10. Farm Girl Inmates at Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne, Australia
Samuel Moss traveled to Australia and made a fortune in gold mining. He donated money and land to construct the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. The complex had many buildings as well as farmland. In the 1840s Irish sisters from the Order fo the Good Shepherd arrived to run the farm, orphanage, and reform and industrial schools. Any girl that was considered to be in “moral danger” was sent to the convent by family members, parish priests, or police as a way to protect their virtue.
The Convent operated a dairy farm, poultry farm, and cropland as well as a commercial laundry. The nuns also taught the inmates how to make lace, which was sold in city markets. The convent was large and could house up to 1,000 girls and women that included orphans, those viewed as moral degenerates, ward’s of the state, and the downtrodden. The inmates worked in the Convent’s kitchen, nursery, and as janitors. No matter the work, compensation was not earned making it difficult for inmates to leave before they were mutually discharged. The complex closed in 1975 and in 2017 it was listed on the Australia National Heritage List.