film, Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

I’ll be your mate

by Garry Shooks (guest author) on 10 January, 2011

Garry Shooks writes about visiting day at Royalstone Boys’ Home in Glebe, Sydney.

I’ll be your mate

Its Sunday the bell rings, we all take our positions on our lines.
They are numbered the lines,
It is the same lines you stand on for lunch or when ever the bell tolls,
But its visitors as you know that today at 10am hey give it a blast so they can read out the visitors list,
Every Sunday I’d line up for months that ran into years, but only ever once did my name get on that list.
See I say to the others I do have a mum or I do have a dad and they are coming to see me.
All the other Sundays your name never got read out so you were dismissed to go back to what ever you were doing but all the while hoping that the ones or one name that was read out was your mate, course he would come back into the yard from up the top house with his lollies or a toy he was aloud to have.
All the kids would gather round hoping and reminding them that there your mate and can ya have a lolie or play with em so maybe you get a lolie.
Yeah well after forever my name was read out and I ran up to be showered and put on the suit that we all had to wear from that huge cupboard of suits, the long wait out the front sitting on the bench out side the superintendence office, me feet could not reach the floor so I’d swing em back and forward just looking out the closed 6 foot gate,
A long time I sat there like that till the super came out and said I’m sorry Garry your visitor is not coming today,
The shame, they were ya lolies, you have not got a mother or father have ya or they would have come, true, I’d say to myself but out a loud I’d yell I have but they got lost and they be here next week you see,
In all my years I think I got one visitor from me dad but he was turned back at the gate because he was drunk,
Ha who wants a visitor I know I got a mum and dad and one day they come get me,
The weeks turned into months and then years, I never got a visitor, but I did have me a couple of mates, they were true blue, gave me lolie or two and we were the best of mates all those years.

Forgotten Australians, Responding to the National Apology

I can die in peace now

by Don Aziz (guest author) on 15 November, 2010

Don Aziz
Don Aziz
A response by a Forgotten Australian to the National Apology at Parliament House, Canberra, on 16 November 2009


I’m Don Aziz and I was taken from Broken Hill and put into Mittagong Boys Home at the age of 12 and then I grew up there, and then I was returned back to my mother who was a Second World War widow. And then from there I was taken back down to the institutions again, and had to put up with what was dished out to us. And then virtually went from there to Mount Panang, which is another institution of the welfare system, and from there I went back to Broken Hill and I worked on the mines up there and got on with my life.

The apology today means a great thing to not only myself but thousands of Australians that had suffered all these years without no recognition of any apology. We were lost, confused and left out there. A lot of people didn’t believe what actually went on in these places.

Today is a great day for a better future for Australia. Life itself in those homes was a lot of physical, mental and sexual abuse and a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of alcoholism by the welfare people that were in care, and a lot of abuse by the boys to one another. But it gave a sort of direction where I came from because I was living in those times of the year – it was racism against the Indigenous.

I was copping both sides from the Indigenous side and also the welfare side of it. I still carry the demons. I have to live with that until the day I die. But I believe the church, the people that were responsible for all this abuse, are not here to answer for it. So the organisations they are with should be committed to this apologies. I thank the Australian government for what they have done to bring all this together, you know. I know I can die in peace now that this has all been over and done with after today. I will get on with it again.