Westbrook, the two-part docudrama I worked on for producer Graham McNeice screens on FOX this week and I’ll be watching it with great interest. I was not aware of the notorious Westbrook boys’ home near Toowoomba before my involvement on the project but this is a story that truly needed to be told. From the 50s young Queensland offenders, some just little boys, were sentenced to what amounted to our very own prison camp. It was a harrowing time with the boys brutalised and half-starved in what at best were misguided efforts to reform them. Once in the system the boys were swallowed up and could languish for years before release. Boys were terribly beaten for the most minor of indiscretions, assaulted by fellow inmates and fed maggot riddled food. While many of these boys never shook off the demons of Westbrook, the amazing thing is that some did, risking all for daring escapes or quietly enduring the suffering to emerge as successful men. Graham McNeice was passionate to tell this story and do the right thing by the men who suffered. Good luck to Graham and the men of Westbrook and may it be a lesson to all of us on potential failures within the justice system.
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