by Ruby Perkins (guest author) on 14 November, 2011
Ruby Jane Perkins shares her poem The Stranger.
I am a stranger
To family life
But no stranger
To institutional living. Continue reading “The Stranger”
by Ruby Perkins (guest author) on 14 November, 2011
Ruby Jane Perkins shares her poem The Stranger.
I am a stranger
To family life
But no stranger
To institutional living. Continue reading “The Stranger”
by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 2 November, 2011
View the latest film by Rachael Romero depicting, through drawings and poetry, her experiences at The Pines in South Australia. Continue reading “Magdalene Diaries”
by Diane Mancuso (guest author) on 28 October, 2011
Forgotten Australian Diane Mancuso, who recently re-connected with her UK-based sister, shares a poem about her family’s history, written by her nephew, Simon Houlders. Continue reading “Three Generations of Suffering”
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.
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 …
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,
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 –
When will it end?
For they now have bound me
in this dark dank hold.
This time I was broken,
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
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,
their crime is clear,
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
I truly forgive them,
for they are slow witted,
and not quite bright.
Dreadful men what have you done?
I will surely mark your crowns.
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
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
Author and counsellor Margaret Spivey lived in Children’s Homes from the age of 18 months to 17 years. ‘Warrior’s Journey’ is Margaret’s powerful poem tracing life in welfare and beyond.
‘Warrior’s Journey’ was published in Beyond the Tobacco Bush, Beyond the Cocoa Bean (2003), and Warrior’s Journey (2003).
sisters taken away.
No hand to cling to,
Ward number 77318
another number, another mouth,
another body, another untouched soul,
another heart to be healed,
another shadow in the dark of night.
She is two years old.
From one dwelling to another she is sent.
Disconnected, her child’s heart broken, the need for love
A vacuum for her confidence and sense of self;
anxiety and anger her constant companions
she struggles to belong, she doesn’t belong.
Hands shake, body trembles,
cries unheard, muffled under bed covers.
She is ten years old.
She thinks of death to escape the anguish.
She believes she has no right to take up space,
to breathe air.
She believes there will be rejoicing at her passing,
a problem solved.
She releases the genie in the bottle,
life goes on about her,
she closes her eyes and waits.
She is marked. She is spared.
Like the first born of the Israelites, the Angel of Death passes her by.
She is twelve years old.
Tormented by anger, a prisoner of rage.
Her cries for justice, she fights to be heard.
They say, ‘she’s a psychiatric case’
and needs to be medicated.
Silence her voice, dull her mind, and inhibit her strong emotions.
She must endure the rash, the itch, the weight gain, the hand tremors, and the sluggish thoughts.
Now they say ‘she’s boring with no powers of conversation’.
In school she sits, eyes heavy; she drops her head – just for a moment.
She sleeps her days away.
She is fourteen years old
She hears the call of the warrior soul.
She resists sedation; the murder of her spirit.
Pills hurtle across the fence, a cry goes out
‘I won’t do what you want any more!’
Strong male hands force her down, inject her into submission.
They say ‘it’s for her own good and for the good of others’.
She is ‘disturbed’, ‘mad’, emotionally retarded’.
She is fifteen years old.
She is released, pushed out into a world of strangers.
They don’t understand or care about her sorrow.
She must find work, forge relationships, and build a life. There is no help, there is no social net to catch her, and there is no family to
give her connection.
She must find her own way.
She is lost, jobs are transient, and relationships unravel.
Booze is her solace, drugs her respite, madness her rescuer.
The streets her home.
She is seventeen years old.
She is a mother;
how can she care for the infant in her arms?
She needs help, she reaches out,
her children are removed.
She can’t be trusted, she can’t trust herself.
It’s for her own good ‘in the best interest of the children’.
She seeks the comfort of death,
but death rejects her plea.
The ‘Warrior Soul’ calls her to life.
She yearns to be a mother, she craves to do it right,
Her children are ‘restored’,
She is twenty-four years old.
A single mother, living in poverty.
She hears the call of her warrior soul
She needs to dream, she needs to believe,
She needs to hope.
However, she is mad.
Her mind has betrayed her,
what can she anticipate?
The pills, the booze, the violence.
How can she break the will to self-annihilate?
She is determined.
She must find a way.
She is twenty-seven years old.
She treads the road of trials,
She cries out ‘there is no God!’
Lost within her madness,
admitted to the Clinic.
‘What is wrong with me?’ she pleads.
She is thirty-three years old.
The warrior soul is stronger
than the darkness, that binds her.
She heeds its call.
Is there a God? She prays to believe.
She dares for more than mere survival,
she crawls out from within the sewage of her life.
She is thirty-six years old.
Her untaught soul greets the morning.
She discovers she is far more than all her experiences.
More than her illness.
She knows now, in each one of us
there is a gold of great worth.
There is a warrior soul of strength and courage.
Compelled to transform her suffering.
she studies, she learns, she grows,
finds enduring love, personal value.
Passes on her hope,
helps others finds their way.
Sometimes death still whispers her name,
however, she grips the hand of the warrior within,
she has learnt to trust.
She has found power and strength within,
She is forty-five years old.
copyright Margaret Spivey 2003
Graham Evans, who was sent to st Vincent’s Boys Home, Westmead in 1962, has been contributing to this website since it began. Read Graham’s latest song lyrics.
