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,
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

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

R U OK?

Should every day be an R U OK? Day? R U OK? is a non-profit Australian organisation which aims to provide a national focus and leadership on suicide prevention.

R U OK? Day is Thursday 15 September 2011. You can read more at the R U OK? website

Child Migrants, documents, memories

Welcome walls

by Oliver Cosgrove (guest author) on 8 August, 2011

The names of Child Migrants from Britain and Malta are included on commemorative panels erected in Fremantle by the Western Australian Museum.

More than one third of Western Australia’s population was born overseas. The Welcome Walls project pays tribute to those migrants who arrived by sea, landing at Fremantle or Albany, and to the many benefits they gave to their new home, enriching the lives of all Western Australians.

In Fremantle, over 400 panels commemorating the names of migrants who arrived through this area have been erected at the Western Australian Museum at Victoria Quay. These panels include information about Australia’s Child Migrants from Britain and Malta.

You can read details for each of the Child Migrants on the Western Australian Welcome Walls website.

Child Migrants, photos

Ann’s story

by Ann McVeigh (guest author) on 2 August, 2011

‘My identity was stolen from me’. Child Migrant Ann McVeigh shares her personal history and photographs of St Joseph’s Orphanage, Subiaco (now Wembley), WA.

As a child migrant my identity was stolen from me the moment I left my home land, without my mother’s consent. The name that I was born with was changed when I was put into Nazareth House in Belfast. I came to Australia on the [SS] Asturias when I was 5 years old in 1950.

On arrival in Western Australia I was sent to St Vincent’s Foundling Home in Wembley till I turned ‘a big girl’ 6 years of age. When one turns 6 one is sent to St. Joseph’s Orphanage which was next to St Vincent’s. Once placed there I still had my name changed and the date of my birth was changed also. Right away we were given numbers to answer to, put onto our clothes and lockers, my number being number one. Straight away you were expected to work always rising at 6 am every day for prayers and Mass. Duties being – sweeping yards, cleaning toilets, washing and polishing floors in the dormitories, classrooms and long corridors on hands and knees. Children were put in charge of children to be cared for in nurseries, kindergarten and foundling home. Laundry had to be done for private boarding schools and hospitals as well. Huge big washing machines, dryers and mangles which were like oversized irons for sheets and the like. The work was relentless and very tiring.

A lot of the child migrants were, I feel, abused both physically and mentally simply because we didn’t get visitors and had no-one to report the abuses to. Girls were constantly being told that ‘from the gutters of Belfast you came and to the gutters of Belfast you’d return’. Schooling was always under duress, beltings if exam results weren’t good enough or if you couldn’t understand what was being taught. To my mind it was likened to a modern day Oliver Twist, with all the cruelty that went on.

When I was in grade 2 I was informed that I was a very lucky girl because I received a letter from my mother. I was called up to the front of the class whilst the letter was read out to me. I never ever forgot that letter and always wondered when I would get a visit from my mother who said she’d try and come to get me to take me back to Ireland. Every time the door bell would go you’d stop and wait with hope, expecting your name to be called. In the end it would be a joke – yeah she’s walking across water to get me – not ever realising my letters that you wrote were never passed on. My education ended in second year high when I was 15 ½ years. I was sent 300 miles up north to look after 5 children and help around the house. One day I was with 200 kids, the next day 5 children and 2 adults. The quietness was frightening as I missed my school pals terribly. That job lasted six months and the second job for only one month, another country job doing housework for a very nasty and cold family. I was never ever greeted the time of day – just given orders on what had to be done for the day. No payment ever received. The third country job was as a shop assistant which I really enjoyed, but after 11 months I was very upset when told I would have to go back to St. Joseph’s. When her son came to pick me up I locked myself in the bathroom until I was given an assurance that I wasn’t going back. I was sent to a juvenile detention centre which scared me somewhat when I woke up the first morning as there were bars on all the windows and I thought that I had been sent to jail.

Because I rebelled I was given a welfare officer to help me out with jobs and accommodation. It was she who got my mother’s address and encouraged me to put pen to paper. Because I was eighteen I had to correspond by mail till I was allowed to go overseas and visit the family when I turned 21. When I first started to write, my mother told my siblings (2 brothers and 4 sisters) that I was their cousin from Australia. As they were still very young and still at school, not much explanation was needed. In 1967 I met my family for the first time. Being shy, I was very nervous, wondering if I was going to be accepted, but I needn’t have worried as everything turned out well.

