Nightmare at Neerkol: A Survivor's Story of Abuse and Neglect
Nightmare at Neerkol is a book by Garnett B. Williams, who was sent to the Neerkol Orphanage in Queensland, Australia, when he was six years old. There, he endured years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by the nuns and priests who ran the institution. He also witnessed the suffering of hundreds of other children who were treated as slaves, starved, beaten and molested.
The book is a harrowing account of Williams' experiences at Neerkol, where he lived from 1946 to 1954. He describes the daily horrors of life in the orphanage, such as being forced to work in the fields, being whipped with a leather strap, being locked in a dark cellar, being raped by a priest and being denied medical care. He also reveals the lasting effects of the trauma on his mental health, his relationships and his self-esteem.
Nightmare at Neerkol is a powerful testimony of survival and resilience in the face of unimaginable cruelty. It is also a call for justice and accountability for the victims of institutional abuse in Australia. Williams hopes that his book will help other survivors to heal and to speak out about their own nightmares at Neerkol.
The book was published in 2004 by Williams himself, who used his own money to print 48 copies. He distributed them to his family, friends and former inmates of Neerkol. Since then, the book has gained wider recognition and has been reprinted several times. It is available online from Angus & Robertson[^2^] or Google Books[^1^].
Williams is not the only one who has exposed the atrocities that occurred at Neerkol. In 1997, a royal commission into child abuse in Queensland heard evidence from 62 former residents of the orphanage, who corroborated Williams' claims. The commission found that Neerkol was a place of \"systematic and prolonged abuse\" and that the Catholic Church had failed to protect the children or to respond adequately to their complaints.
In 1999, the Sisters of Mercy, who ran the orphanage, issued a public apology and offered compensation to some of the survivors. However, many of them felt that the apology was insincere and that the compensation was inadequate. Some also sued the church for damages, but faced lengthy and costly legal battles. Williams himself received $30,000 in compensation, which he used to pay for his medical bills and his book publication.
Despite the hardships he has faced, Williams has not given up on his quest for justice and healing. He has been an active advocate for other survivors of institutional abuse, and has participated in several campaigns and rallies to raise awareness and demand accountability. He has also been in contact with some of his former friends from Neerkol, and has found some solace in their mutual support.
Nightmare at Neerkol is a book that exposes a dark chapter in Australia's history, but also celebrates the courage and strength of those who survived it. It is a book that should be read by anyone who cares about human rights, child welfare and social justice.