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 814Location:Perth (Queen's Park)Institution:Sister Kate's HomeAge at time of removal:Unknown
Some kids who were brought to Moola Bulla and who were too white would be sent to Sister Kate's in Perth and some of them who were too dark for Sister Kate's were sent to Moola Bulla. There was a half-caste boy who was at Moola Bulla, his mother was half-caste and his father white, and I suppose they couldn't bear to see him down the camp with all these Aboriginal people so they sent him to Sister Kate's.
Confidential evidence 814, Western Australia.
- Confidential evidence 820Location:Beagle BayInstitution:Beagle Bay MissionAge at time of removal:6 years
We didn't have enough meal. We used to go jump over the fence to the garden and steal rockmelon, watermelon, whatever we can get hold of, just to fill our stomachs for the night (p. 138).
Confidential evidence 820, Western Australia: man removed at 6 years in the 1940s to Beagle Bay Mission in the Kimberley.
- Confidential evidence 821aLocation:Perth (Queen's Park)Institution:Sister Kate's HomeAge at time of removal:10 years
I was at the post office with my Mum and Auntie [and cousin]. They put us in the police ute and said they were taking us to Broome. They put the mums in there as well. But when we'd gone [about ten miles] they stopped, and threw the mothers out of the car. We jumped on our mothers' backs, crying, trying not to be left behind. But the policemen pulled us off and threw us back in the car. They pushed the mothers away and drove off, while our mothers were chasing the car, running and crying after us. We were screaming in the back of that car. When we got to Broome they put me and my cousin in the Broome lock-up. We were only ten years old. We were in the lock-up for two days waiting for the boat to Perth (p. 6).
Confidential evidence 821, Western Australia: these removals occurred in 1935, shortly after Sister Kate's Orphanage, Perth, was opened to receive 'lighter skinned' children; the girls were placed in Sister Kate's.
- Confidential evidence 821bLocation:Moola BullaAge at time of removal:5
I was taken there because I was 'half-caste'. I started thinking, 'Why do I deserve to be treated like this?' But as the years went by, I sort of accepted all that. We were treated differently to white and black people. We weren't allowed to go down to see our Aboriginal people, or go into the houses where the white people were. We just had to live around the outside of the house. They made us feel like we weren't allowed to do anything: no freedom of movement, even to think for yourself. They had to tell you what to do, and how to think. We were locked up in the dormitories, and had to go and ask for anything. We had to go and ask if we could go and see our people. We were more or less like slaves, I think. We didn't think that was wrong. We just thought it was our duty. We did what we were told. Years later, when we were grown up, our own boss - by this time we were married and having our children - we were having families and still couldn't go up and ask the managers if we could get married. They had to tell you who you had to marry. We didn't know what was their plans for us. We just lived and did what we were told. I was almost ashamed to be half-caste sometimes. I had no confidence in myself, or how to make up my mind what to do ... When I was growing up I wanted to be a teacher or a nurse. But you couldn't say that because you had to go to school and go out and work in the house, do domestic duties. That's what they said. We lost much of our culture, our language and traditional knowledge, our kinship and our land. Confidential evidence 821, Western Australia: woman removed to Moola Bulla Station at 5 years in 1944.
- Confidential evidence 821cLocation:Halls Creek, Fitzroy Crossing, Moola BullaAge at time of removal:12
The police came one day from Halls Creek when they were going on patrol to L. [pastoral station] and found me, a half-caste kid. They told the manager to take me to Fitzroy Crossing to wait for the mail truck from Derby to take me to Moola Bulla [government station]. When the manager's wife told my Mum and [step] Dad that they were taking me to Fitzroy Crossing for a trip, they told her, 'You make sure you bring her back'. But little did they know that I would never see them again. Confidential evidence 821, Western Australia: child brought up traditionally by her Aboriginal parents but captured at 12 years in the 1930s.
