Servant or Slave (2016) Movie Script

As I went down in the river to pray
Studyin' about that good
ol' way and who shall wear
The starry crown good
lord show me the way
I was originally born in Grafton,
taken from Grafton to
Cootamundra Girls' Home
when I was four.
I don't know why.
It's not clear to me
where I'm originally from.
I know I'm from up there somewhere
Up the Bundjalung tribe,
that's what I was told.
I'm still tryin' to find out.
Not really important to me it's not.
'Cause I was too much
in the institutions.
Oh sister let's go down
I was three and a half years old.
Being so young as I was,
I thought this was natural to be abused
you know and thrown in the box room
and whipped and things like that.
The starry crown good
lord show me the way
Be a domestic service
to be workin' in a white person's house
to do their cleaning and their washing
and lookin' after their kids
and that's what we were doing.
It was just literally a slave,
to be there to do their bit
of what they wanted you to do.
As I went down in the river to pray
We were like dogs,
just given the rubbish you know?
Had the leftovers.
Hurts, to think what the
wealthy have done to us.
Pain that we went through.
I still have nightmares.
Oh sisters lets go down
Lets go down, come on down
Oh sisters lets go down
Down in the river to pray
In 1901,
Australia became a federation.
Under the new constitution,
aboriginal people would not
be counted in the census.
And the commonwealth would
have the power to make laws
relating to any race
of people in Australia,
except aboriginal people.
The federated states
retained exclusive power
over aboriginal affairs until 1967
when the constitution was
amended in a historic referendum.
When Australian's voted overwhelmingly
to change these discriminatory clauses.
Aboriginal people had been
subject to oppressive legislation
that varied on a state by state basis
from the late 19th century.
The notorious aborigines protection board
had the power to forcibly move people
from their traditional lands,
onto reserves and missions
and to remove children from their families
and power over their financial affairs.
The policy of protection,
of smoothing the dying
pillow of a doomed race,
rapidly changed to one of control.
With the end game of assimilation.
Certainly when the pieces of legislation
were first drafted in the late 1880s
through to the early 1900s,
what you do see is a reflection
of this generally held assumption
by the dominant culture in Australia
that aboriginal people were a dying race.
By the time you get to the 40s, 50s, 60s
and it's very clear
that the aboriginal
population isn't dying out.
The impetus behind the
concept of protection
becomes very different.
You do find a large
sort of broad similarity
in terms of the assumptions about
inferiority of aboriginal people,
the problems that were assumed to exist
or would be created if aboriginal children
were left with their families.
The importance of seeing assimilation
of aboriginal people as a key
way of progressing forward
in terms of federal government policy.
All of those sorts of
big ideological pictures
were pretty much existent
across the board.
I was born in Brewarrina.
I didn't know my father
but I had a step father who I really loved
who was the only dad that I knew.
We was playing outside in the dirt
with our roly poly
and then while mom
and all the other ladies
were playing cards inside,
black car come there, just parked there.
Jenny she had me by the hand
and hanged onto me.
And the welfare fella just
picked us up and took us.
Took us and mom didn't know.
- There was certainly an assumption
that the best time to remove children
was the youngest you
could possibly get them
so there were lots of instances where
aboriginal women would go into hospital,
would be told their children had died
and then later find out that
they'd been adopted out.
There was a view that if
children were institutionalised
or sent out to work,
somehow these would be better ways
of equipping them for life in white world
then allowing them to
stay with their families.
- Well I was born at Peak Hill,
in Peak Hill hospital.
In 1932.
That's a long time ago.
Yeah no,
you'd see me out on the
mission there at Peak Hill
with mom and dad.
Well that's where we
was taken' from there.
I remember we was playin' out on the lawn
out the front of the courthouse
and that's where mom and dad walked away
and left us there.
I don't think they knew where I was going,
I was only little,
I didn't know whether they knew or not
but we didn't know.
I was only little, tiny kid.
Train ride and ended up at Cootamundra.
In 1911,
the Cootamundra Domestic
Training Home for aboriginal girls
was opened by the
Aborigine's Protection Board,
in Country, New South Wales.
Until it closed in 1968,
hundreds of aboriginal girls
were placed in the home,
after being forcibly
removed from their parents.
The idea was to segregate
part aboriginal children
from their families,
in order to assimilate them
into the mainstream community
as domestic servants.
- Matron called out and said,
"now girls, this is your new home.
"You behave yourself
and do as you're told,
"things will be alright."
And that's what she said.
They never told us why
we were taken, never.
- I went to Bomaderry Children's Home ,
I was aged two with the other two sisters.
