The National Inquiry into the Forced Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families took oral and written testimony from over five hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia, as well as from Indigenous organisations, foster parents, State and Territory Government representatives, church representatives, other non-government agencies, former mission and government employees and individual members of the community. The 524 page final report, tabled in Parliament on 27 May 1997, includes many of these personal testimonies. All of the testimonies quoted in the final report can be read here.
- Confidential evidence 161Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
That's why I wanted the files brought down, so I could actually read it and find out why I was taken away and why these three here [siblings] were taken by [our] auntie ... Why didn't she take the lot of us instead of leaving two there? ... I'd like to get the files there and see why did these ones here go to the auntie and the other ones were fostered. Confidential evidence 161, Victoria.
- Confidential evidence 162Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
Why me; why was I taken? It's like a hole in your heart that can never heal. Confidential evidence 162, Victoria.
- Confidential evidence 163Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:9
And for them to say she [mother] neglected us! I was neglected when I was in this government joint down here. I didn't end up 15 days in a hospital bed [with bronchitis] when I was with me mum and dad. Confidential evidence 163, Victoria: woman removed at 9 years in the 1950s.
- Confidential evidence 166Location:South AustraliaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Birth
I don't want to have kids, not in this society. 'Cause I reckon it's cruel to have a child in this society. If I was taken away, my mother must have been taken away from her mother, and if I was taken away from my mother, of course my child would be taken away from me. Confidential evidence 166, South Australia: woman fostered as a baby in the 1960s.
- Confidential evidence 168Location:South AustraliaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:6
Pg. 161. I've always been sorta on the outerside of things. I've always had my guard up, always been suspicious and things like that, I guess. Pg. 172. I drank a lot when I was younger, y'know. I still do I guess. I don't drink as much now, but I still do and there's never been anything ... any pleasure in it. I guess I don't know whether it's a hangover from seeing the old man do it ... whether it's because of that or whether it's because of other issues which I just wouldn't, couldn't confront ... I'd have nights where I'd sit down and think about things. There was no answers. Confidential evidence 168, South Australia: man removed to a boys' home at 6 years in the 1950s.
- Confidential evidence 170Location:Port AugustaInstitution:Umeewarra Mission Children's HomeAge at time of removal:Unknown
Y'know, I can remember we used to just talk lingo. [In the Home] they used to tell us not to talk that language, that it's devil's language. And they'd wash our mouths with soap. We sorta had to sit down with Bible language all the time. So it sorta wiped out all our language that we knew (p. 133).
We wasn't told anything about the facts of life. When we left the Home they didn't tell us anything about sex and that. All us girls, when we all come out the Home, we were all just, bang, pregnant straight away (p. 192).
Confidential evidence 170, South Australia: woman taken from her parents with her 3 sisters when the family, who worked and resided on a pastoral station, came into town to collect stores; placed at Umewarra Mission.
- Confidential evidence 178Location:QuornInstitution:Colebrook HomeAge at time of removal:5 years
We were all happy together, us kids. We had two very wonderful old ladies that looked after us. It wasn't like an institution really. It was just a big happy family. I can say that about that home - United Aborigines Mission home that was at Quorn. Y'know they gave us good teaching, they encouraged us to be no different to anybody else. We went to the school, public school. There was no difference between white or black.
Confidential evidence 178, South Australia: woman removed with her brother at 5 years in the 1930s; spent approximately 8 years at Colebrook.
- Confidential evidence 179Location:Port AugustaInstitution:Kennion HouseAge at time of removal:Unknown
When we left Port Augusta, when they took us away, we could only talk Aboriginal. We only knew one language and when we went down there, well we had to communicate somehow. Anyway, when I come back I couldn't even speak my own language. And that really buggered my identity up. It took me 40 odd years before I became a man in my own people's eyes, through Aboriginal law. Whereas I should've went through that when I was about 12 years of age (p. 176).
Confidential evidence 179, South Australia: man removed as an 'experiment' in assimilation to a Church of England boys' home in the 1950s.
- Confidential evidence 179bLocation:South AustraliaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
I'm a rotten mother. My own husband even put my kids in the Home and I fought to get them back. And then I was in a relationship after that, and he even put my kids in the Home. I think I've tried to do the best I could but that wasn't good enough. Why? Because I didn't have a role model for a start. Confidential evidence 179, South Australia: multiple foster placements in the 1950s and 1960s.
- Confidential evidence 183Location:South AustraliaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
In order to get records I have to prove Dad is dead and that I am his daughter. It is unjust that I have to get paperwork that I am related in order to get the records. Confidential evidence 183, South Australia.
- Confidential evidence 203Location:GreensboroughInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
I was in one of the cottages [in a juvenile detention centre] and they called me up to the head office and they said, 'Your mother's gunna come and visit you this weekend'. And I said, 'Who?' And they said, 'Your mother'. I said, 'Oh yeah, yeah, me mum from Greensborough [foster mother]'. They said, 'No - no, your real mother'. That just tossed me completely. I thought that she [foster mother] was my real mother, you know, because I didn't know I was Koori then. I didn't know I was a blackfella. I just thought I was something different - you know, just dark - tanned or something. I didn't know. And the day came, you know, and she walked down - you know. I was at school, and I seen them, you know - me mum and me stepfather. I seen them walking down and I've looked over and then they called me over, you know, and sat down, you know, talked. I remember I freaked out a little bit. I didn't know what to say, what to do, you know. And I was hiding behind someone else. You know how when you're - kids are kids ... Because you don't know who it is and they say, 'Yeah, it's your mum'. How the hell do I know...? Confidential evidence 203, Victoria: youth of 15 at the date of this incident, his first meeting with his birth mother.
