention of the School House Building, at no time any mention of just retaining two rooms of the building. Former residents were missed lead it seems heading to the hearings we were supporting the council recommendation Retention of the whole building not just two rooms.

Why wasn’t a former resident informed of this decision the Council Planning Panel agreed the offer from the developers and accepted just prior to the hearings.

nightImage by Deb Findlay

The Panel Report is here to download. ballarat_c164_panel_report_website


  1. A victory for former residents over the big end of town. Thanks to all those community members who lent their support and encouragement.

  2. A victory for former residents over the big end of town. Thanks to all those community members who lent their support and encouragement.

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