- Confidential submission 106Location:New South WalesInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:11 months
Pg. 186. My parents were continually trying to get us back. Eventually they gave up and started drinking. They separated. My father ended up in jail. He died before my mother. On her death bed she called his name and all us kids. She died with a broken heart. Pg. 204. My natural mother died of cancer in 1994. I had spoken to her on the phone, but she died before I had a chance to see her. She told me a lot of things I didn't understand at the time because I was 'brainwashed'. Confidential submission 106, New South Wales: woman removed at 11 months in the late 1950s with her three older siblings, made a State Ward and fostered by a non-Indigenous family.
- Confidential submission 109Location:Palm IslandInstitution:Palm Island Dormitory, Palm Island HospitalAge at time of removal:12 months
When we got to Palm Island we stayed with our mother in the women's dormitory. The day we turned five years old we were taken off our mother. Girls were put in another dormitory with other girls, some of them were orphans and some of them were children of unmarried mothers. After about a year or couple of years, our mother got a job at the Palm Island Hospital as a night nurse. She was allowed to live there ... and my brother and I, when we got up to school age, we were allowed to go down and visit her at the hospital and then spend about an hour together every Friday afternoon. That is the only contact I had with my mother and brother. Confidential submission 109, Queensland: woman removed to Palm Island at 12 months in the 1940s.
- Confidential submission 110Location:CherbourgInstitution:Cherbourg DormitoryAge at time of removal:Unknown
My mother and brother could speak our language and my father could speak his. I can't speak my language. Aboriginal people weren't allowed to speak their language while white people were around. They had to go out into the bush or talk their lingoes on their own. Aboriginal customs like initiation were not allowed. We could not leave Cherbourg to go to Aboriginal traditional festivals. We could have a corroboree if the Protector issued a permit. It was completely up to him. I never had a chance to learn about my traditional and customary way of life when I was on the reserves (p. 133).
When I was thirteen I started contract work. I did not ask to go to work. The white officials just told us we had to go to work and they wrote out a contract for us. My first job was on L. Station, Winton. I was employed to do housework but I had to do everything. Looking after Mrs E's invalid mother - including bathing her and taking her to the toilet. I did washing, ironing, house cleaning, cooked and served meals, looked after the yard, chopped wood, milked cows, did bore casing, rod placement, water pumping and did fencing with Mr E. I had to eat my meals from a tin plate and drank from a tin mug, I ate my meals on the wood heap. I was given different food to what the E's ate. Sometimes I was just allowed a couple of eggs - I was often very hungry. I had a room at the end of the shearer's shed (the shed could accommodate up to 24 shearers, during shearing time). It was small, windowless and there was no lighting. I had a wogga for a bed - made out of hessian [stuffed with straw], a bag for cover and a potato bag for a cupboard. I was very nervous there especially coming from the dormitory life where we were either guarded or locked up. I was thirteen at the time Mr E wanted to rape me. I rushed around to his car pulled out the shotgun and instead of shooting him I pushed him in the bore tank. He never tried anything else since. I told Mrs E and she told me that it was a lie, that he wouldn't touch a black person. I told the Superintendent at Cherbourg. He wouldn't believe me (p. 143)
I wanted to find out my right age and where all my family came from and who I was related to (p. 281).
There are a lot of stories in the files that have been written about me from when I was in different stations working ... And the bad things they said about me in the past from the settlement wasn't true. There are a lot of untrue things about me on the files. I have cried about the lies on those files. Things that are lies about me, things I was never told about, are on those files.
Confidential submission 110, Queensland: woman removed in the 1940s (p. 292).
- Confidential submission 112Location:UnknownInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
They reckon we were starving which was not true because my mother never drink in her life. She had to stay with us and looked after [us], feed and wash us. Just because Mum was not married, they wanted to take us away. Really we were taken away for nothing. Confidential submission 112, South Australia: man removed in the 1950s along with 3 siblings and 4 cousins after welfare determined they were neglected.