Those Long Lost Years
If I could take you back to times when we were young
All these stories of abuse you hear, have not just begun
It’s been our life time, and no one can really see
Except the abused and my friends, what’s left to be
We’ll we fight for justice, and our equal rights
Because we’re fully pledged ‘Forgotten Australians’ both day and night
And we’re so tired of lying down with these silent tears
But! what do you expect, after all ‘Those Long Lost Years’
It’s been our life time, and no one want’s to see
Not the Churches, the Government’s themselves, nor Society
Well we’re so tired of lying down with these silent tears
But what do you expect after all ‘Those Long Lost Years’
Yah! It’s been our life time, and no one want’s to see
Not the Churches, the Governments themselves, nor Society
Well! we’re not going to lye down no more, we’re going to stand and fight for our cause
But what! do you expect, after all ‘Those Long Lost Years’
And what do you expect, after all ‘Those Long Lost Years’.
by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 8 June, 2011
Rachael Romero, who was in the The Pines, the Convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Plympton, South Australia, shares her drawing A Severed Life.
Rachael writes about her art work:
Those responsible for our incarceration were looking in the mirror.
How many lives cauterized?
How many hands maimed?
Girls not protected but stained by unwarranted and self-righteous religious and civil presumption of guilt.
Their persecuters were looking in the mirror.
by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 2 May, 2011
In 1971, Rachael Romero, soon after her release from The Pines (Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent), Plympton, SA, wrote a poem about how it felt to be indoctrinated.
Of Pines Indoctrination
A tattooed mind
with fear and cold
and logic warped
to please false aims
a cringing heart
a slaughtered soul
a bleeding confiscated mind
Deadened, buried lay my will
Hushed with fear and violent threat
Unwanted, stifled, broken, ill
stumbling on a stormy deck.
copyright Rachael Romero
by Barbara Lane (guest author) on 16 April, 2011
Barbara spent time as a child in Opal House, Opal Joyce Wilding Home, Wilson Youth Hospital, Vaughan House, The Haven and at Wolston Park Hospital (Osler House) between the years 1970 and 1979. Barbara is now the co-ordinator of the support group Now Remembered Australians Inc. In her poem One Man, Barbara pays tribute to Fr. Wally Dethlefs who helped to establish The Justice for Juveniles Group, previously known as the Wilson Protest Group. Wally also set up one of the first refuges for youth in Brisbane.
When I was young and in a place
Where no one seemed to care,
One man fought on my behalf
Though others would not dare.
I’d been told I had no rights
For I was “just a kid”,
But one man fought on my behalf
And showed me that I did.
They took away my childhood,
My freedom and the sky,
But one man fought on my behalf
When others would not try.
They locked me up in Wilson
But now I have the key
For one man fought on my behalf:
His name is Wally D.
by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 13 April, 2011
Rachael Romero, who was in The Pines (Convent of the Good Shepherd, Plympton) shares one of her poems:
This was written right after I left the Pines, Convent of the Good Shepherd. My friend Agi and I decided to feign a religious calling so we could “do rosary” in the chapel before dinner. We had our eyes on a high window that was not barred. To escape through it was a dream, but we persisted for weeks before abandoning the idea.
Furtive, stealthy in the gloom
The noise and cracks of a silent room
Every step an inch to free life
Every inch a step to new strife
Fear, regret, anticipation
Throbbing, pulsing, circulation.
“The window’s high, the glass is thick.
All I need’s a heavy brick.”
“But what of noise? – Someone will hear
They’ll keep us here another year”
“Agi come back it is too late
I hear a key at the staircase gate
Kneel down, kneel down, make out to pray
They may not even come this way
Our chance has gone, perhaps it’s best
Let’s go back, sit with the rest
I had no-where to go anyway
Trust “Sour Grapes” to cause delay”
copyright Rachel Romero
by Wendy Sutton (guest author) on 13 April, 2011
Wendy Sutton, a former inmate of The Pines (Convent of the Good Shepherd), Plympton, South Australia now lives in New York, USA. Here she shares her poetry.
Stuck in a Void
Are we stuck in a void, toiling with the end and the beginning?
escape then is inevitable
Or, is it a wanderlust for new experiences?
Western Culture suffocates & retards my senses and the very essence of who I am
Where do I go?
Is it deaths door of which I am finally arriving at, no satisfaction with this existence, no joy in sharing my “true” life.
Wendy Sutton Fe.2/1995 Australia
All my senses are alerted
By such a ballistic, turbulent chaos, so unsettling, and almost agonizing,
And yet so mysterious and alluring
But, without falter she continues to savage relentlessly to the end,
Only to slow such chaos for the ultimate caress of which still remains undivided. Joyous and so faithful and a never ending reliability that the very same secret devotion in which the sun rises and sets . . . . it is from the very depths of the ocean’s savagery that such delicate waves indubitably encounter the shore, with a gentle kiss.
This gives me so much strength, to know that no matter what the oceans wildest storm, the turbulence, the pain, the horror nor tragedy,
She blesses and transforms me with such courage and endurance, that through my own turbulence, I too will surely come to shore each and every time with a refreshed breathe of life, caressing the very existence of my horizons . . . . .
Wendy Sutton, NYC Monday 4th 2002
An English Manor, oh so Grand,
with an attic,
she used to frequent the attic,
from dawn till dusk,
draw she did.
A big woman, grey hair in a bun
Pale skin, not a blemish.
Straight and just off white.
She smells of English rose perfume,
a gentle subtle fragrance.
She’s dead now, My Grandmother.
I never knew her,
I never met her, not once.
Wendy Sutton -Darwin 1986-
It is a masterpiece of Nature
The perfect cup in which the rose bud is embedded, so striking and yet so
but held sturdy via the gallantry of her thorny stem
Two polarities set to deter anything that would destroy the unfolding exquisiteness of The Rose,
such protection,,,,,, not even expected,
it just is.