And when I went to Cootamundra,
about nine with me other sister Patty,
they said we were gonna
meet me eldest sisters
and I didn't even know we had 'em.
Only family I knew was the Bomaderry kids
and the ones in Cootamundra,
they seemed strange.
I wasn't brought up with them.
If you're not brought up with someone,
how could you connect?
The story
of private John Wenberg
of the second AIF and his wife Lily
is one shared by many families.
All nine of their children
including sisters
Adelaide, Valerie and Rita
were taken from them.
Some were taken before
their younger siblings
had even been born.
Two of their children, Dorothy
and John died of neglect
while wards of the state.
Despite their repeated pleas
for the return of their children,
John and Lily were formally advised
that the removal of their children
was justified due to parental neglect.
- I got in the home when
I was three and a half.
Grew up, grew up not knowing
they were my sisters.
And grew up not wanting to know.
You know, we're not close now.
We're strangers.
Same with our brothers,
they're strangers.
I was more or less on me own
amongst about 45 girls or more.
All in the same position
I think that I was in.
Taken and just put there,
for the reasons unknown.
I was a real devil then,
I just wouldn't settle down to do nothin'.
'Cause I had an idea in my head
that I shouldn't have been there.
You know when you wake up in the morning
and you think you're gonna wake up
and see your mom and dad and you don't,
you wake up and you're
in a dormitory with about
14 or 15 other kids, all age groups,
it's not very comforting.
- When you became a women you know,
you got your periods.
I didn't know what was going on.
I was down the toilet, I saw blood,
"oh shit what's happened here"?
And went up to the matron and,
"Oh Adelaide," she said.
"You're turning into a women."
And all she did was
handin' me these things,
you have to wash yourself
and that you know?
So shit what's goin' on here you know?
That's all we were told, nothing.
There was no love up there,
none whatsoever, none.
In 1948, an
Anglican missionary couple
established the Marella Mission Farm
known as the Hidden Mission,
to accommodate aboriginal
children on their private property
in a north western suburb of Sydney.
The first child arrived in 1953
and the subsequent hundreds of children
who passed through their gates
became an unpaid labour force
that supported the farm,
which already benefited
from government funding
and public donations.
Soon after being taken from
her family at the age of two,
Rita Wright was transferred
form the Cootamundra girls home
to Marella where she remained
until she was released
aged 19.
- I hate that place, I hate the name.
I used to steal oranges off the tree
and hide 'em under the floorboards.
And then they'd make us
start readin' the bible,
"thou shalt not steal," you know?
Like you have to steal to survive,
just to have a feed you know?
We were hungry.
We were treated like slaves.
Done all the work.
We kept a dirty farm goin'.
We kept it goin' and all the hidin's and,
hidin's over just tiny little things.
They put us there 'cause
they say that my mom was
a dirty drunken woman.
We're supposed to have malnutrition.
My auntie, she said "your mom
was one of the cleanest women
"up there in Brewarrina."
- The first time I saw my father,
he came up to the home.
And in order to come up to the home,
you had to have a letter from
the Aborigine Welfare Board,
to see your kids.
He never had a letter,
he just roamed in.
I always remember he had this army coat.
And he's holdin' out his
arms, he's callin' out,
"Valerie, Valerie."
And he said, "I'm your daddy."
- The matron rang the police
and they got him off the property
because he was drunk and weren't allowed
to come up there like that.
When we were all taken,
he just took to drink.
You know, all his kids
were gone so what the hell?
He had nothing to live for?
- And poor dad wrote a
letter to the welfare,
"could I have my children back?"
He said, "I'll get a home for 'em."
He got a home for us.
But they didn't, they
wouldn't give 'em to him.
- You know a girl came from Cootamundra.
You know she used to tell me,
she said Val, I asked her, I said,
"have you got a mom?"
And she said, "yes."
And I said, "why are you
in here if you got a mom?"
I said, "I thought all the
girls didn't have mom and dad?"
And she said, "Val if you go
out to the peppercorn tree,
"put a cross on the
peppercorn tree every night
"and your mom will come."
She never came.
- You know I think for many of us
have often heard our elders say,
they said that this protection
was kind of an ironic word
just like welfare was.
And that the motivations behind the policy
were much more about
protecting white people
from aboriginal people.
And although you know, in their usual way,
our eldest sort of say
that it's a kind of joke,
I think that there's a
lot of pain behind that.
- Tried to bring them
up as normal children
and to teach them whatever we could
as far as cleanliness and
that was concerned you know?"
And to live as white children,
that was all we were trying to do.
It was the only thing
we could do with them?
- I loved school, I loved
it with a dear passion.
I did very well at school.
