Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

DOCS

by Diane Mancuso (guest author) on 4 October, 2011

‘These are my observations, thoughts & feelings’, writes Diane Mancuso. Many Forgotten Australians bear the burden of  memories associated with institutional ‘care’. In this series of poems entitled DOCS (Department of Children’s Services), Diane courageously demonstrates the intergenerational risk of  children being lost to out-of-home care. The cycle sadly continues.
DOCS-department –  ‘we keep families together’
Deluded I thought that things had changed since I was a child
 
Ethan

Hebrew – firm, strong long lived

First of November, a son is born
Five years of regret, five years of searching my heart,
Not a moment ticks without feeling torn
Questioning my thoughts, my regrets, and my body wracked with pain
1825 days, seconds, minutes spent apart

When I think I cannot go another day

I close my eyes hoping it will be the last time!
I am never granted this prayer

I did not hurt my child for this – evil is a crime!
Ridiculed —society thinking we didn’t care
I am forced to confront another tomorrow
For five years, we walked with our heads low feeling the shame
My body aches pulsating with so much sorrow
Our fault yes! Naeviety was not even considered I was to blame

DOCS-Department of Community Service Mission Statement

‘We keep families together’

Opening the door with my little son nestled upon my shoulder
Accusations, fingers pointed, voices raised, I only heard two words ‘son hurt’
No chance, to explain certain of our guilt their minds already made up
Six weeks old words of abuse, I did not understand! My tiny son ripped from my embrace forever

Not given even an opportunity to kiss his downy hair, or touch his hand
Moments so painful, never to forget, imprinted images to remember every day –
Means to want to die
Snapshots of pure joy, celebration of his birth, joyous moments in time.  That I would come to bring out tracing his face, his first smile, trying to smell his baby scent.
I repeated over & over
But they had already decided I was guilty
I did not see anything nothing I would cry
Over five years the pain was always behind my mask, long days when I sobbed & sobbed till I was spent

My baby gone, my man gone, I felt so alone, desolate only the walls to echo my screams of surrender, pleading to be free from this wretched pain that imprisoned me-to be gone
I was devoid of any feelings numb, a phone call to whisper what I needed
I lay down as he injected us both, I welcomed darkness
I died that night!
He screamed for me, shook me, but I was gone, no more pain no suffering
Ambulance came ‘flatlined’ they said but they did their job I cursed why?? Did they not let me be!?! Leave me be!
Where there was no light!!!

Five years of torment, anguish enveloped in so much pain, a part of me was gone -for ever
My decision not to see him, was not about me, to let him have a better life without disruptions was the only gift I could give him
In exclusion we lived, in fear of my memories, rejection being the norm, we held on together

Five years, have gone past, I yearned to be a mum, another chance to prove them wrong

I do not understand why I stayed with this man of destruction, manipulation, deciet, I cannot answer!
Nor do I know why I did not see!!!
I can only guess that through the years he slowly destroyed any self worth, doubting my every word or thought that I would speak.
He was a master of insencerity a genuine phycopath, I was blind everyone but me could see what he was doing behind the mask he wore.
Too trusting, nieve, or if I was to believe in what everyone said then what did that make me???

Again, I believed him
I thought I saw changes or maybe I just wanted to believe that he had been wrongly accused
After, so long I yearned to be a mother I craved approval I wanted to be the mother I knew in my heart I could be

I was not aware I had to have permission from DOCS-department to be a mum again but I was very wrong!!!!

If only I could turn the clock back I would have put him first not last, but no one can know what a tragedy my decision would be

If only, If only,

Aleayah

The greatest gift from god

That’s the meaning of Aleayah

My daughter waited 5 years then another 9 months to be able to meet the most precious, wanted little baby girl

From the most joyous moment of pure elation to welcome this wide eyed, scrap of such innocence & pure of heart little angel into our embrace

Fresh from the wonderment of her entrance to the delivery into gentle meek, hands of her mother
To be nestled against mother’s breast.
Her baby pink, rosy, skin moist, flushed,
Warm from the cocoon of her mother’s womb
The first hesitant gentle tender touch, that flutters & settles within my heart images of satin, rose petals, a tear drop caught before it stains her cheek.

The dizzyingly euthoria to be able to greet this cherished treasure to know the complete dependency upon our care the complete trust to keep her safe, secure, loved & all the little moments that we will treasure, & guard in our own box of memories to keep & laugh with her when she is old enough to share.