- Confidential submission 126Location:MelbourneInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:12 months
My feelings throughout life, of hurt, pain and neglection began as far back as I can remember ... I was taken from my family ... along with my biological brother, he also was with me through everything, if it wasn't for him, I probably would not been alive today to be able to write about my past. Confidential submission 126, Victoria: NSW man taken to a babies' home in Melbourne at about 12 months in 1971.
- Confidential submission 129Location:CherbourgInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
I don't know who decided to educate the Aboriginal people but the standard was low in these mission areas. I started school at the age of eight at grade 1, no pre-school. I attended school for six years, the sixth year we attended grade 4, then after that we left school, probably 14 years old. Confidential submission 129, Queensland: man removed to Cherbourg in the 1940s.
- Confidential submission 133 - PaulLocation:Melbourne (Balwyn)Institution:St Gabriel's Babies' HomeAge at time of removal:6 months
For 18 years the State of Victoria referred to me as State Ward No 54321.
I was born in May 1964. My Mother and I lived together within an inner suburb of Melbourne. At the age of five and a half months, both my Mother and I became ill. My Mother took me to the Royal Children's Hospital, where I was admitted.
Upon my recovery, the Social Welfare Department of the Royal Children's Hospital persuaded my Mother to board me into St Gabriel's Babies' Home in Balwyn ... just until Mum regained her health. If only Mum could've known the secret, deceitful agenda of the State welfare system that was about to be put into motion - 18 years of forced separation between a loving mother and her son.
Early in 1965, I was made a ward of the State. The reason given by the State was that, 'Mother is unable to provide adequate care for her son'.
In February 1967, the County Court of Victoria dispensed with my Mother's consent to adoption. This decision, made under section 67(d) of the Child Welfare Act 1958, was purportedly based on an 'inability to locate mother'. Only paltry attempts had been made to locate her. For example, no attempt was made to find her address through the Aboriginal Welfare Board.
I was immediately transferred to Blackburn South Cottages to be assessed for 'suitable adoptive placement'. When my Mother came for one of her visits, she found an empty cot. With the stroke of a pen, my Mother's Heart and Spirit had been shattered. Later, she was to describe this to me as one of the 'darkest days of her life'.
Repeated requests about my whereabouts were rejected. All her cries for help fell on deaf ears by a Government who had stolen her son, and who had decided 'they' knew what was best for this so-called part-Aboriginal boy.
In October 1967 I was placed with a family for adoption. This placement was a dismal failure, lasting only 7 months. This family rejected me, and requested my removal, claiming in their words that I was unresponsive, dull, and that my so-called deficiencies were unacceptable. In the Medical Officer's report on my file there is a comment that Mrs A 'compared him unfavourably with her friends' children and finds his deficiencies an embarrassment, eg at coffee parties'.
Upon removal, I was placed at the Gables Orphanage in Kew, where I was institutionalised for a further two years. Within this two years, I can clearly remember being withdrawn and frightened, and remember not talking to anyone for days on end.
I clearly remember being put in line-ups every fortnight, where prospective foster parents would view all the children. I was always left behind. I remember people coming to the Gables, and taking me to their homes on weekends, but I would always be brought back. Apparently I wasn't quite the child they were looking for.
The Gables knew my dark complexion was a problem, constantly trying to reassure prospective foster parents that I could be taken as Southern European in origin.
In January 1970, I was again placed with a foster family, where I remained until I was 17. This family had four natural sons of their own. I was the only fostered child.
During this placement, I was acutely aware of my colour, and I knew I was different from the other members of their family. At no stage was I ever told of my Aboriginality, or my natural mother or father. When I'd say to my foster family, 'why am I a different colour?', they would laugh at me, and would tell me to drink plenty of milk, 'and then you will look more like us'. The other sons would call me names such as 'their little Abo', and tease me. At the time, I didn't know what this meant, but it did really hurt, and I'd run into the bedroom crying. They would threaten to hurt me it I told anyone they said these things.
My foster family made me attend the same primary and secondary school that their other children had all previously attended. Because of this, I was ridiculed and made fun of, by students and teachers. Everyone knew that I was different from the other family members, and that I couldn't be their real brother, even though I'd been given the same surname as them. Often I would run out of class crying, and would hide in the school grounds.
