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

The Enduring Legacy

by Andrew Murray (guest author) on 14 November, 2011

“Institutional abuse does not stop when we age out of the system”. Former Senator Andrew Murray shares the essay that he co-authored with Dr Marilyn Rock The Enduring Legacy of Growing up in Care in 20th Century Australia. Continue reading “The Enduring Legacy”

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,
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,
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,
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

events, Forgotten Australians, memories, music, photos

Memorial song

by Adele Chynoweth on 3 June, 2011

Alan Bowles, who grew up in a Salvation Army Home, shares ‘Forgotten’, the song he wrote and performed at the unveiling of the Victorian memorial to Forgotten Australians, in Melbourne on 25 October 2010.

Attendees of the apology by the Salvation Army to former residents of children homes, Old Parliament House, Canberra.

[2020 note: audio file no longer available]

Hear more of Alan’s music on the Australian Johnny Cash & June Carter Show MySpace website

Forgotten Australians, memories, photos

Our day to clean the dining room floor

by Heather Templeman (guest author) on 31 May, 2011

Heather Templeman shares of photo of herself, aged 13, at Catherine Booth Salvation Army Girls Home.

Heather says:

It was our day to wash and polish the dining room floor. It was really quite big. We had already been on our hands and knees from washing the floor. After the floor had dried, we had to get down on our hands and knees again and rub the polish on. So our knees were sore so we thought well, we’ll go and get some rags and put them on our feet and run up and down and polish the floor that way and have some fun. We got a hiding for it but we had fun.
The photo was taken before we cleaned the dining room and it was taken by the Gardener. Can’t remember his name but have another photo he took of me and another girl. He liked the other girl a lot so he only got half of me in it. Pity as it would have been a nice photo. It was Captain C. who caught us but Matron who gave us the hiding, but it wasn’t as bad as what her other ones were.

Photo courtesy of CLAN

Melita and Heather (right) with rags on their feet ready to polish the floor.
Melita and Heather (right) with rags on their feet ready to polish the floor.
Photo courtesy of CLAN
Forgotten Australians, memories, photography, photos

Apology from the Salvation Army

by Adele on 19 January, 2011

On 7 December, 2010, at Old Parliament House, Canberra, the international leader of The Salvation Army, General Shaw Clifton issued a national apology to former residents of Salvation Army Homes. The National Museum of Australia photographed some of those who attended the apology.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Responding to the National Apology

Underneath there’s a lot of scarring

by Ron (guest author) on 15 November, 2010

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


My name is Ron and I am 61 years old. I am here today for the Forgotten Australians apology by Kevin – sorry, Mr Rudd. I have mixed feelings about it. One is that an apology after 60 years of basic abuse by the Salvation Army where I was incarcerated when I was 11 years old, that sort of thing, with the physical abuse and sexual abuse, it’s always something hard to get over.

I found my time at Box Hill Boys Home to be enjoyable in some aspects in as much basically we all went to school together and we did create some sort of brotherhood. But what happens when you got to about 14 or 15 in those days, you got shipped out to farms or put to work, and once you got a job you were basically taken out of the home.

In my situation I went to work on my uncle’s farm, but prior to that I was in a youth hostel in Auburn which is a suburb of Melbourne. Once again encountered the same effects from the Salvation Army, which is probably contradictory to what they preach. But you learn to live and move on, you know. Some people think I am fairly well adjusted which I am on the exterior, but underneath there’s probably a lot of scarring, if I can use those words.

I have come from Victoria today for the apology. It carries a fair bit of significance for me because, having been in institutions, I find there is a little bit of contradiction in as much as I don’t hold the federal government responsible, I hold the state governments responsible because the state governments are the ones who subsidised all the church institutions.

I recognise that Mr Rudd wants to apologise but I also recognise that the apology probably should have come from other areas, which include the state governments at that time and also churches responsible for not only the abuse in my particular area but the abuse in other institutions. Without those apologies from those particular areas we just won’t move on. People talk to me about closure but I don’t think there is such a thing as closure unless you confront the demons that create the problems.

Since I arrived here last night, we came up earlier the day before the actual apology, we were all put into hotels and I had a very distinct pleasure last night of catching up with two of my former home people – I don’t know what word to use. After 50 years seeing these people and talking to them, it’s just like a long-lost family, you know, it’s very hard. These are decent blokes. There is nothing untoward about them at all.

We basically had our own brotherhood, if I can use that word. But also I mustn’t forget there was Indigenous boys in the home too. They were accepted as black and white sort of thing, there was no discrimination. We stood by each other even at tech school. If there was a blue at tech school, they’d be behind you looking after you. I have that much respect for Indigenous culture because of that.

Let me just tell you one thing. One of the things that has plagued me since I was probably 18 or 19, this is a fact that I’ve been married twice, and most of the people you speak to who are here today will tell you they have been married twice at least. What causes that – one of the sad tragic things about being in an institution is that it takes away that feeling of love. Even when you get married the first time, you find it very difficult for someone to come and hug you, for someone to love you, for you to tell someone that you love them too. It is one of the most difficult things to live through for 50 years, that sort of situation. I know because I’ve been married twice, and the first marriage broke up because of that and probably a couple of other factors associated with being in the boys home, for instance violence, like domestic violence, which I have managed to curb.

Also in the second marriage my wife was probably a little bit more intelligent and probably a little bit more forgiving. And at this stage I have got three children who are adults and I have got two young children. My life is pretty good at this stage. It could all go pear-shaped any time.

Have I forgiven the Salvation Army? No, no way. Until I go to the grave there is no way I will forgive the Salvation Army and the associated people with them. What they created was a monster, really for the last 50 years plus.

art, documents, drawing, Forgotten Australians, memories

A tormented life

by Warren Porter (guest author) on 28 April, 2010

Warren and his younger brother Graham were placed in their first institution when they were 4 and 2 years old. They endured the next decade and a half in various institutions, training farms and – despite being under age – jail.

In telling their story, Warren includes evidence such as photographs and documents, as well as vivid descriptions and drawings such as the following:

It was around June 1959 when my mate Charlie and I were making plans to p*** off from the Brook but made the mistake of telling this new boy who wanted to come with us about what we were going to do.

To read more of Warren’s story, download the extract from his illustrated book (PDF 1.8mb). The book is now in the National Library of Australia.