Wendy Sutton 2002 New York City
Watching with Intensity
It is watching the intensity of it all pass by me,
The escalation of the era, the history of which I dance within,
the dance that goes on,
the history changes day by day, to my titillation . . .
I smile with a passion quenched with adoration,
it has now come before me -in a manner of which- holds a glimpse of what is mere fetal,
thus, a touch of agony,
an abandon creativity that sets me free to infiltrate, ready to explode
the particles of which fall, with a gentle cascade, softly, slowly,
oh the beauty
feel the sensation, become a part of the Universal force
only to succeed another existence,
Wendy Sutton 1995
by Janice Konstantinidis (guest author) on 12 April, 2011
At the age of twelve, Janice was taken by her grandparents and father to Mount Saint Canice, one of the Magdalene Laundries. The laundry was run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Hobart, Tasmania. Now Janice lives in California, USA, where she enjoys writing and tending her beautiful garden. Here she shares one of her recent poems.
Buttercup yellow is the sun in brightest blue,
Dandelions, in paddocks, not green,
but browning and turning back to that dark earthy hue
and thickening of sounds are
cicadas and swarming bees,
and chirruping nests in trees
and winging insects fluttering honey
from marigolds, petunia and alyssum.
These are summer sweetness to me
and I lie face up.
The sun warms
my blood from the winter cold
into that deep warmth which is not the fragile one of spring.
I feel summer absorb me
and I record the growth of shrub and tree
by Rachael Romero (guest author) on 2 March, 2011
In these two original poetic works, Rachael Romero reflects on her experiences at The Pines, an institution for girls in Plympton, South Australia.
What is wild? by Rachael Romero, reflecting on entering The Pines
What is wild
Not meek, not mild
The stigmata of
against the will work,
to hands and minds
now and always
marks of experience–pain
Branded by injurious insult
religious tattooing of the mind
such as laundry work
side-by-side nail marks
Christ inflicted pain
cigarette burns to
know what Jesus felt.
the identifiable stigma of slaves
hard labour institutions,
on my body
the same wounds
symbols of pain
marks of ancient inmate identification by order of the church, state order.
by Rachael Romero
by Graham Evans (guest author) on 22 February, 2011
This is a song by Graham Evans, a resident of St Michael’s Home, Baulkham Hills, 1958 to 1962 and St Vincent’s Boys Home, Westmead, 1962 to 1966.
by Garry Shooks (guest author) on 7 February, 2011
Poet Garry Shooks writes about the importance of marbles as currency in the Children’s Home in I’ve got the lot. In The House Without Keys, Garry writes about he and his fellow residents who don’t have access to the keys of the institution. Life’s a blur is a testimony to past experiences and what matters now.
I’ve Got The Lot
I never fudged or cheated, but I got the lot.
Tom bowlers, bird cages and cats eye’s are what we call em.
There marbles you know and they’re worth a lot.
For with em you are important and with out you are not.
I started with a couple and by golly I played till I had the lot.
The boys would moan cause I ended with the lot.
So I’d swap for what you got,
Weed draw a circle in the dirt, not to small and not to big, then throw in your lot.
You’d balance on the tips of your fingers at the circles edge and have a shot.
The birdcagess you’d swap the tom bowlers not, cats eyes not for they were worth a lot.
I filled a sack and was a great shot.
Till the day I lost the lot for sir cheated and took the lot.
I’ve never had another shot.
The House Without Keys
Halls are long, doors are many and all the doors have locks,
But we have not the keys to undo the locks.
We are young and scared standing in our lines in long straight rows,
Staring at our spot,
Wishing wishing we had the keys to the locks.
Sir would undo the locks.
Keys would jingle when he undid the locks,
Marched forward into the next spot till you hear the door close
And he’d lock the lock.
Line up beside your bed to kneel and say the Lord’s Prayer,
Into bed with out a whisper as trouble you did not want.
You’d hear the cries at times as we had been forgot,
In the end the tears you forgot as for love there was not.
The dreams were of the time that you could remember the family they said you had not.
Work was hard and the times you never forgot,
But the memories are painful and you try not to recall what you
The birthdays came and went till the Key opened the lock,
Into the world that you had forgot, suitcase in hand, were are they now the brothers and sisters you had not forgot,
A life sentence in a place time had forgot, To this day I try to find my lot, the years have beaten me and the taste of sadness is with me a lot,
Cap in hand I go to the keepers who had the keys seeking the ones I had not forgot,
May the lord grant me time to get to find em as I have never forgot,
Forgotten Australians we are called, and yet I’m proud to be Australian, but the misery and pain has never been forgot,
Remember us as we fall for we were brother’s sister’s one and all.
We never ask for the life we got.
Life’s a blur
Scared and frightened I was as the policeman said listen hear you lot,
Mum will be back sooner then not,
The hours of the dark I cried a lot.
They called it a home but it was not.
Polish, sweat and spit was our lot,
Polish the floors on your knees with the rhythm of youth till your arms wanted to fall off.
Brass door knobs that you polished till they looked new,
You’d scrub the pots better then new to get out the burnt stew.
Nuggets the shoe’s, and polish, and rub with a bit of spit to clean the dirty spot.
Then if you were unlucky get to chop the wood for the boiler, and fill the coal bin like it or not.
The days were long, tears unheard for you were a ward of the state that was your lot.
Years came and went and I did grow.
I hate the bloody lot.
Old I am with tiredness of walking life’s path.