The foster family would punish me severely for the slightest thing they regarded as unacceptable or unchristian-like behaviour, even if I didn't eat my dinner or tea. Sometimes I would be locked in my room for hours. Countless times the foster father would rain blows upon me with his favourite leather strap. He would continue until I wept uncontrollably, pleading for him to stop.
My Mother never gave up trying to locate me.
Throughout all these years - from 5 and a half months old to 18 years of age, my Mother never gave up trying to locate me. She wrote many letters to the State Welfare Authorities, pleading with them to give her son back. Birthday and Christmas cards were sent care of the Welfare Department. All these letters were shelved. The State Welfare Department treated my Mother like dirt, and with utter contempt, as if she never existed. The Department rejected and scoffed at all my Mother's cries and pleas for help. They inflicted a terrible pain of Separation, Anguish and Grief upon a mother who only ever wanted her son back.
In May 1982, I was requested to attend at the Sunshine Welfare Offices, where they formerly discharged me from State wardship. It took the Senior Welfare Officer a mere twenty minutes to come clean, and tell me everything that my heart had always wanted to know. He conveyed to me in a matter-of-fact way that I was of 'Aboriginal descent', that I had a Natural mother, father, three brothers and a sister, who were alive.
He explained that his Department's position was only to protect me and, 'that is why you were not told these things before'. He placed in front of me 368 pages of my file, together with letters, photos and birthday cards. He informed me that my surname would change back to my Mother's maiden name of Angus.
The welfare officer scribbled on a piece of paper my Mother's current address in case, in his words, I'd 'ever want to meet her'. I cried tears of Relief, Guilt and Anger. The official conclusion, on the very last page of my file, reads:
'Paul is a very intelligent, likeable boy, who has made remarkable progress, given the unfortunate treatment of his Mother by the department during his childhood.' (p. 59-61)
Confidential submission 133, Victoria. When Paul located his mother at the age of 18 she was working in a hostel for Aboriginal children with 20 children under her care. She died six years later at the age of 45.
- Confidential submission 154 - LanceLocation:SebastopolInstitution:St Joseph's HomeAge at time of removal:2 years
Dad died when I was about two. My parents were married, but they often lived apart. When I was a little kid, they gave me to an Uncle and Auntie and the police took me away from them and put me in a Home. I have never been with my brothers and sisters at all. They were also put into the same Home. My brothers and sisters did not know that I existed until a nun said, 'Come and meet your little brother'. I have some contact with them now. I see them once every six months. To me they are like acquaintances.
If I was in a stable Aboriginal family, I wouldn't have the problems I have now - identifying myself as Koori. For ages I despised my parents; how could they just dump me in this Home? I hated them for what they were - Koories. I therefore hated Koories. I hated myself because I was Koori.
St Joseph's Home - Sebastopol - is where I grew up. It was run by nuns wearing black habits. The only Aboriginal kids there were just me and another bloke. There were girls there too. I stayed there for seven or eight years. I bloody hated it. I remember going to bed crying every night and wetting the bed every night and every day moping around unhappy. I hated authorities. The nuns were really strict on you. We had a big dormitory where the boys slept. I used to go to bed crying. I remember a nun with a torch saying, 'Stop crying'. I hid my head. She came back and hit me on the head with the torch. I still have the scar today.
I did not know I had brothers and sisters until I was aged twelve. I thought, 'How come I did not know about it? Where were they? How come they did not come and play with me?' You did not really want to know them and find out Mum and Dad kept them and threw you away. You'd realise your fears were true.
Lake Condah Mission is where my parents came from. I suspect they grew up with their parents. My parents moved around heaps, although my mother doesn't now. We have a love/hate relationship. She loves me, but I hate her. I have never had a Birthday Card or Christmas Card. She is just a Mum in that she gave birth to me.