We were all sitting on the outside,
the officers where they had
their meals, on the steps
and the matron said,
"oh Adelaide's a very clever little girl."
And one of the officers said,
"what's the point of the her being clever?
"She's only going to be a domestic."
And that stuck with me
and I'll never try it again, never.
- Well what they trained you for
was to learn to scrub and
wash and clean houses.
You know, for the white people.
Iron their clothes, milk a cow.
You know, had to get
up early in the mornin'
and milk a cow.
- They teach ya to cook,
they teach ya to wash,
they teach ya to iron, clean.
I used to muck up, being who I was,
they sort of targeted me
because I wasn't flexible
like the other kids.
Come and do all your duties,
do that, do whatever.
And I used to say, no I'm not doin' it.
I would just walk away
but I used to end up then
bein' locked in a store room,
like a box room they called it.
No lights, no nothing turned on.
You'd be sittin' in this little box room
for hours more or less.
- They'd get ya and they'd push you in.
You may try not go in,
but they push you in.
You'd sleep in the box with no bed.
No mattress.
They don't bring in food or water for ya.
And you gotta stay there
overnight, it's real dark.
You know and you get scared
and I thought to myself I can't cry,
because you're not allowed to cry.
- Across the country,
children taken into state care
whether they were put in institutions
or sent out into employment situations,
suffered an enormous amount of abuse.
Psychological, emotional,
physical and sexual abuse.
- I said to this officer Hailey,
she said something and
I said, "oh shut up."
"That's the last time you'll
ever say that to me" she said.
I'll get you.
Never thought anything of it.
About a week later, she was on bath duty.
There's two baths and they call you in.
Betty Lee was in that bath
and I was in the other bath.
I was washin' myself quite
happy, very happy, singin' away
and Betty yells out, "watch it Adelaide,
"watch it, she's coming."
I felt this burnin' right across me back.
I didn't cry, I didn't cry.
I didn't give her the satisfaction.
But that cat o nine tails,
that bloke down near the stock yards
gave one to the officers.
That whip, to keep us in hand.
And that's what they
used to use on the cattle
to get 'em into the different yards.
- They used to call me a
runner, I'm always on the run.
I ran away from the home
and the policeman picked me up,
and I was about 12.
And I was put in a cell
and that's where he raped me.
I kept that to myself.
I kept the rape to myself
'cause I always thought
well you don't say those things
or you get into trouble.
And they won't believe ya anyway.
- They were so-called
Christian missionaries.
We was made to call him mom and dad.
Or we used to call 'em
little names on the side.
I know you should not hate anybody,
but he is one man that
I really really hate.
- Things he done was unbelievable
and they were supposed to look after us.
Used to hit us.
Do other things.
Things you wouldn't believe.
He abused me bad.
Done things,
that I was too frightened to tell people.
'Cause I always thought
no one would believe me
and I'm still goin' in surgeries.
From this day on I'm still
havin' surgery over this.
That messed me, I'd go there
and I'm gettin' tubes put in me.
I still let it happen to me you know?
Made me sit on his lap and
he used to bounce up and down.
It was dirty, very bad.
And he calls himself a Christian.
The tree was shaped like a horse,
like gettin' on a horse.
I jumped on it one day,
I made out that I was
takin' off from Marella.
Sittin' on a nose, "yahoo" and all this,
thinkin' I was free.
But the day had to end ya know?
It was make believe days, stories.
It's very very hard when you're in a home,
being treated,
treated like slaves.
Little children, we
were kids, just slaves.
To me I don't like workers sayin' dogs,
but we were like dogs.
In 1897,
the aboriginal protection
and restriction of the sale of opium act
was passed in Queensland.
Under the guise of
protecting aboriginal people
from physical and financial exploitation
by their employers,
this legislation allowed
the state government
to assume complete control
over aboriginal people's lives.
Including the power to control
their welfare entitlements
and wages.
A strategy repeated across the nation.
- What happened for an aboriginal person
sent out to work under
the government control
was that firstly you had no idea
how much the government was
selling your labour for.
They didn't tell you what
wage you were supposed to get.
Secondly, while you're working,
up to 80% of your wage,
in theory was paid as, what
they call pocket money,
which was money that the employer paid you
during the 12 month work period.
But this pocket money quota,
the government always knew
from the very very beginning
was probably never properly paid.
It was so easy for employers to say,
yes you got a shirt worth X amount,
he got food worth X amount, he got tobacco
and that takes up the whole 80%,
so there's only 20% of
the wage to be paid.
- On many stations in to
Kimberley right through
until the late 1960s, all
people were getting still
was basic rations of
meat, flour, tea, sugar
and a ration of tobacco.