The years are shorter now and the memories hurt,
Tears of sadness have spoiled the lot.
Love your children they are worth a lot.
by Peter Knight (guest author) on 7 July, 2010
Lana Syed forwarded this poem, written by fellow resident of Nudgee Orphanage, Peter Knight who died earlier this year:
Please help me, a faint childlike voice calls.
Please help me, I am scared and lost in this
strange misty world.
I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s because
I am a welfare child.
Please help me, don’t let me die in this isolated
state of mind.
Believe me, please, I am sorry my mother was too
ill to take good care of us, and I am also very sorry
that my dad died.
I am very, very sorry for that time when I came to you
and begged for food, but I was so very hungry and
didn’t know what else to do.
I know that the tiny morsels of food that you gave us, so
you have often enough said, would feed an African family
for a week, so even if I’m hungry, I promise not to ask for
more, and I’m sorry I never look neat enough, and for the
way my clothes seem to fall apart at will.
I know that you are kind, kind people, so I have been told, work
your fingers to the bone to care for the likes of us welfare
kids. All I can say is that I’m sorry for being such an
ungrateful welfare child, and I promise to take the shame
and guilt you laid on me, to the grave.
© 2000 Peter Knight
by Gloria Lovely (guest author) on 17 June, 2010
Gloria Lovely was taken to St Vincent’s Orphanage, Nudgee, Queensland, in 1943, when she was 18 months old. She was then sent to a foster family at the age of ten. Here, in an excerpt from the book Lives of Uncommon Children – Reflections of Forgotten Australians (2009, Micah Projects – Queensland), and her poem A Child’s Despair (2005), Gloria writes about her experience in foster care.
He was murdering me. He was murdering me every day. I didn’t want to wake up of a morning because I knew what I might face. Another day of fear. Have to hurry, do the chores, then off to school – an escape. I’m free of fear there for a while, a positive advantage. School is the best time of day, learning to be smart and a little educated, making me feel good.
I absolutely love to learn, anything and everything, trying to fill my mind with knowledge, and remembering it all. I loved going to school; it was my sanctuary, but then I had to go back to my foster home, my home of fear and dread. And my foster parents. My foster father was a sinful man, using my body for his sexual gratification. No on else knew he was doing it on a weekly basis. It was my hell; he was destroying my spirit, and my foster mother was very cruel, punishing me for not doing the chores right. Like scorching a white shirt, peeling too much skin off the potatoes and onions.
But to the people of the community, they were such wonderful people, because they fostered other children from the orphanage as well, and going to church every Sunday, letting people know they were looking after their foster children. What wonderful people, but behind the scenes, behind closed doors, we foster children were suffering daily. What a charade. We were their slaves, and I was his bedroom slave. I was the housewife in every sense of the word.
Hence my thinking of him killing me – killing every part of my being, my soul, my all. Who can I turn to? No one. Were the other foster children feeling the same as I? Are they living in their own hell? Do they fear them as much as I do? I feel they would like to go back to the orphanage like I would. Oh, please God, help us all. This is the part of my life which I was lucky enough to survive this living hell. It is in the past now, and I thank my lucky stars that it came to an end when it did, and I grew to adulthood.
A Child’s Despair
(From Orphanage to Foster Care)
A girl-child sleeps at night
A stranger, she is not, to fright
She wakes, suddenly,
“Will he come tonight?”
This poor unfortunate, in such a plight.
To these unkind people she was sent,
No one knew, they were so bent.
Her body, he took, by force, times again
“My God, protect me”, once again.
“Our secret”, he says, “do not tell”.
His sick mind, he hid so well
And her (so cruel) she could not tell
That belt, the belting she could foretell.
She screams in her soul, no one can hear
She cannot cry out, she lives in fear.
Her body tells day by day
People do not read that way
“The child is slow,
She was born that way”.
Over the days, months and years
She carried on, despite her fears.
She now has grown to womanhood,
And all she likes to give…..is good.
by Gloria Lovely (guest author) on 17 June, 2010
Barbara spent time as a child in Opal House, Opal Joyce Wilding Home, Wilson Youth Hospital, Vaughan House, The Haven and at Wolston Park Hospital (Osler House) between the years 1970 and 1979. Here are Barbara’s poems Remembering Osler House, Time, Tomorrow, Too Much!, Young and Word Games.
Remembering Osler House.
Screams echo down the hallway of my mind, as they did the cells
and hallways of that house of endless horrors, through the years.
My body still remembers all the shame of what I witnessed,
And the corrosive, all-pervasive acid-urine smell of fears.
I was thirteen years.
The sobbing, wailing background noise that ate away the night;
The soul-shattering, too-sudden… cessation of the screams,
These joined the tortured memories I buried in the abyss,|
To carve away my childhood, brutally, as they stole my dreams.
I was only thirteen.
The milling, naked bodies in the showers with no doors;
The excrement and sanitary pads, my first time, on the floors.
Betrayed by my own government, the state that had my care,
In an adult asylum for the criminally insane; I’d pulled out all my hair.
I was only a child.
Hollow-eyed people, shock-treatment blank, helpless,
And no longer knowing their names;
The intellectually disabled and terrified children
Still haunt in their drugged, bruised and bare-naked shame.
I was thirteen years old.
Master of Earth,
Dictator by Nature,
With Universal Power,
Sits in His Tower,
Solving all mystery,
Success or Failure,
Truth or Lie,
By and by.
In Time you’re paid
What you’ve earned;
In Time the hands
Of clocks are turned;
In Time understand what,
With Time, you have learned.