At age eight I was adopted out to these white people. They had three children who were a lot older - in their thirties and forties. I get on with them well. They send me Christmas Cards and Birthday Cards. It is good having people like that, but sometimes you know you are not really part of the family. You feel you should not really be there, eg, 'Come along Lance we're having a family photo taken'. I have not told them how I feel. They have tried real hard to make me feel part of the family, but it just won't work.
I got up to Year 11 at School. I got a lot of flak, 'How come your parents are white?'. On Father and Son Day, 'Is he the Postman or what?'. It was pretty awkward. It was always awkward. I was always a shy kid, especially among my Father's friends. 'Here is my son'. They would look at you. That look. 'You're still together?'. I remember waiting for my Mother at her work, which was a bakery. A bloke asked me, 'Where is your Mum'? He searched for an Aboriginal lady. I wished God would make me white and these people's son instead of an adopted son.
I still call them Mum and Dad. But when I go to my real Mum, I find it real hard to call her my 'Mum' because she has just been another lady - OK a special lady. Mum's Mum [ie adoptive mother] because she was there when I took my first push bike ride and went on my first date.
After Year 11, I got a couple of jobs. I got into heaps of trouble with the Police - drugs and alcohol. I could get my hands on it and escape and release my frustration. I saw Police ... their fault as well as with me being taken away from my family. Slowly that decreased because a couple of cops came to my place, just to see how I was doing and just to talk to me. You can see the effects of stuff, such as alcohol, so I don't drink anyway. Alcohol took me away from my parents, who are chronic alcoholics. Mum is and Dad was. It took my brother [car accident at 18 years, high blood alcohol reading].
Three years ago I started taking interest in Koori stuff. I decided at least to learn the culture. I did not find the stereotype. I found that we understood what we were and that we were on a wave-length. I made a lot of friends and I am yet to make more. It becomes very frustrating. I am asked about a Koori word and I don't know. You feel you should know and are ashamed for yourself. I feel Koori, but not a real Koori in the ways of my people.
It is hard to say whether I was better off being taken away because the alternative never happened. I think the people I went with were better off economically and my education was probably better than what it would have been otherwise. I might have ended up in jail. I may not have had two meals or none and fewer nice clothes and been less well behaved. If someone tried to remove my kids - over my dead body. I'd pack them up and move them away. Not the shit I've been through - no.
Confidential submission 154, Victoria: removed 1974.
- Confidential submission 191 - PennyLocation:Palm IslandInstitution:Palm Island DormitoryAge at time of removal:10 years
In 1958, whilst our family [Penny aged 10, her brother Trevor 11, Murray 7, sister Judy 6 and baby Olive was five or six weeks old, their mother and step-father] were all resident at a house situated in Cairns, my mother's capacity to look after her children in a fit and proper manner became the subject of challenge within the Cairns District Children's Court. This action was initiated by Sgt Syd Wellings, then attached to the nearby Edmonton Police Station.
At the end of those proceedings, it was determined by the court that we be made wards of the State and as such we were to be placed under the care and protection of the Queensland State Children's Department [shared with the Department of Native Affairs]. We were transferred via train to the State Children's Orphanage at Townsville.
It was as though someone had turned the lights out - a regimented existence replacing our childhood innocence and frolics - the sheer snugness, love, togetherness, safety and comfort of four of us sleeping in one double bed - family! Strange how the bureaucracy adopts the materialistic yardstick when measuring deprivation/poverty/neglect.
[Baby] Olive was taken elsewhere - Mr L (Children's Department official) telling me several days later that she was admitted to the Townsville General Hospital where she had died from meningitis. In 1984, assisted by Link-Up (Qld), my sister Judy discovered that Olive had not died in 1956 but rather had been fostered. Her name was changed. Judy and Trevor were able to have a reunion with Olive in Brisbane during Christmas of 1984. I was reunited with Olive sometime during 1985 and Murray had his first meeting with Olive two months ago (p. 74-75).
Early in 1959, under a 'split the litter approach', the State Children's Department bureaucracy sanctioned Judy's being fostered to a European family resident in Townsville, Trevor's being 'shipped off' or 'deported' to Palm Island Aboriginal Settlement.
