Nine Stories Nine Women -5- Jeromine Carlotti
In keeping with the theme of Queensland Women’s Week 2019 – Invest in Women, Invest in the future. Talking about financial insecurity and literacy. The stories of the women of Boggo Road Gaol directly represent what goes wrong when women are faced with financial insecurity and other difficult circumstances.
This year, in honour of these women we have produced Nine Stories Nine Women a series of short stories representative of the different circumstances that women found themselves in. Jeromine Carlotti is the fifith of our nine stories.
Where Born: France
Trade or Occupation: Prostitute
Religion: Roman Catholic
Height: 4 feet 11 inches
Weight: 8 Stone
Education: R & W
Descriptive Marks: 6 x Vaccination marks left arm; Ears pierced ; Scar left thumb; two small scars left hand; Surgical scar on abdomen.
Sadly, we know very little about Jeromine Carlotti. Her story, and time in Boggo Road Gaol was very short. However, hers is an important story to tell. Jeromine Carlotti was incarcerated for being a prohibited immigrant. That is, she failed a language test, required by law to allow citizenship. Six months was her sentence unless she was deported sooner…
Her story is very complicated, it is not known exactly when she arrived in Australia. She was the victim of slave traders that operated in France and in Australia. Women from France were smuggled into Australia promised a fresh start and a significantly better life with a wealthy supporter. The women smuggled from Australia to French ports too were promised the same extravagant life. Unfortunately for these women… in both directions it was a terrible ruse.
It is thought that Jeromine had been in Australia for up to three weeks according to official reports… and had failed a dictation language test and was picked up as a prohibited immigrant.
From Federation in Australia in 1901 the Commonwealth Government became in control of the immigrants that entered Australia. Particularly refusing entry to particular classes of people, namely Non-European people and people from the South Sea Islands. A dictation test could be given to prohibit entry to undesirable immigrants, not only to non-Europeans but also to those who had contagious diseases or criminal records, people who were believed to be morally weak or unable to support themselves.
The test could also be applied to contract labourers who were thought to be taking jobs from Australians. The test consisted of writing out fifty words in a European language, (after 1905, any prescribed language) dictated by an immigration officer. The choice of the language used was at the discretion of the officer and the aim of the test was to fail those to whom it was administered. If by chance the undesired immigrant passed the test, it could be repeated using different languages until the object of failure was achieved.
Basically, immigrants deemed undesirable stood no chance at all in staying in Australia. Jeromine was one of these. It is not even known how much of the information listed on her admission to Boggo Road Gaol is even correct. Particularly that of her occupation; It is quite feasible that Jeromine was indeed a lady of the streets, however more likely, that was the reason for her being refused entry; especially as she could read and write.
So, Jeromine was sentenced to serve 6 months inside the walls of Boggo Road Gaol unless of course she was deported sooner. Which she was.. officially deported on the 1st of March 1931 on the ship Orford just twelve days into her sentence. Poor Jeromine was looking for a new start… and was refused that opportunity – A victim of a broken system.
Come and get locked up in Boggo Road Gaol for Queensland Women’s Week! Experience what life was like for the women from the earliest times of the female division in our fully immersive tour experience Join us for a History Tour on the 6th or 8th of March to be a part of our very special Queensland Women’s Week events.
Tickets for Queensland Women’s Week are strictly limited so get in quickly to secure your spot. You do not want to miss this! Click here to book now!