Of Past and Future;
Undefeated, Eternal Master:
Won’t move slower,
Won’t move faster.
His Word is Law;
You can’t break away.
There’s nothing more:
There’s just Today.
Whatever it is,
it’s always left…
Just a slight delay…
But not Today.
Today we are
Dreaming and planning
It’ll be a big day
with all that we have planned
Too many thoughts
Too much to think about.
Too many thoughts,
And too many thoughts
That I could do without!
Too many people
all in my thoughts:
Wish they’d all go away.
Too much can happen,
And all crammed into
A twenty-four hour day.
Too many things
that I should do
When I don’t want to do any.
Too many people;
Too many thoughts;
You can grow old,
‘Though you were born young.
With impermanence weak,
You can be strong.
And, yes, you can walk,
‘Though you’re learning to crawl.
You have an idea,
Yet younger, saw all.
For you can eat fruit,
‘Though you suck from the nipple:
A stone’s throw’s a universe,
Seen through a ripple.
But always know this:
What you are, you can be.
You can open each door:-
Only you have the key.
I wrap words around their intent,
And knock pretext to its knees.
I push protests off their perches,
And with words, do as I please.
I pack speech with all its content,
And condemn the need to tell
With embellishment and pretence,
‘Cause exaggeration’s hell.
I write off the need for falseness,
And I verily will say
That all politic diplomacy’s
In over-use today.
I like truth without adornment,
(If the garnish leads to lies),
With no semblance of pretension,
With no mask and no disguise.
by Sue Treweek (guest author) on 10 June, 2010
Sue Treweek was a resident of Abbortsford Convent from 1968 – 1970. At the age of 11, she was sent to Warilda, in Brisbane. She was also a resident of the Bush Children’s Home in 1973 and Nudgee Orphanage from 1978 – 1979, both in Queensland.
For the simple act of rocking herself to sleep, the nuns sent Sue, at the age of 12, to Lowson House, a mental health ward at the Royal Brisbane Hospital. Even though the psychiatric assessment stated that she was not mentally ill, no children’s homes would take her and so she was admitted to Wilson Youth Hospital. She was then transferred to Osler House, from 1980- 1988, the maximum security ward for adult female psychiatric patients at Wolston Park Hospital. A feature-length documentary film is current being made about her life: Scab Girl Asylum.
Sue has founded No-Problem Cleaning Services which provides:
Here are Sue’s poems; Remember Them, Those Poor Souls, Out of the Ashes, A Child Cries, Jesus Loves the Little Children, People of the Cloth and Those of Faith Stand Up.
Remember them, those poor souls
Today I sit and wonder what became of them, those poor souls I left behind.
A deep sadness fills my soul.
Their bodies racked by illnesses confusing to some.
Their pain can’t be seen only heard through their cries for help.
The uncertainty to what is real; a deep fear dismissed, no logic found by those in charge.
Still these people feel the pain no rest for them those poor souls.
An act of ignorance papers are signed another poor soul loses their rights.
Abused and dehumanized in the name of therapy their worst fears are realized.
Not knowing any different they settle in to a life of pain and uncertainty no mercy for them those poor souls.
Awake again the daily ritual begins, the turn of a key their here again, who this shift, will they be cruel or kind, showered and dressed wait to eat pills to take before you eat.
The drugs take hold the voices are silent for awhile, reality strikes as for a brief moment they remember what once was their life as the memories flood in, tears well in their eyes as they wonder what is happening to them, and for those who have never known different they wonder why were born not right.
Cruel words spoken sink to their soul those they trust hardest of all, told they are unacceptable till they can bear it no more succumb to the pain you know you must, sent away from societies eyes, stay away you must.
Their silent screams for understanding and acceptance fall on deaf ears only those innocents that watch their suffering yet have no power, hear their screams and remember them.
In dreams and on the wind they hear and understand those poor souls and will never forget.
The turn of a key they’re back again what today when will death come for me.
For some death does come like an angel in the night, swept away on the wings of an angel they feel no more pain.
Accepted now for who they are at peace within no fear, the confusion is gone.
Shame on those trusted to care, forget them not, those poor souls.
Out of the ashes
Out of the ashes we walk alone charred from the flames of a childhood
Spent in care,
Still we live luckier than some, are we.
In shock we wander through life wondering what could have been, had we been dealt a different hand.
Each day a challenge just to stay, still we stand alone,
The beginning of new, for some bring life to our world, a child to love maybe a spouse
Feelings of joy replaced by pain, the battle begins, learn the mistakes of those who had the
power, don’t repeat, or the next generation will walk alone from out of the ashes they to will
Packaged now, for justice and change, not with out more pain to come for those who speak out,
we watch as one by one our generations fade no justice found; finally, now they listen to those
who walked alone.
United we stand, now our voice is strong and clear, grouped together for effect and support,
some sink deep from the weight of their past others wander in shock yet again, a few move on
and realize their dreams.
The fight renewed society screams out in anger as more with power are exposed, fear have some
who carry their guilt, with the knowledge they failed their duty of care.
To the top they walk together, on common ground that binds them all.
Their voice is loud, all can hear; people with position back them in their fight.
In disbelief they watch society and government react with guilt and remorse
Promises made that have no truth, reports and recommendations gather dust.
Too late for some the changes come rest in peace with the knowledge your fight is over. For those
left behind the fight continues till no other will suffer as they did and history will show that those
who had the courage tasted victory and realized their dreams.
A child cries;
A child of 13 sits waiting to be judged, two sisters of god sit either side.