Trevor's file reveals he was transferred to Palm Island because he was 'a great trouble' to the Orphanage. 'He has given us no serious trouble, although inclined to be somewhat disobedient at times. We find that physical punishment has little or no effect on him and that the best way to punish him is by depriving him of privileges.'
Murray and myself were to follow Trevor some time later. I recall our being driven to the landing at Hayles Wharf at 4.30 - 5.00 am - given two small ports and being told to 'catch that boat to Palm Island over there' then leaving us there. Bewilderment - scared - where was Palm Island? What was Palm Island? Why were we going there?
State Children Department, Townsville to Superintendent, Palm Island October 1958 'As you will realize, it is almost impossible to find suitable Foster Homes for such children and they do not fit in very well with white children in institutions, such as are conducted by this Department. It would be greatly appreciated if you could advise whether it would be possible to admit all, or some of these children to Palm Island.'
State Children Department, Townsville to Superintendent, Palm Island, June 1960 'These two children have been in our home in Townsville for more than two years, and in view of their very dark colouring, have not been assimilated in the white race. Every effort has been made to place them in a foster home without success because of their colour.'
I can't remember much about when or why it was decided that Murray and I should leave the Orphanage and be sent to Palm Island - Just know that I came home from school one afternoon and walked in on two other girls. They were both crying and then told me that Murray and I were going to be sent to Palm Island - it was where Trevor had been sent.
Prior to that information - didn't know what the hell had happened to Trevor - Matron told me that he was going on a picnic - he never came back on that day and we never saw him again until we were reunited with Trevor on Palm Island some time later.
After a while you just give up asking and learn acceptance of situations even though you don't fully understand the whys and wherefores.
State Children Department, Townsville to Superintendent, Palm Island, July 1960 'We will notify some responsible person on the boat as to the circumstances concerning these children and no doubt you will arrange to have them met on arrival at Palm Island.'
Upon arrival at Palm Island - we were lost - we went to the Police Station - the sergeant advised as we were white children that we must have caught the wrong boat and maybe should have been on the one that went to Magnetic Island. He also said that no one was allowed onto Palm Island without the Superintendent's permission. I informed the sergeant that my brother Trevor was already on Palm Island. After meeting with Trevor over at the school - we were taken into the Superintendent's office (Mr B) and he said that we shouldn't have been sent to the island - that there must have been some mistake. He said that he would have to look into matters and in the meantime that I would be taken to the young girls' dormitory and that Murray would be with Trevor in the boys' home. Mr B lost the battle to have us returned to the Orphanage at Townsville (p. 75-76).
Judy had the resources to seek psychiatric care. Murray's got psychiatric care. Trevor's still under psychiatric care and been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic. His psychiatrist says he attributes all the things that happened to him in his childhood to bring him to that state he is in today. Sometimes he gets suicidal. He rings up and wants to kill himself. And I say, 'Don't let your life pass into nothingness'.
People probably see on the surface that we've lead successful lives. But that's on the surface. Nobody knows that Trevor, who until six year ago has never been out of a job in his life, owns his own home, got his own car. They look at that and say, 'He's achieved the great Australian dream'. And they don't look behind that. Is that what it's all about. They look at us and say, 'Well, assimilation worked with those buggers'. They see our lives as a success (p. 77).
Confidential submission 191, Queensland.
- Confidential submission 197Location:Western AustraliaInstitution:UnknownAge at time of removal:Unknown
... all of a sudden the Welfare just came and took them, they didn't say anything to me, just picked up the boys coming back from the shop and the Welfare made them wards of the State. I used to work at the hospital nursing, keeping my little family together. If the Welfare wanted to help they could have given money every fortnight like they do now ... They weren't helping taking [them] away or splitting us up, that was the most terrible thing that they done to my family, my sons and myself. Confidential submission 197, Western Australia: mother of two boys removed in the late 1950s.