- Confidential evidence 204Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:5
And every time you come back in it doesn't bother you because you're used to it and you see the same faces. It's like you never left, you know, in the end. Confidential evidence 204, Victoria: prisoner telling of a life spent in institutions since his removal at 5 years to a children's home.
- Confidential evidence 207 - ClareLocation:Lake TyersInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Birth
Pg. 179. I have no legal claim to come back here. I can't speak on the board of management, I'm not a living member out here on this mission. What right have I got to speak out here? And this is the way that a lot of the Aboriginals living on this mission see me - as a blow-in, a blow-through. Yet I've got family that are buried out here on the mission ... and I have no rights. As an Aboriginal I don't have any rights out here. Confidential evidence 207, Victoria: man whose mother was removed from Lake Tyers as a child; mother buried at Lake Tyers. Pg. 194. I probably would've been still trying to find my way in life, but the foresight was there from our elders [mother and aunts], teaching some respect and some form or way of getting through life without having to worry. Confidential evidence 207, Victoria. Clare was determined that her own two sons would not be taken from her and at one stage, when they were quite young, she decided to board them with different relatives to ensure that her own status as a sole parent would not lead to their removal.
- Confidential evidence 208Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
I'm not under the influence of alcohol anymore, you know. Because then you used to sort of deal with it more or less in drink and I thought I could solve my problems in a bottle, you know. That's the only way I could deal with my feelings for my kids not living here ... My kids are with me today, but I've lost a lot. I've lost that motherhood with my kids, you know. Confidential evidence 208, Victoria.
- Confidential evidence 210Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
Pg. 176. You spend your whole life wondering where you fit. You're not white enough to be white and your skin isn't black enough to be black either, and it really does come down to that. Pg. 209. You have to be accepted by the community and accept yourself. And I've proven that and yet they still won't - they won't do anything about it. They have these big meetings about stolen generations ... 'We want these children back'. And when you're there on their doorstep they're saying, 'Piss off because you can't prove you're black'. Pg. 210. And other things too like, 'You don't talk like a Koori, you don't dress like a Koori'. You know, 'People aren't going to like you because you're too educated. People aren't going to like you because you're too up-front'. Confidential evidence 210, Victoria.
- Confidential evidence 213Location:Lake Tyers, Ararat, MelbourneInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:12
We left Lake Tyers [because the station was being closed down] - I think it was the early 1960s - and we went to Ararat and lived there for quite a while ... And [my parents] are sort of thinking it's a new world. We can cope. But unbeknown to them they couldn't cope. I mean they weren't taught how to manage money or even live in a white society, because they only knew how to live the way that they had lived at Lake Tyers ... There was a lady that came to the vestry. I was forever going to the vestry and seeking help up there because of the problems that were happening ... She befriended me and said, 'Would you like to come and stay with me for a holiday'. When we were at Lake Tyers we were billeted out to people in Melbourne and went for holidays, then went back home again. Then when I met this lady and she came down and met my mum and dad ... they didn't want me to go with her. But she just sort of said, 'You'll be seeing her. We only want her for a holiday'. And they sort of kept to that. And we were coming from Melbourne up to Ararat to see mum and dad all the time, and then my brother had left and lived with people that my foster parents knew, and he came down and stayed with them and my other sister M-, she came and stayed with us for a little while but then went back. And then I think it was in 1970 the government sort of stepped in and said, you know, the problems were there and mum and dad couldn't look after the kids. And they ended up taking the kids - the three of them - away. Confidential evidence 213, Victoria: woman removed at about 12 years. When she was 16 her father was killed in a road accident while he was hitchhiking to see one of the children.
- Confidential evidence 214Location:Coomealla, Mildura, MelbourneInstitution:Coomealla MissionAge at time of removal:7
Pg. 57-58. Well, I was fostered when I was 7. I was staying with my foster parents and they rang up one day and said that my mother had died and would they consider fostering me. That was over the phone. I know there was nothing signed for me and that, and I want to know why because my father was still alive, and he didn't die until I was 10. [I was with these people] through the 'Harold Blair Scheme' for Christmas holidays and when I come down me and my two sisters got split up. We used to live in Coomealla on the mission, across the border from Mildura. They just rang me up and said that my father had died, that's all ... Pg. 142. I ran away because my foster father used to tamper with me and I'd just had enough. I went to the police but they didn't believe me. So she [foster mother] just thought I was a wild child and she put me in one of those hostels and none of them believed me - I was the liar. So I've never talked about it to anyone. I don't go about telling lies, especially big lies like that. Confidential evidence 214, Victoria: woman removed at 7 years in the 1960s.
- Confidential evidence 215Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
I started looking at my hands and wondered, why am I the colour that I am? Why are you white? Confidential evidence 215, Victoria: removed in the 1960s and adopted by a non-Indigenous family.
- Confidential evidence 218Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
The issues are growing up not knowing any family history, growing up at school and being asked to bring photos of your family, and you can't do it and the teacher says, 'Why can't you do it?', and you're forced to stand up and say that you don't have any family and people turn around and look at you in disbelief, that you couldn't have a family.
- Confidential evidence 227Location:VictoriaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
The one thing that really, really sticks in my mind is being put into this cold bed with white cold starchy sheets and having to sleep on my own and looking down the room and just seeing rows of beds and not knowing where my brothers and sister were.