Allegations have been made that the remains of at least 25 children were buried at the site of a former orphanage in Ballarat.
Detectives searched the site in Victoria Street on Wednesday for evidence of unmarked graves, believed to date back as far as the 1930s.
The orphanage operated from 1909 to 1968, and housed over 4100 children from all different circumstances and cultural backgrounds.
The issue was brought to the attention of police when the site was turned into development property in 2013.
“It’s been a process since 2013,” superintendent Andrew Allen from Victoria Police said during a media press conference. “It’s been a matter of going through the legal framework and identifying what that location might be. There was some previous testing done at the site which led us to commencing the excavation in the last couple of days.”
In the past there have been claims from former residents that the bodies have been buried there for years.
An excavator has already dug out a 1 metre deep Olympic swimming pool sized hole at the site.
“CAFS is aware that former residents have made claims regarding the burial of children on the former orphanage site,” Child and Family Services Ballarat said in a media release today. “Not all the children were strictly ‘orphans’. Many were separated from their families for a period of time. Some stayed on until they were old enough to earn their living, while others eventually returned to their families.”
Forensic investigators and archaeologists are assisting police with their ongoing investigation, but nothing of interest has been found yet.
Police do not have leads as to why the children may have been buried onsite. – Sarah Batt
Photo supplied by Child and Family Services Ballarat.