- Confidential submission 252Location:Victoria Square,Institution:UnknownAge at time of removal:4
I was very fortunate that when I was removed, I was with very loving and caring parents. The love was mutual ... My foster mother used to take me and my sister to town. Mum used to always walk through Victoria Square and say to us, 'Let's see if any of these are your uncles'. My sister and I used to get real shamed. I used to go home and cry because I used to get so frightened and could never understand why my mum would do this to us, when it made us upset. Only when I was near 29 did I realise why ... I know my foster parents were the type of people that always understood that I needed to know my roots, who I was, where I was born, who my parents were and my identity ... I remember one day I went home to my foster father and stated that I had heard that my natural father was a drunk. My foster father told me you shouldn't listen to other people: 'You judge him for yourself, taking into account the tragedy, that someday you will understand'. Confidential submission 252, South Australia: woman fostered at 4 years in the 1960s.
- Confidential submission 266Location:Melbourne (Brunswick)Institution:Hartnett HouseAge at time of removal:Birth
In 1960 my wife and I applied to adopt an Aboriginal baby, after reading in the newspapers that these babies were remaining in institutionalised care, going to orphanages, as no one would adopt them. Later that year we were offered a baby who had been cared for since birth in a Church run Babies Home in Brunswick. We were delighted! We had been told, and truly believed that his mother was dead and his father unknown. Where we lived there seemed to be no Aboriginals around. We knew some were grouped in Northcote and in Fitzroy but the stories told about them were so negative, we felt we should avoid them at least until Ken was much older. [By the time Ken was a teenager] he was in fact an isolated individual, alienated from the stream of life with no feeling for a past or a future, subject to racism in various forms day in and day out. No wonder he withdrew to his room, and as he told me later, considered suicide on occasions. When Ken was eighteen he found his natural family, three sisters and a brother. His mother was no longer living. She died some years earlier when Ken was four. Because of the long timespan, strong bonds with his family members could not be established (p. 57).
Confidential submission 266, Victoria.
- Confidential submission 275Location:Palm IslandInstitution:Palm Island DormitoryAge at time of removal:13 years
My mother came from Fraser Island. My father was originally put on Yarrabah reserve. I was about seven years old when we got [to Palm Island]. When I was thirteen I left school and the Department arranged a job. I had to leave my family and friends. I was really home sick. I was there for two years. I could not go home. There were no Aboriginal people or people of my age to mix with. Until a cyclone hit and blew my little shack up, I lived and ate on my own in the shack (p. 66).
Confidential submission 275, Queensland: man removed to Palm Island at 7 years in the 1920s; sent out to work at 13.
- Confidential submission 277Location:Palm IslandInstitution:Palm Island DormitoryAge at time of removal:7 years
I finished school in fifth grade. I think I was 17. I did alright at school but they wouldn't allow us to go on. They wouldn't allow us to be anything. I would have liked to be a nurse or something but when I finished school they sent me to work as a domestic on stations (p. 148).
Confidential submission 277, Queensland: woman removed at 7 years in 1934 to the dormitory on Palm Island.
- Confidential submission 284Location:Point McLeayInstitution:Point McLeay MissionAge at time of removal:6 years
Dad and Mum moved down to town. When they moved down to Adelaide things seemed to go wrong ... The inevitable come when Mum and Dad split up and Mum went back to her Homelands. But because we were light-skinned kids [the manager] told Mum she had to leave [the mission at Point McLeay known as 'Raukken'] and take us with her. I was about 5 or 6, something like that. Sooner or later you got caught up with [the welfare] because we didn't have anywhere else to go. But they made it that Mum had to leave Raukken with us. When she went back to town, there was no support of any sort. So she was told to take us to the courthouse. We had to appear in court. That was their job, to take light-skinned kids. Actually they told Mum to come back on a day to the courthouse when it was going to be heard and I think they told her 2 days wrong. When she come back we had already been committed as wards of the State. Same as they stamp on everyone - neglect (p. 108).
Confidential submission 284, South Australia: woman removed in the early 1940s along with her two sisters.