To protect her, cuddle her, sing her lullubys,
Watch her 1st step her 1st words, her giggle,
Her skinned knees that a kiss will make it better
All the years to tell her stories, to wipe away any tears,
To allow her to be just her
To let her run with the wind at her back

To embrace her when she hurts
To allow her to make her mistakes
To be there to pick up the pieces
To listen & not judge, praise her, cherish her

We adorned her room with pink, frills, a room for a princess, a theme of angels, & little girl trinkets
We wove a tapestry of love,
A testimony of our devotion of simplicity, warmth, to protect our most precious treasure.

Visions, dreams, hopes, promise, faith, shattered damaged, destroyed, ruined, hearts completely broken

Not 2 hours old they came with their ID’s, security, their legal paper work vocalizing their prepared speeches!!

DOCS-department minister, care, emergency, foster, say goodbye

The house phone rings sobbing’ ‘Mummy, Mummy come back to the hospital their taking my daughter’

No I scream, oh god no!!!

I entered the entrance just as they were taking my grandaughter away

Stop, I say leave her with me??? I repeat let me take her?? ‘No I’m told you can not have her’ why why why????
Given contact details then they left with my precious grandchild!!!!!
I stood there numb, devestated, bewildered, no, no, – not again please god don’t do this!!!

I could only watch as they wheeled my tiny grandaughter away from me to an unknown stranger

I ran, ran, up stairs to my daughter who was so distressed she could not speak, sobbing ‘Mum Mum just let me die now’
Feeling so helpless I sobbed with her rocking her in my arms

Her arms though were now empty!!!

My daughter the most gentle, kind, vulnerable, childlike lay inconsolable curled in a feotel position trembling with raw pain

When you are a mother & your child is suffering so badly & you can’t do anything
I wanted to take her pain but I knew I could not!
No matter how much I wanted to protect her
Visions of extreme murderous intent fluddered my mind
To inflict the same ravage pain I saw in my daughters eyes
To the people who did this to my child!!!

And so it came to be
To go home to a nursery decorated for a little angel
Close the door, close the door,
Oh if we could close the door to our pain!

Every day is a struggle the insane suffering never leaves, we battle on and on, for our little gift from god will come home
Not today, not  tommorrow, but maybe, maybe next week

As the weeks turned into months my daughter, struggled with severe suicide thoughts, I was very afraid that I would lose her & my granddaughter.

She did everything she could to have her daughter returned to her, she seperated from the man who had made her life so unbearable, she took out an AVO, we went together to all the contacts to see her daughter, even though It became extremly distressing to see Aleayah bonding with her carers.

We went to every court date only to be rebuffed each time by docs. She sought therapy & goes each week, she supplied DOCS with a drug test it was clear.

Now the nursery sits empty a cot with no Aleayah, toys untouched, musical ornaments to keep her entertained get dusty on the shelves.

If I have to go into her room, I rush in & out so quickly disturbing the dust moates & to avoid the sadness & the shadows in her empty room I run out slamming the door behind me as if this could keep the pain locked away.

Sometimes, I think I can hear her crying but it is only the night wind, for Aleayah is lost to us now my tears I hide my heart breaks for my beautiful blue eyed little tiny grandaughter.——–who I will never know

This is how DOCS keep families together …

Last entry ——-I was given an assessment to be able to raise Aleayah but it is so ironic I failed due to being bought up in care … poetic … justice … will it ever go away do I have this stigma for all of my life. It  cost me my grandaughter & my childhood
Family we fought in the courts my ex-husband again paid out thousands to a barrister & lawyer but no amount of money could restore Aleayah to us.
DOCS refused to even give my family the opportunity to raise Aleayah with her biological family.

It also came to my attention that they knew my daughter was pregnant from 3 months. My question to them was ‘why did they not contact us to be able to give my daughter some options other than to react with such mallisious, insideous, so callerously remove, rip her away from my daughters breast?’
I would not wish this inhumane treatment dished out by DOCS -department

To any family god bless please keep her safe let the angels watch over her tonight & every night

Diane Mancuso.

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

St Vincent’s Westmead #2

by Graham Evans (guest author) on 23 September, 2011

Graham Evans shares a photograph of the St Vincent’s choir in 1962. Graham is standing at the far left of the front row. Graham’s role in the choir was lead singer (ensuring that all the boys stayed in tune) and drummer.

Photograph of boys in uniform with band in the foreground

articles/lectures, documents, Forgotten Australians, photos

‘Their natural heritage’

by karolina on 23 September, 2011

‘Where the little inmates are permitted to grow up natural and normal human beings.’  Inside assistant curator Karolina Kilian came across this 1933 Australian Women’s Weekly article about the Church of England Homes for Children.

