I was taken from my family by the Aboriginal Welfare board, as a four year old, along with my older and younger sisters and my brother Gordon. They took us girl’s to the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girl’s Training home and sent Gordon to the notorious Kinchella boys home. I would never see my father again as he had died before I was “released” (even though him and mum made many attempts to visit us in the homes). I would not see my brother for 20 years (he died shortly after we found each other) but I was fortunate enough to have some months with my mother before she passed away. The “Girl’s” from the home are still my “Family” but I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to reconnect with my extended family as well.
Below is a paper I presented at NSW Aboriginal Mental Health Conference at Penrith in September 1999 and also as a key note speaker at the The Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry’s conference in Adelaide in 2000. I believe this paper reflects(a mirror) what many of us former residents of the “Homes” have been through and continue to struggle with.
A Mirror on Our History
After many years of discussions involving those living “Girls” who had been resident at the Cootamundra Home since 1911/12 - the former residents finally unveiled 2 memorials on the 20thOctober 2006. These memorials pay tribute to all who had lived their formative years in this government run institution situated on the outskirts of Cootamundra town-ship on the southwest slopes of New South Wales. The unveiling of the memorials was attended by many of the former residents and their descendants and is testimony to their survival.