Post by Cynthia O'Brien-Younie.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this post contains images of a person who is deceased.
I was glad when the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made the very remarkable apology to the Stolen Generation. I remember watching the apology in the office – it is a day I will always remember. I had a lot of mixed emotions as I watched Prime Minister Rudd speak, as my mother and many of my aunts and uncles are part of the Stolen Generation. That apology spoke directly to them and the impact it had on my family.
My Mother never got to hear this apology as she passed in 2005, three years before the apology.
My Mother, Betty O'Brien, was one of eight siblings that were removed as part of the Stolen Generation. She was in her teens when she was taken and was sent to a farming property in Armidale NSW where she worked as a house domestic. She was paid wages but never received them as they were taken and placed with the Aboriginal Protection Board. Her wages were never returned and became part of the widespread history of Stolen Wages. My Mother passed before any claim could be made for her wages.
My mother's four sisters were sent to Cootamundra Girls Home where they suffered abuse of all kinds. Her three brothers were sent to the notorious Kinchela Boys Home near Kempsey where they also suffered abuse. At the home they were given numbers and not called by their names.
My mother didn’t talk much about her experience but I can say that when I was growing up my mother was very protective of all her children. She made sure that we were always clean and the house was spotless so that when the Welfare Board came checking on her there would be NO excuse for them to take us away. This is a fear that never left her. She would never complain about the way she was treated and would simply say she had a good life but she couldn't say the same for her brothers and sisters.
The Apology and recognition of the trauma caused by the removal policies on the Stolen Generation and their families was an important day.
I was glad to hear the Apology.
Cynthia and her mum Betty.
Wingaru Education believes that all children should have access to quality education about Aboriginal people and culture.