‘Where children receive their natural heritage’, The Australian Women’s Weekly, 2 September 1933, p. 25

We’ve transcribed the article so that it’s easier to read:

Gone are the days when institutions for children were like dull morgues, when discipline amounted to tyranny, and all suggestion of love or affection was killed at birth.

The children’s homes of today are pleasant, cheerful places, where the little inmates are permitted to grow up natural and normal human beings.

The Church of England Homes for Children are typical of the changed order.  Visit any of the institutions controlled by this committee and you will find conditions that many children under parental roofs might envy.

Hundreds of girls and boys who have passed through these homes are now occupying good positions throughout the Commonwealth.

It is a delight to attend one of the gatherings at the home and meet young men and women who are so proud of their early association with the homes as are men and women who boast of their association with noted schools of learning.

There is a group of these homes at Carlingford (for boys and for girls), a girls’ home at Leura, and the Havilah Home, Wahroonga, for young children.

The homes all have the advantage of being set in beautiful grounds, of having fresh milk and home-grown vegetables.

Built on the crest of a rise at Wahroonga, in a setting of spacious lawns, orange groves, and shrubbery, Havilah Home cares for 80 children between the ages of two and seven years.

Girls on reaching the age of seven are transferred to Carlingford, which takes girls from the age of seven to twelve, to remain there, of course, until the time when they are able to earn their own living or suitable care is guaranteed for them. This home has accommodation for 150 girls, and this is not sufficient.  Applications are refused every day, and there is a long waiting list.  An even larger demand is made on the boys’ homes.

The other girls’ home is at ‘Quipolli’, Leura, where there is accommodation for 28, from the age of seven to the time when they are fitted to face the world alone.

Domestic science, cookery, dressmaking, laundry, hospital training, and lace-making are among the crafts taught the girls. Lace-making is a special feature, and overseas visitors have compared it with advantage to that done by the women of France and Belgium. Quite a number of girls have their own gardens, for which prizes are awarded.

The Boys’ Home at Carlingford stands in 45 acres of grazing property. The boys receive tuition in carpentring, boot-repairing, house and farm work. In every way they are taught to develop a spirit of self-reliance, wholesome living, and usefulness. They attend the public school at Carlingford, belong to the Boy Scouts, and have a fine choir. On June 3 of this year a large workshop was presented by Mr F.E. Penfold.

History of the homes commences in 1863, at Woolloomooloo, when initial efforts were made to help destitute women and children by the late Canon T.B. Tress and the Rev. J.N. Manning, two Anglican gentleman whose names are commemorated in the Tress-Manning Home at Glebe Point, Mrs J.N. Manning, who is now 83 years of age, as a senior member of the executive committee, still attends the meetings.

From Woolloomooloo a move was made to Paddington, and further expansion necessitated a transfer to Darlinghurst, and in 1894 a group of girls’ homes at Glebe Point was established. The first homes were established at Carlingford in 1929.

No mention of the Church of England Homes for Children would be complete without reference to the late Matron McGarvey, whose love, understanding, and wisdom were of such great influence in the condust of the institution.

Miss McGarvey was matron of the homes for 35 years.  It was largely owing to her efforts that the Carlingord Home for Girls was established. As Glebe Point developed more and more into an industrial area, she longed for a country environment for the children.  She saw her ambition realised, and was at the Carlingford Home for a while before her retirement in February, 1930.

Miss McGarvey died in December of the same year.

Where children receive their natural heritage – The Australian Women’s Weekly, 2 September 1933 (PDF 241.9kb)

You can also access the article and The Australian Women’s Weekly through the National Library of Australia’s TROVE search service for digitised newspapers, magazines, photographs and more.

articles/lectures, Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, Stolen Generations

Push for victims’ right to sue parishes

by Adele Chynoweth on 22 September, 2011

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge will move to amend the Roman Catholic Church Trust Property Act so that victims have access to just compensation.

Mr Shoebridge’s aim is to attempt to overturn the 2007 Court of Appeal decision of a previous legal case.  This ‘John Ellis’ case essentially says there is no organisation called the Catholic Church at law and that the property trust that holds all the church’s assets is not liable to be sued for damages by victims of abuse.

You can read the transcript of Mr Shoebridge’s speech on the NSW Parliament website.

