‘No longer a number – my name is Rosie’. Rosie grew up as number 20280. Her experience as a state ward left her with post-traumatic stress disorder. She’s now in recovery and a Remembered Australian and made a short film about her experiences.
Rosie Klohs’ film, Sins of a Child, was published on the Moving Minds page on the Mental Illness Education ACT website.
by Patrick O’Flaherty (guest author) on 1 July, 2011
Patrick O’Flaherty arrived in Australia in 1947 thinking he was a war orphan and not knowing that his mother was alive in England. Read Patrick’s contribution to ‘Where’s the fair go? The decline of equity in Australia’, for more on his life in Australia, his shaky reunion with his mother and reconnecting with his family in Wales and Ireland.
My Ireland is the name that Mary Brownlee gave to the apron that was given to her by Sister Judith Kelly, at St. Joseph’s Home, Kincumber, NSW.
Mary explains its significance:
The little apron connected me to my home place in Aghascrebagh, Ireland, where I left my heart and I was connecting to St Joseph’s Home, Kincumber which is located in Bouddi National Park, NSW. ‘Bouddi’ comes from the local Aboriginal language which means ‘the heart’.
I came to Australia in 1960 when I was nine months old with my family as £10 immigrants. In 1967, my family fell apart and they couldn’t cope. After the court case my mother got custody of us. My father wouldn’t leave our house. The judge wouldn’t give her any help to get shelter. My mother did nothing wrong. My parents took me and my four brothers on the long road to Kincumber and it was dark. It was raining heavily and my brother Patrick was under the dashboard making the windscreen wipers work.
We got to the Home very late. It was raining very heavily. St Joseph was there. We went through the door and were taken inside. Everyone was sleeping. We were taken to the courtyard and the nun said, “I have to take your parents away now because they have to sign some papers”. We sensed that our parents wouldn’t come back. We put our arms around each other and we all cried. I cried as hard as the rain came down.
About two years after being in the Home, Sister Judith Kelly came and she was the light in the Home. She and I connected straight away because she was Irish. Sister Judith was a beautiful, special, excellent teacher. She had a great love for us. She knew that I was sad from being separated from my parents and my mother couldn’t come and visit us very often because she didn’t have a car.
Sister Judith was like my mother and my sister. She once took off her veil and showed me her black curly hair.
I used to ask her about Ireland because I remember my father talking about ‘The Troubles’, the politics of Ireland. It was always very sad but Sister Judith told me about all the people and how she missed her family and her home in County Clare.
I remember she told me one day, “I have something special for you”, and her eyes sparkled, “Let me go up to my room”. I sat down and waited and I felt excited. She came back with a scarf and she let me feel it and she spread it out. It had a map of Ireland on it. She showed me where I came from. She connected me to my home place. “A little girl would never wear a scarf, Mary, so I’m going to have it made into an apron so that you can wear it”. She sent the scarf home to Ireland to a member of her family who sewed it into an apron.
It took a lot of weeks to come back. Sister Judith told me how the post worked. Everything was always a lesson.
The parcel came. After school we had a special time. We went to the grotto and she opened the parcel. It was a whole celebration. She brought out the apron. It was beautiful. It was one of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever had.
I used to wear it all the time. I used to call it “My Ireland”. I used to put my hand or precious things in the pocket.
Later, in about 1975, Sister Judith left the Sisters of St. Joseph. She now teaches Transcendental Meditation in Ireland.
In 2003, the BBC broadcasted a series of programmes based on interviews with over 150 former Child Migrants sent to Australia, Rhodesia, Canada and New Zealand. Original legislators and child care specialists involved in the policy were also interviewed.
These interviews are a testimony to the consequences of a policy of forced child migration, sanctioned by successive governments. You can listen to these radio programmes at the BBC Radio 4 website.
Oranges and Sunshine, a film produced in 2010 and directed by Jim Loach, tells the story of Margaret Humphreys who brought public awareness to the British child migration scheme and who later established the Child Migrants Trust.
Director Jim Loach and lead actor Emily Watson talk about their involvement in the film:
By Women’s Centre for Health Matters (guest author) on 4 November, 2010
Women’s Centre for Health Matters is working with the Alliance for Forgotten Australians (AFA), the Women and Prisons Group (WAP)and others individuals from across the ACT to gather information about the current needs and circumstances of ACT women who are Care Leavers/Forgotten Australians, and their access to services in the ACT.
It is now nearly a year since the National Apology was issued on 16 November 2009, on behalf of the Australian Government, by the (then) Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. He delivered an unqualified apology to Forgotten Australians and Child Migrants who suffered abuse or neglect in care. He was supported by the (then) Opposition Leader, Malcolm Turnbull.
The Women’s Centre for Health Matters will be collecting responses from Tuesday 1st November to Tuesday 15th November. The more responses that we receive in this time, the more useful the results will be in helping WCHM to develop policy positions and advocacy strategies to address the unmet needs of these ACT women.
The survey can be accessed here or by telephoning WCHM on (02) 6290 2166 to request a hard copy of the survey by post.