A woman in white flanked by two men, approach the child, and lead her to hell.
The lift rises from floor to floor the sound of screams shoots fear to her core.
A child cries.
A woman screams for help no one listens the child listens and wants to help.
A naked woman sees the child looking through the small holes into the cell.
Help me child tell someone. The child tells but no mercy to be found for her.
A woman yells as her delusions take hold you child you are the one,
my children are dead, you the devils child you must be punished.
Punched in the head as another patient act’s out her delusions, many more to come, weakest are you.
Confusion sets in.
A child cries.
A woman quenches her thirst; cup of urine in her hand, down it goes no thought of what.
She turns on the child and it starts again more abuse, no escape to be found,
she can’t help it she’s sick is the reply.
The child protests and is punished, labelled, drugged and isolated now she knows she is in hell.
A child cries
Another day passes in hell assessed and processed yet again no illnesses found.
Frustration by all at no illness found labels are many. The child is confused,
words slice deep into the child as her soul dies, fear is overcome by rage.
A child cries
This child learns fast the hell she is in.
Punished for differences that make her stand out told she must change she wonders into what.
Caught again banging her head no harm has she done, remove her pillow see if she stops
Taunted and teased by staff, who must make this child conform it is their job.
A child cries
The child fights to change without knowing into what.
Hides her head banging by rocking side to side with care not to be caught.
Not acceptable was this, manipulative is she
Punished again for inappropriate behaviour and dress, back in the cell.
A child cries
Another Dr out of bed another needle in her leg, Striped naked and left in this cold dark cell,
Drugs take hold to cold to sleep, sat on the floor back to the wall,
rocking front to back the only comfort to be found,
prayed for sleep my only friend or death, either will do.
Awake again in this cold dark hell as the child fights her body’s pain.
Fear of death, her screams are now ignored by those who care.
Her pleas to be let out are dismissed as attention seeking, don’t listen or it could reinforce,
teach her a lesson, more time for her in that cold hard hell.
Pain shoots through her body as she holds in the wee, mustn’t have an accident no toilet to use.
A puddle in the corner sometimes more to be punished for, shame, shame on you, you dirty girl.
Judgement is made out of ignorance and frustration, trapped in hell.
A child cries as her childhood dies.
Jesus loves the little children
A child sits cold and terrified by those charged to care
No thought of the future the child will conform
Break its spirit destroy its faith make it take the pain
It cries for mercy none to be found
Abused and left in that cold hard cell, their guilt is hidden deep in their souls
Mistakes are many the child waits, and rebels the pain enforced
By those charged to care, in the depths of hell the child remembers the song once heard which comforted her before.
A deep breath the pain subdued, as the child remembers the words through her drugged state,
they tell her to shut up and stop those words she struggles to stand as they knock her down again,
still she sings that song from deep inside her soul, the words strike hard the consciences of them all,
in their sleep they can’t escape, these words haunt them and always will as they remember the child they continued to abuse in that cold dark hell
Her only weapon the verse of a song called Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world, red and yellow black and white, all are precious in his sight.
Fury spurred by their guilt, they attack the child no thought for her,
Shut her up she must not sing, this song is an attack we must, stop, how dare she sing this song.
The despair is relieved by the words she sings, her pain is comforted by the one she can’t see, but sing his name, louder now for all to hear
She gathers strength from the words she sings, with the knowledge she is loved by one who cares.
With her faith she takes it all, sometimes wondering if she will finally die and meet her friend, the one who stood by her side through all the pain and suffering, he was there,
He sacrificed his life to save our souls, now he stands beside this child,
She feels his presence in that cell, fear subsides, she is not alone.
Til the next wave of pain in the name of therapy and discipline, is enforced upon the child, til
she can take no more, again Jesus stands by her side and shares her pain.
The lord watches the struggle, as the child fights to hold on to her faith,
The lord steps in and takes her soul, wraps it in his arms protect it he can, what’s left will survive or join her soul.
Grown now is the child, survived the past her soul intact, an act of mercy from the lord he saved her soul, only now she sees the truth and knows she must never forget.
The love of the lord out lives it all.
What’s left of shattered dreams
As a child we dream of years to come with innocence and a sense we can.
An astronaut will I be, a doctor, nurse, teacher, I’ll climb the highest mountains.
Or a general in charge of a war
Or a ballerina a great dancer or maybe a mother that cares
All to soon we learn we can’t, as our dreams are stripped from us one by one,
Left with what could have been if dealt a different lot.
Trying to dream the child has forgotten how,
What a shame is what we hear, that child could have been.
The ones who lived there dreams are now the ones who destroy,
Feeding on the child as does the ravenous beast to its prey,
As dignity and innocence are replaced by fear and humility,
The child learns from those told to care, how worthless they truly are
As they endure the horrors dealt out to them their soul shudders at more to come and their dreams turn into nightmares relived day after day
No harm done the child will forget, we will rehabilitate it
As they rehabilitate what they cannot see and fear to be to be true.
More dreams die, till soon the child fears to dream and is lost,
As those who have the power wonder why.
The child grows and wonders what could have been.
Now an adult their dreams are new but tainted by the child within.
They dream of simple things now, like getting through one more day.
Nothing soothes there soul as they prey for death their only friend.
Some did not give in, they still struggle to dream, only now there dreams are of a better life, a life of peace and fullness they have never known,
They refuse to give in fighting for their lives they believe they can.
To their graves they take there dreams some never knowing how close they came.
Forgotten by those who stole their dreams, passed of as a mistake made so many years before by those told to care
No remorse for the devastation caused.