Read Imre Salusinszky’s 21 Sepember 2011 report ‘Greens push for sexual abuse victims’ right to sue parishes’ on The Australian website.

documents, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects

Letter to Mummy

by Dianne Gallagher (guest author) on 19 September, 2011

As a young girl growing up in the Church of England Girls Home, Carlingford, NSW, Dianne Gallagher knew that the staff didn’t forward her letters to her mother. So, Dianne used to give her letters to her school friend to post.

Below is a letter that Dianne wrote to her mother, in 1964.

Click on the images to enlarge.

articles/lectures, documents, Forgotten Australians

From NSW Parliament

Maureen Redding discussed the subject of Forgotten Australians with Michael Daley, MP, Member for Maroubra. As a result, last Thursday, in the NSW Legislative Assembly, Michael Daley argued in favour of Royal Commission and a national reparation fund for Forgotten Australians.

Download a transcript of Michael Daley’s speech (PDF 76.2kb) from NSW Parliament Hansard, 15 September 2011.

Forgotten Australians, memories, poetry

The Crucified #1

Carole May Smith shares a poem written by her deceased brother Christopher Peter Carroll. Chris grew up in homes in three states. He died just before Carole was to meet him after a 15 year separation.

Chris grew up in Largs Bay Cottage Home, SA; St Michael’s Home, Baulkham Hills, NSW; Bridgewater Care and Assessment Centre, WA;  and, Hollywood Children’s Village, Hollywood WA.

Carole writes:

My brother wrote this poem in 2001 not long after the Salvation Army found him for me after some 15 yrs at least apart.

He wrote these words while in rehab in a bout of depression trying to deal with the horrors and terrors inflicted on him, me and our other brother and sister in our childhoods.

Bro passed away in Feb 2004 of a massive heart attack before we had the chance to meet again in person.

These are his story through his own words …

The Crucifed

What are they that we bear them in mind?
Welcome us no!
They pay us no mind.

Here is a question to ponder aloof _
Is Man kind?
Harken to me quickly truth,
for it has nought to do with mankind.

Tales of woe and rusty knights,
To fearful dreams and sleepless nights.

Of things etheral and in silhouette,
Only ethetics,
vain,
slimy
silly and wet.

What will befall me this awful morn?
When will they gather?
and who for me will mourn?

Surely keep my mind and heart
rock steady and able,
So to keep me from murder intent,
of the likes of Cain and Abel.

For fiery arrows at me they have threw,
Forgiven me not,
they pierce me through.

Truly this morning is both dire and grave,
They have conspired together,
and have already dug my grave.

What have I done for this to earn?
If they only knew –
Behold!
When will it end?
For they now have bound me
in this dark dank hold.

This time I was broken,
busted
and kneed,
They never once showed pity,
or tended to my earnest need.

Kicking and bashing me
they thought it light,
Keeping me imprisoned,
they are blinded
and cannot see the Light.

The assaults and insults,
my body torn,
it bears the score,
They slashed and hacked,
laughing and mocking
as they added their score.

Hear the screech of the baleful crow,
How they mocked me,
and stupendously did crow.

It was terrible indeed to pay this fare,
Ignoble and ignorant
they despised
what was honest and fair.

Dear sweet mankind,
who cut and vexed me to the vein,
Dead ears to listen,
all given freely and truly not in vain.

Splintered and shattered
they pummel me to an un-Godly site,
Satanic untold horrors are my plight,
as I now fight what defies sane sight.

Please forgive them Father
and be not cross,
Pagan rituals they rather,
as they hammer me to a cross.

Father keep me true
and in fair stead,
For they dishonour me,
and defy logic instead.

Likened as a dog,
they hung me from a tree
at a place called the skull,
Loathesome men,
their crime is clear,
while cavorting
and drinking wine did scull.

So now here I am,
I beseech Thee
with my voice
and arms out-stretch,
So be it,
I can do no more,
 for I have done my stretch.

I go now to a glory
where everything is majestic
and bright,
I truly forgive them,
for they are slow witted,
dull
and not quite bright.

Dreadful men what have you done?
I will surely mark your crowns.
desire me,
and wake up to be ready
in time to receive
the promised golden crowns.

Come be with ME
and I will let you ascent,
Can you understand ME
or the energy I’ve spent,
all I ask is an oath of accent.

All things must be
and will be
to MY true accord,
Any who defy ME,
I will accordingly sever the cord.

I AM who I AM,
and there is nothing
that I do not know,
If you ask ME properly
and truthfully
I would never say no.

I was and AM
even before time began to flow,
I will let you drink from the waters
that will never cease to flow.

by Christopher 2001