Neerkol residents allegedly fed stale and rotten food

ONE of the last witnesses to take the stand at today's Royal Commission hearing into Neerkol Orphanage said she was hit across the head for helping her younger sister tie her shoe lace.

Witness AYO, 47, was born in Rockhampton and placed at Neerkol when she was four years old.

She claimed the State Government placed her in the care of the Sisters of Mercy because they believed she was neglected by her parents.

AYO was sent to Neerkol with her older sister, two younger sisters and younger brother.

She was separated from her younger siblings.

She told the Royal Commission panel she would occasionally see her siblings an hold hands with them through the fence.

"This was the only time I would see them… I remember when the sisters would see us holding hand they would say things like 'you have to learn to live apart now'," AYO said.

"I remember we were mainly fed rotten food such as stale bread. On one occasion, five other girls and I were picking fruit off the ground in the orchard.

"We wanted to eat the fruit because we were so hungry.

"One of the Sisters caught us and called us back to Neerkol and we were all given the cane on the hand for stealing food.

"The sisters would also put a substance on our hands… that was meant to stop the cane from stinging, but it would make the pain worse. I do not know what this substance was."