PEOPLE OF THE CLOTH
Care for those unfortunate kids, sent to you with no place to call home
Treat them well for judgment day will come for you all
The lord watches on as you do your best to uphold his word
Remember well he sees it all
As he watches the evil take hold of his people as they hide behind his name, they turn away from him and act out their evil on those defenseless souls,
Not a thought for judgment day.
The children sent to his house, betrayed and abused they stand in line,
Jesus came he loves them all his sacrifice was for them,
The lord his son by his side, watches as more souls are damaged by his people.
They are turned by evil yet preach his name
They use his name to justify their evil, first to the children then their peers,
All listen to them powerful are they.
The lord is saddened by the pain of his children, he watches and remembers them.
Those who came to him for sanctuary, now turn away thinking he has forgotten them
They can not see the sadness in his soul.
He sends a message only headed by some, those of the cloth fear me now for your judgment day will come, no mercy will I have, on those who abused my children from
behind the cloth.
People of the cloth chosen by him, to care for the children, our future cloth,
Those, whose faith is strong, separate the lord from the evil ones,
They stand by their faith to the end and the lord welcomes them
His arms open, they are home.
One by one the evil ones draw close to their end.
The lord waits with his son by his side, to pass judgment on them
As the day draws closer panic sets in, no more can they hide behind the cloth
The time has come for those of the cloth, to answer for their sins.
Brutal is the lord on those of the cloth, they betrayed him from within.
THOSE OF FAITH STAND UP
Unite as one within his sight.
Send a message to all who have faith to join as one, unite your souls to right the wrongs and embrace a future free of shattered children.
Welcome home his lost souls those who suffered a childhood shattered by those of twisted faith.
Only then can future generations of our faith be freed from those who betrayed the lord from within, cleanse his house renew the faith and trust lost by so many.
Heal the wounds of past injustices embrace the children past present and future, make a difference their will be no more evil within his house , gather strength from those who suffered in his house for only they hold the key and know the way, it is within they must see.
Remain united till the end the lord will see and join the fight together we will rejoice cleansing the cancer which threatens our faith.
The sky will open the earth renewed from his tears of joy
Remember well the lord sees it all.
by Rhonda Trivett (guest author) on 10 May, 2010
In 1967, at the age of eight, Rhonda was placed in Sandgate Home, Brisbane, while her mother tried to cope with the death of Rhonda’s father. Because Rhonda was dyslexic and became frustrated with her inability to read, she ran away from school. As a result, she was admitted to a locked ward in the Winston Noble Unit, a mental health facility attached to the Prince Charles Hospital at Chermside, Brisbane. She was later admitted to Lowson House, a mental health ward at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and then transferred to Wilston Youth Hostel. At the age of 13 she was admitted to a maximum security ward for adult female psychiatric patients (Osler House) at Wolston Park Hospital where she remained until she was 21 years of age.
Here is her poem, describing how her mother’s love helped her.
by Pamella Vernon (guest author) on 29 April, 2010
I know of childhood !
I know about children
lost and vulnerable,
of anger and confusion,
torn from all, good and bad,
that represented for them
home, love and security.
I know about loneliness.
into an alien environment,
seeking solace for grief,
hungry for kind words,
an embrace for sobs of need.
Children desperate for some
semblance of normality in the
I know of childhood
need for memories,
a link to a past,
with which to relate,
in an overwhelming sea of
or ignorant complacency.
I know of childhood emptiness.
A parent’s death,
the pain of unresolved grief,
separation and loss,
kept secret, unshared,
Young minds and hearts in trauma,
seeking sense in their
I know of childhood perceptions.
Emotionally sterile environment as
punishment, for perceived self-
loss of love as unworthiness.
What did I do wrong?
Come and take me home,
I’ll be good, I promise,
I know of childhood acceptance.
Submersion of needs for love,
affection, human warmth,
along with cherished memories
buried deep in the psyche,
in order to survive
in an emotional void.
I know about subterfuge!
Powerless, defenseless confusion.
A child branded and maligned,
Liar! Bad Seed! Scum!
because of truth
argued on deaf ears.
Physical & emotional separation
from siblings. Punishment!
because Secrets had to be kept.
I know about insincerity,
for the ‘right to be’
for the necessities to sustain life,
a compulsory component of
I know about Doctrine!
The ethos of
“The sins of the father
visited upon the child”.
The ripping apart of belief
in treasured memories,
in the name of
“Saving” the child.
A ‘decent God fearing upbringing’
at any cost!
I know about Religion!
of God presented as a
“God of anger” vengeful, jealous,
the punisher of sin.
The ‘Love’ of God….
I know about “Good People”!
Who could never stay……
I know about lies,
even where truth was irrefutable,
about smothered individualism,
initiative and spirit,
under the guise of ‘benevolence’.
I know about the few good people
who could never stay,
they managed the fine balance of
‘job’ with personal humility,
They made a difference in our
however slight they may think,
in a system that enshrined a
religious and caring ethos,
in a separatist ideology.
The “needy” poor,
seen as the agents
of their own destiny,
socially and morally bankrupt.
I know about adulthood!
I understand emotional survival
adopted by children under threat,
to survive pain, trauma,
abandonment and displacement.
I know about ‘Growing up’!
The pain of being invisible,
unwanted & used
the constraints of life fulfillment,
of self-responsibility for life choices,
the futility of emotional baggage,
as an excuse or crutch.
I am the product of Nature
I am the product of lack of Nurture.
I take responsibility for me,
my actions, my thoughts,
I know pain of failure,
elation in triumph,
regret for lost opportunities.
