Forgotten Australians

‘What we call the beginning is often the end’

by Adele Chynoweth on 26 September, 2011

‘What we call the beginning is often the end’ – so wrote British poet T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets (thank you to Former Child Migrant, Rupert Hewison for drawing my attention to this poem having quoted from it in one of his posts).

It’s nearly time for the exhibition to open and for the active phase of the Inside blog to come to an end.
What does this mean?
 Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions exhibition opens in Canberra on 16 November. That day will also mark the end of accepting contributions to the Inside blog.
What will happen to the blog?
In the exhibition
The blog is part of the exhibition. It will be featured as an exhibit in its own right on a computer in the exhibition.
On the Museum website
We will keep the blog online as a permanent record of the contributions, insights and reflections of the Inside community.
But no new contributions will be posted once the exhibition opens.
There is still time to contribute …
 If you want to be included, please submit your post by Sunday 2 October.
A personal note
 The opening of the exhibition will also mark and ending and beginning for me personally. My last day at the Museum will be 16 November.

6 thoughts on “‘What we call the beginning is often the end’”

  1. Adele, we don’t want you to go–OR the blog to be stopped dead in its tracks.
    Whose idea is that? I cannot imagine the blog without you–it is a living conversation–let it grow as you show. Why fossilize it? Who will record the responses triggered by the show itself? We need you to stay till 2014. Take it on the road–keep on blogging!

  2. Adele, please read on. The lines immediately following are: ‘And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.’

    I appreciate that you need a rest. The energy and effort, dedication and care you are putting into this exhibition is remarkable and, no doubt, tough to sustain over a long period of time. However, Rachel is right when she asks ‘who will record the responses triggered by the show itself?’

    I think a blog alongside the exhibition would be both an invaluable social history record and also a great healing place for many Forgotten Australians. Close the blog at the end of the exhibition perhaps but not on the exhibition’s opening day. Please don’t let us be forgotten again so soon.



  3. Thanks Rupert!

    And very astute of you, needless to say, to contextualise T.S Eliot’s quote. D’oh! ‘Thwarted!

    I don’t need a rest! It’s just the end of my contract. I came to the National Museum to work on the exhibition especially. It’s a resource issue.

    I understand Rupert.

    Saying goodbye will be the hardest part of the job.

  4. Hi; Adele,

    Thankyou for your hard work with the National Museum on Forgotten Australians great work well done.
    What I would love to happen is CEO staff with boldness and anointing to expose to the public the reasons Forgotten Australians were ‘chosen’ and placed into adult mental asylums where they were raped, tortured, murders & deaths occured in the asylum.
    It happened with the Duplissis Orphans Quebec, Premier Marie Duplissis and the Church were in it together supplying guinea pigs for Psychiatrists experiements cutting their brains out then sending their bodies to Universitys to be disect then bury the remains in piggary yards. What if one of those children were MP Jenny Macklins child, still do and say nothing?
    Australia and Cananda are under the same British ruling, if it happened in Cananda its possible it happened here in Australia and surely there are CEOs that can confirm it.

    We need just people to confront MP. Jenny Macklin and MPS to prove they are genuinely sorry by compensating them. Compensating them is action on the word sorry, failing to do so in my opion their talk is dung big time and they may think they can get away with it , but what John Read wrote on the 25/9/11 at 4.24 pm despicable crimes against humanity makes sence and perhaps may be true time will tell.

    To be inhuman and heartless knowing of the supplying F.As to adult mental asylums where the mentally insane were housed, plus aproving electric shock treatment to cure rebellion to nuns tyrannical authority causing memory loss is an unforgivable action, and in my opion is crinimal assult and our government get away with it and CEOs cant speak about it because they work for the government. What happened to Forgotten Australians in adult mental asylums in Cananda and Australia, the Nazis did in Hilters reign in the war.

  5. bold vision arises from the courage of one humble heart after the other

    As one of you, I am concerned that the NMA without Dr. Adele Chynoweth’s presence, (since her tenure is planned to end, not when the exhibit ends, but when it just begins) lacks full recognition of the initial impulse that Kevin Rudd acknowledged when he set in place in the highly unusual mandate and underwriting to carry out the extremely sensitive and important task of giving voice to the experiences of a half a million people who have had their lives maimed by Australia’s child/racial, colonial policies, so as to educate and inform the public of the dust-under-the-national-rug. This is something new– a mandate by the nation’s leaders who, in a rare moment of acknowledgement of the moral weight of testimony from a vulnerable and undefended segment of the population.

