Forgotten Australians, Responding to the National Apology, Stolen Generations

Fifth generation in the ‘care’ of the state

by Katie-Maree Sibraa (guest author) on 15 November, 2010

Katie-Marie Sibraa

Transcript

My name is Katie-Maree Sibraa. I went into care at three months of age, in foster care. With my story it’s the fifth generation in state care. My dad, my grandparents and my great-grandparents all in state care. Myself, I was in care under the minister right up until I was 18 in two separate foster families and also in an institution as well. My experience from the age of seven through to 12 being sexually assaulted by seven different men in the first foster family while under the minister or Children’s Services in Queensland. Then I ran away and when I ran away they put me in an institution for running away and I was only 12. So, yeah, it’s been pretty tough.

Life in an institution when I first arrived I arrived in the back of a paddy wagon, and it was in Wilson in Queensland. They had to hold you down. You weren’t allowed near anybody, unless they had doctors at you. You were totally humiliated. I was only young and frightened because I had already experienced years of abuse – sexual abuse, physical abuse – in the family I was in and I felt like I was being re-tormented, re-punished again. And no-one believed me – no-one. I mean, it was just something that you lived with and had to accept.

Life in the institution, I closed off and was very disassociate. I was very tiny and I never ate, maybe because I fretted or there was no love. There was one person who was a couple of years old who I have only just recently met here, and she used to be my protector. She’d say, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK, don’t cry, they’ll send you into isolation.’ I felt like she was sticking up for me, then she’d get punished and I felt really bad for that.

There was no privacy and it was just – your whole identity was stripped.  You had no self-esteem, it was just nothing, no visitors, and it was hard seeing others getting visitors. And when you didn’t have anyone visiting you and you’d just see these gates, it was – not good.

I had met my natural father, my dad, when I was eight in the foster family. I did not know that I was Aboriginal, Indigenous. They brought me up from the back yard playing and they said, ‘Oh, Katie, this is your real dad’. And my reaction to that was: ‘He can’t be, he’s black and I’m white’. I didn’t know. But then he was stopped visiting me. He used to visit me in holidays, but then no.

My natural mother I didn’t know because she had left me at three months on a railway line so I never knew where she was or anything. No, I didn’t have any family.

Being in a relationship or even entering a relationship I find, because I suffered the sexual abuse as a young child and the emotional and physical, I don’t trust very easy. You lose that and sometimes you look for love in the wrong areas and you think it’s going to be OK, but it’s very difficult because you don’t have that trust. And you don’t want to get close because you think, ‘Am I going to get hurt again?’

In Canberra here today, it’s very significant as I hold this piece of paper, hearing Mr Kevin Rudd’s apology to us Forgotten Australians. I find it difficult just holding this to know that my family’s fifth generation in the care of the state – it is very emotional. But as I’ve got here – this is my father’s great-grandfather, so that’s my great-great-grandfather who was in institutions and orphanages and on working farms in Queensland.

I am from the Stolen Generation. I am Indigenous. This is my father, who passed away last year, and these were his grandparents. Two months after this was taken he was taken into care at Nudgee orphanage because he, they said, wasn’t being looked after and cared for. So they were his grandparents.

Then another article last year when my son Adam came down, he was chosen from the Central Coast to come to Canberra for the Stolen Generation for our family representing. My father was dying of lung cancer at the time. He was very proud that his grandson was here representing. It’s so true what it says: ‘Portrait of an injustice’. For him to stand tall down here last year, and I was back in Sydney crying, to know the Stolen Generation and that it was generation after generation. The portrait of an injustice of knowing each generation, not one or two but five generations of our family have been in state care, how many more is going to be in state care?

6 thoughts on “Fifth generation in the ‘care’ of the state”

  1. hi there i would like to meet you if possible
    i read your story its really sad
    we all need to stick together

  2. Hi; FAs

    Some reasons for being in State Care
    1. Poverity
    2. Un wedded mothers
    3. Fathers returned from the war psychologically damaged hence took to the alcohol
    4. Lack of government support to families
    5. Some children in moral danger
    6. No parents or family
    7.There would be many other reasons .

    Whilst our father was fighting in the war in New Guinea, our fathers wife left our dad and they never divorced. They both lived their seperate lives, dad meeting up with our mother and they lived a defacto life together for many years.
    Our father suffered real bad malaria which is recorded on his army file and drank a lot of alcohol. The times he had malaria attacks whilst intoxicated on alcohol he went ballastic and would bash the calves and our mother and there were times we had very little food.

    I discovered my mother when I was 27 yrs of age and found her to be very loving godly and a caring person , hence found out what happened to us as children.
    We were placed in the care of the State, because our mother couldnt cope with the alcohol and bashing sometimes, also the poverity, hence our father made us Wards of the State according to our mother.
    It broke our mothers heart of her 2 children placed in the orphanage and many times she said she went to Tufnell Home Nundah to try and visit her children but Sister Clare the head sister refused her to see her children.
    The State Childrens Department said to mum, if she had her own home things would be different and the S.C.Department said to mum, your children will be looked after, you are pretty and young you go and live your life.
    One time mum tried to see us in the orphanage and she saw my sister at 8 yrs of age on her hands and knees polishing the floor.

    I did not know I had a sister in the same orphanage as me, until 3 weeks prior to being fostered out to the same foster parents when I was 8.. I was in the orphanage at 3 yrs of age my sister 4 some how they kept us seperate from each other until fostered out at 9 and 8 yrs of age.
    Our Father was a World War 2 digger and my 3 Great Uncles were part of the Rats of Tobruk. They certainly saved this Country from the enemy . None of them were criminals. But my sister suffered worse than a criminal, in fact I dont think criminals were given multipal electric shock treatment for their crime, but my sister was given multipal electric shock treatment for rebellion to nuns/carers and systems of abuse.

  3. Great to read your story. Would love to have you contact me again. Really good to hear of Adam’s involvement.

  4. Katie was nominated as —-Mother of the Year——by Wingsforsurvivors.. Congratulations Katie for fighting hard to have your family re-united .You never gave up and we all feel now, that you can start to mend the fences and enjoy your new found emotions of peace and tranquility.

  5. Hi: Rhonda Trivett,

    I watched and listened about your story on video you placed on this site, how those wickard evil carers/men tortured and raped you. It took a lot of courage for you to speak about it.

    I would like to have a chat with you. If intrested, please contact Adele on this site and she can give you my email address.

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