I accept the myriad facets
of my character.
I know about Reflections!
Contemplation of childhood
can be a painful, funny journey
the dichotomy for all
Forgotten Australian’s childhoods.
Our sharing of stories
the sadness, the pain,
the isolation, the abuse
I know about the fun, gaiety,
merriment and pleasures,
we the Forgotten Children,
We the Forgotten Australians
derived from each other
and shared in the reconstructed
families We created
That ensures the balance
is not lost in the dross.
I know about indebtedness! we all
bring to each other today,
not only our personal experiences
but also our adult acceptance,
maturity and diversity.
We share the need for roots
firmly anchored in a sense
of family ties and traditions,
that we the unwanted,
and the forgotten
can only truly understand.
Thank you my fellow
for being the catalyst for
“The spirit of the extended
we never had”
© 2000 Yvonne Vernon – all rights reserved
Yvonne Vernon was a resident of Dalmar Children’s Home, New South Wales, from 1950 to 1958. This poem, posted by her sister, was read by Jim Luthy and Pamella Vernon at the New South Wales Government’s Healing Service and Memorial Unveiling, for those who grew up in institutions, orphanages, children’s homes and foster homes, in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, on 19 September 2009.
by Wayne Miller (guest author) on 23 April, 2010
WHEN A BOY CRIED
When a boy cried, no one listened,
When a boy cried, no one gave him succor,
When a boy cried, no one gave him peace,
When a boy cried, no one saw the pain,
When a boy cried, there was no saviour
When a boy cried, there was no God.
In bliss he was borne, in hell he was delivered,
In innocence he came, in damnation he left,
His protectors were revered, his tormentors were spared,
His world was his hatred, his reality his fantasy,
His torture his brother, his rape his sister,
In dreams he sought comfort, but only found horror,
He read with fear, of catholic inquisition,
He lived with dread, its inception,
This boy, this survivor, of Christian Brother fervor.
When this man cried, in agony of his memories,
Still nobody listened to his tale of horror,
Who could hear his muted brain, screaming,
Save me from this living hell, you evil men in black!
When the boy in the man cried, they looked the other way!?
The sands my feet touch, as I stroll
Along the lonely beach of life
Have been finely ground, over countless centuries
The echoing corridors of my mind, were created over
It is an endless walk, this stroll through time
And as you hear the echoes, and feel the fear
Even as you suffer the loneliness, the pain, the sadness
You keep searching,
Is there a chance there is a you in everyone
Can you touch your very soul as you shake hands
Does your soul cringe, at the very thought of strolling through
As you turn each corner, enter each room of your experiences
are you scared of your own
Confrontations, the reality, that yes,
That is really you.
If so, be not afraid,
for it is you who makes the difference
between the knowledge that you are an individual
the knowledge that who you are will never change
and it is this very essence that makes life so interesting
so abundantly clear to all who perceive you.
So as you stroll through those corridors, let the pain be eased
By the memories of the good times,
Those precious moments in time when you could laugh and cry
For it is in these memories that you will find you.
by Leigh Westin (guest author) on 2 March, 2010
We are “The Forgotten Australians”,
Whose childhood was taken from us.
Put in homes and orphanages
for doing “NO” wrong.
Some of us became state wards,
The welfare and the government
treated us like scum.
A lot were abused in all shapes &
forms & could tell no-one.
We are worthy we are strong
coming together, we are “ONE”.
We were called “liars and thieves”.
government authorities we could never
Our minds & bodies were broken,
by people who didn’t care.
No play! No love! To us it wasn’t fair.
We had NO voice, we had NO choice!
& nothing to rejoice.
No birthdays! No christmas! No toys!
we were lost little girls and boys.
Who were our families?
We were left with horrendous memories.
We prayed to god to help us,
but his followers let us down.
On our own, abandoned and put down.
We are worthy, we are strong
coming together, we are “ONE”.
We are troubled & tormented
our lives forever changed.
We are proud & free to agree.
Childhood memories are forever
tattooed in our hearts.
With our strength & friendship the
tattoos will hopefully fade from our
We are worthy, we are strong
coming together we are “ONE”.
We are “The Forgotten Australians”
& together we will sing out loud.
Now we hold our heads up high
& together we are proud.
People will remember “us” & all that we
have been through.
We could be your neighbours or even
your best friend.
So remember us until we reach the end.
We are worthy, we are strong
coming together we are “ONE”.
by Beth Pinkerton (guest author) on 22 February, 2010
I didn’t really have any memories until I saw the ad in the paper for the Parragirls Reunion and Hay trip.
I wasn’t in Hay, but I went.
Sitting in that bus with all the women, was the first time I have ever felt I fit in.
I remember the girls coming back from Hay.
The way they came to attention and the way they looked at the floor.
The Hay girls were the best bit of advertising Parramatta ever did.
Their behaviour terrified me.
What had happened to them to make them like that?
I kept that in mind when I was sent out to work from Bethal.
I had seen the superintendent so many times ‘visiting’ a girl in Bethal.
So when I refused to go back out to work, because the man I worked for was assaulting me. Our superintendent made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Either go back out to work and let that man have sex with me, or, go to Hay.
I took the first option.
I came out of that place broken.
I stayed that way until I gave up using when I was 48.
I am now 58.
My life only really started when I turned 50.
All those years wasted in violent relationships and addiction.
I went to the apology on the bus with the Parragirls.
I cried because I saw so many men and women like me, broken and ill.
I cried because finally we had been acknowledged.
But for me sorry isn’t enough.
But it’s a start.