THEY were starved, raped, beaten and humiliated; now there is a shocking claim that for decades, children at Neerkol, an orphanage near Rockhampton run by the Catholic Church, were experimented on.
A Federal MP is fighting for justice for former Neerkol resident Sandra Pollard who was sent to the Sisters of Mercy institution when her mother died in the 1960s.
Mrs Pollard’s husband, John, applied for documents relating to the abuse of children at Neerkol under the Freedom of Information Act and received a truckload of files that he says prove youngsters were used as unknowing guinea-pigs, for unproven vaccines for diseases like smallpox and polio.
Western Australian MP Dennis Jensen has taken the issue to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, calling for “the fullest possible inquiry for those who were so grievously wronged”.
Mr Jensen claims there is evidence Neerkol children were infected with viruses linked to various forms of cancer.
The implication is that there could be hundreds of former Neerkol residents, many living in and around Rockhampton, who have no idea they were the subject of medical experiments.
Speaking from his home in Melville, near Perth, Mr Pollard told The Morning Bulletin his wife’s life had been wrecked by her experiences at Neerkol.
And he claimed that a series of previous official inquiries into the abuse of the “Forgotten Australians” in care did not uncover evidence children were experimented upon.
“The Ford Inquiry revelations were bad enough. It was established that there were avoidable deaths in Neerkol caused by neglect,” he said.
“But as I read the documents I was disgusted.
“There has been the most despicable deceit by the authorities to cover up the truth over many years.”
Mr Pollard said his wife of 30 years had suffered constant health and psychological problems as a direct result of her time in the orphanage where she was raped by a priest.
“She has tremendous health problems.
There are very few medications she can take and I think this might be linked to the vaccinations she received.”
Mr Pollard said his wife was not seeking compensation, but he would like to see all victims granted a Federal Gold Card for the continuing medical problems the victims carried into old age.
Capricornia MP Kirsten Livermore said she was unaware of the case, but would look into it if Mr Pollard wrote to her.