FORMER Ballarat Children’s Home residents are preparing for a fight to save part of their history.
A planning application to demolish former orphanage buildings will be discussed at a Ballarat City Council briefing this week and is likely to be formally considered in the chamber on October 23.
The Victoria Street premises was sold to a developer in 2011 for a residential subdivision with a medical centre and shopping complex.
Under the developer’s plan some elements would be retained, including the former toddlers’ block, some mature elm trees, the Stawell Street wall, the front memorial garden, a shade structure, several magnolia trees and the memorial Ludbrook seat.
The council meeting comes after more than 50 people attended a Ballarat Children’s Home reunion over the weekend.
Former orphanage resident Deborah Findlay said many former residents were aware of the proposal and would deliver passionate submissions in favour of protecting the remaining buildings, should the application proceed to the October 23 meeting.
“We’re hoping the wider community have concerns about the site being demolished too,” she said.
“I’m pretty sure every citizen in Ballarat would know someone who grew up in the Ballarat Orphanage...I’m hoping the Ballarat Orphanage is just as important as the Civic Hall.”
The former orphanage, which was later used by Damascus College as its junior school site, was built in Victoria Street in the mid-1860s and was a home for more than 4000 children during its tenure.
Ms Findlay said former residents who visited the site yesterday were heartbroken to find it damaged and vandalised.
The bedroom she spent eight years in a child had been vandalised and the mirror shattered, she said.
“If those buildings go down it’s going to be a lot of shattered memories and hearts,” Ms Findlay said.
“They need to remain as a reminder that history never repeats itself. The years of institutionalising children and separating them from their families, that should never happen again. Something should be left in memory.”
The City of Ballarat has also received a separate application to rezone the site from special use (private education) to a mixture of business, mixed use zone and residential.