    I’m still looking for the bold vision NMA director Andrew Sayers spoke of when he said, “We want to make the museum a place where the issues facing our nation in the future can be debated and confronted.” In my experience and observation such bold vision arises from the courage of one humble heart after the other, and builds like an avalanche–in recognition of a task asking to be done by the time, the place and the circumstance.
    It starts with an individual’s bravery.

    I am sure that Adele Chynoweth is this person called forward to this task by time, place and circumstance, not someone who can be swapped out and the show go on. This is a highly unusual and gifted person–I would like those who launched this Apology to recognize her! Don’t allow the good she has built up to fizzle away.Of course Adele does not aspire to being singled out or championed–precisely because she is just doing her job. It is not customary to see when the confluence of experience and the unencumbered mind are able to purely act from the circumstance of vision on a task that is executed with integrity one step at a time. Perhaps my view from the diaspora is more acute because, as Proust observed, we have to be out side the room to be able to tell of it.

    Perhaps it is only from the outside that Adele’s work can be seen to stand head and shoulders above those who lack the parameters of her understanding that I am afraid seems to be lacking in the written-in-stone acceptance of precedent and the responsibility to put the museum itself first as an entity, (though perfectly understandable and necessary), rather than its mandate to serve the spirit of the nation which is yearning to be free from the fetters of self-delusion. A nation that really does want equality but hitherto for has understood that to mean snipping off the heads of every tall poppy that comes along–especially (again I am talking from personal experience here) if that poppy is feminine.

    What a great good fortune that NMA has been “seconded” Adele Chynoweth thus far. Again I urge you to take courage and to see if she can be retained for the life of the show so that the exhibit can be taken around the country with continuity and strength and make history seamlessly. NOW is the time and ANM is the place and this gifted facilitator is the circumstance for Australia to begin to come to terms with its past policies and learn of it ignored the human rights of children. I believe that Dr. Adele Chynoweth is the particular public servant who, with great compassion, understanding and hard work, is most able to fully recognize OUR bold vision to be included in the nation body. And isn’t this what every museum worth its salt wishes for—a chance to go the extra mile and make history by meeting the needs of the time?

    Rachael Romero

  6. I would like to totally endorse what Rachael Romero has written here in her blog today.

    I believe that Dr. Adele Chynoweth should be the person who carries the exhibition to to the people of Australia and on, that she is the correct person to do this and that she is the person who knows the exhibition and its people the best.

    I find it quite strikingly poignant to know of and feel the unity of Rachael Romero and myself as we join together to plead our case. I have never met Rachael or Dr. Chynoweth, yet I sense a communion of spirit and vision between us, as we look at the specter of a time when Dr. Chynoweth would not be available to steer the exhibition in the direction of validation, and a thorough awareness of what we as Forgotten Australians experienced.

    Working from opposite sides of the United States, Rachael and I, as Forgotten Australians, have managed to forge a bond of trust between Dr. Chynoweth it seems, a bond which would have been difficult for anyone to create at the best of times, as I understand that Rachael and I both fled Australia because we were treated like people who were less than human. Not all of us could do this. Dr. Chynoweth has managed to call so many of us to her like, to encourage us, and in doing so, she gave us a voice. Somewhere we could send out poetry, a song, a painting, a video or artifact from our time of incarceration. I am recalling writing to Dr. Chynoweth, and I say “Do you think this will be appropriate, are you sure it’s okay”. Her response is welcoming and sincere. She is genuinely moved by what I say, I have a sense that she feels for me, and this makes me work harder to achieve small goals in my writing, and helps me to see that I am not alone.

    How can I not want this wonderfully empathetic and intelligent woman to present my case? To present my shame (and we were made to feel shame), in a way that people can finally understand that we were abused children and not the wretches some of us were made out to be, that we are fortunate to be alive. How can I trust another person to tell about those who died.

    I ask here for all who can, to join together in a plea to have Dr. Chynoweth continue in her current role until the exhibition is presented to the Australian public, and lays claim to its place in history. I have not asked anything of the Australian people in terms of compensation for what was done to me, but I am asking here, for my story, along with every other person’s story who is involved in this exhibition, to be told, within the context of the exhibition, by Dr. Chynoweth.

    Yours sincerely,

    Janice Konstantindis.

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