When my mother passed away, I took my one year old son with me to the funeral. Sadly, she was buried on my birthday. When my son was eleven, I took him over again so he could meet all his cousins. It was wonderful to see them all together, it was like he belonged and was wonderful to see.

In 1988 I bumped into a school pal and she was telling me that when she received her personal papers from the welfare department, she had a breakdown. You see, because of her Afghan heritage she was dark skinned and in her papers said, although she was a very pretty little girl, she was unsuitable for adoption. We got talking and wondered how the other girls had faired when they got files. She told the doctors that …. the treatment the girls got at the home would come out – so he went to the Wish Foundation and formed an organisation called ICAS (Institutional Child Abuse Society). We went to print and on air and received a lot of support, especially after the radio interview. We got a lot of calls from the boys who were in Clontarf, Bindoon, Tardun and Castledare, telling us about the abuse that took place. We only heard from one or two other girls that they weren’t interested and just wanted to forget. After all this happened the boys formed their own organisations and the world got to hear of the terrible treatment the migrants and Aussie kids received in the institutions of the day.

I was on the committee that erected the child migrant statue in Fremantle, outside the Maritime Museum. My partner is a child migrant also and both our names are on the Welcome Wall, very close to the migrant statue. While on the committee, submissions were invited for the Child Migrant Memorial Statue, although my poem wasn’t accepted, these are my thoughts on the very sad history of child migration.

They did not know what lay in store

holidays abroad to far distant shores.

Yet in their memories as often recalled,

brothers – sisters

and friends what’s more.

Where are the families

that they once had

Back in their homelands,

How very very sad

Thousands of children crossing the line

Holidays and memories lasting a lifetime

Ann McVeigh 29 January 2011

Forgotten Australians, memories, music

‘Sleep Well Tonight’

by Darren Sugars (guest author) on 19 July, 2011

Darren Sugars sings ‘Sleep Well Tonight’, an original track which he says is ‘inspired by the personal narratives of two brave Forgotten Australians who are dear to him’.

Listen to ‘Sleep Well Tonight‘ on YouTube.

Thanks to CLAN for providing the National Museum with a recording of the song.

art, Child Migrants, events, Forgotten Australians, memories, objects, Responding to the National Apology, Stolen Generations

No more silent tears #2

by Leigh Westin (guest author) on 14 July, 2011

Leigh Westin, who grew up in Scarba House and Parramatta Girls Home, is creating a memorial entitled No More Silent Tears for Forgotten Australians. The memorial is comprised of a large panel of handkerchiefs sewn together, each decorated by those who spent time in a Children’s Home or institution.

If you experienced institutional or out-of-home ‘care’ and would like to contribute to this memorial, then on a lady’s-sized handkerchief embroider and/or write in ink, your name, the name of the institutions(s) and the year(s) that you lived there. Please feel free to decorate it however you wish, so that it will be suitable for people of all ages to view. The important thing is that you only use a lady’s handkerchief so that Leigh can easily sew them together. You may, of course, make a handkerchief in order to remember a Forgotten Australian or former Child Migrant who has passed away.

You can then post it to:
Adele Chynoweth
National Museum of Australia
GPO Box 1901
Canberra ACT 2601

Adele will then pass the handkerchiefs onto Leigh. Please make sure that your contribution reaches Adele by close of business Friday 12 August, 2011.

Below are some of the handkerchiefs that have already been made.

Child Migrants, memories

The orphan who unorphaned himself

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.

Patrick was eight when he arrived on the SS Asturias.

Download Patrick’s ‘The orphan who unorphaned himself’ (PDF 262kb) from Where’s the Fair Go? The Decline of Equity in Australia, edited by Ian Rae and published by Delegate Productions Books in 2003.

Child Migrants, Forgotten Australians, objects, photos

Clontarf strap #2

by Adele Chynoweth on 8 June, 2011

An X-ray scan of a leather strap made by Bill Brennan, who grew up in Clontarf Boys’ Town, WA, shows internal metal reinforcements inserted to give the strap more strength.

Bill made this strap when aged in his 50s as a copy of the the same straps he was required to make, at the age of 12, for the Christian Brothers. The X-ray image shows the metal reinforcements included to give the strap more strength when used to hit children.