For many aboriginal workers
and their families on stations,
that's all they got.
Just this really meagre amount
of food and tobacco rations
in exchange for working full time.
- One of the ways the
government funded itself
from aboriginal work was
through the Aboriginal Welfare Fund.
This had been set up in 1943
and was always notorious
for it's mismanagement.
And the fund comprised a levy on the wages
of all aboriginal workers
which had been in place
since 1919,
and was used supposedly
for the benefit of aboriginals generally.
- Aboriginal workers on stations
just couldn't up and leave
when they wanted to.
They were bound by employment contracts
and employment permits.
In economic terms,
they were making so much money
for the pastoral station owners
because they were being
paid either nothing at all
or a fraction of the award wages.
One of the complaints that
station owners started making
in the 1940s and 1950s
when agitation for wages
was coming from aboriginal
workers themselves,
one of those complaints was,
if we have to pay these people wages,
we can't run the station.
These pastoral stations
simply weren't viable economic
propositions without the
huge economic contribution
that aboriginal people
made to the industry.
So it was really a one-way
transfer of economic resources,
from the aboriginal
community to the nation.
- Well generally speaking
I find them quite good.
I think I prefer the native neighbour.
- I get along quite well with my girls.
Well if I had one white housemaid,
well if she resigned I'd
get left with nothing,
but I've always got another
girl to take one's place.
- Aboriginal girls were
taken from their families
at such a rate.
This was partly fueled
by the insatiable desire
for cheap domestic servants.
These young aboriginal workers
and some of them were really little more
than children themselves,
they were paid so little.
Like in their hand they
only got a few shillings
and the rest was managed by
the aborigines department.
What it meant was that,
even really modest
households could expect to
be able to employ an
aboriginal domestic servant.
This is an area of stolen wages
where I don't think you
can actually separate
the stolen generation's story
from the stolen wages story,
they're completely entwined.
- When you reach 14 and a
half or something like that,
you get your report sent up to the home
and the matron sends it up to the welfare,
Aborigine Welfare Board.
If they think you can't go any further,
they stop you from going to school
and then you're put out
to domestic service.
When you go on the farm,
you're supposed to do the
washing, clean the house,
if there's kids there,
gotta look after them.
'Cause you never had a day
off, you just kept on going.
- I was 16 or 15,
matron put me out on a property
and I didn't know how to milk a cow.
I used to put water in the bucket.
And I put the bucket on
top of the kitchen table
and next minute I could hear this man say,
"Valerie, Valerie, get in here!"
I went in there and he said,
"you put water in this milk."
And I was shakin' like a leaf,
I didn't know what to do.
So he said, "next time just watch it."
And then one day I was
vacuuming in the lounge
and he came back
and he said, "Valerie"
he said, "get in here!"
He said, "you haven't
done the kid's room."
And I, I'd done the kid's room.
I'd went in and vacuumed and
cleaned the kid's room up.
And he just threw me on
the bed and he raped me.
And that night when he came home,
I had a cup and a plate in my hand
and as soon as I'd seen him,
I broke the cup and plate
and then he gets this big fence boy
and he belted me with the fence boy.
And I went runnin' out
and I slept in the wooden
box outside all night.
It was cold.
Then I woke up the next mornin'
and I looked up and
seen if they were gone.
And they were gone,
so I went, I dunno I just
went back into the house
not realizin' what he's done,
I just got his shoes
and I started to clean his bloomin' shoes.
'Cause I was frightened
I was goin' to get myself
in trouble with matron if
I didn't behave myself.
Then the knock came on the
door and it was the police.
And he said, "what's wrong Valerie?"
And I said, "this man's been beltin' me
"with this fence boy and
he's done somethin' to me."
And the police said,
"you go and get your case
"and pack your case, you're
goin' back to the home."
When I was goin' back to the
home all matron would say,
"now Valerie," she said,
"don't mention or tell any of the girls
"what has happened to you
"and tomorrow I shall
buy you a new dress."
And tomorrow came, she
bought me a new dress
but I didn't know where I
was goin' in the new dress.
And a week later after that,
she sticks me out onto another property.
I was so frightened of
the man, I ran away.
control over their wages
effectively condemned many thousands
of aboriginal girls and boys
to a treadmill of abuse
from which their was
little hope of escape.
Internal investigations
from the early 1920s
reveal aboriginal wages
were misappropriated by governments
to cover their own liabilities,
including the cost of removing people
to missions and reserves
and the forcible removal of children.
In essence, aboriginal
people unwittingly funded
their own disenfranchisement.
Even thought the racial discrimination act
established a legal award wage in 1975,
many aboriginal workers
continue to be underpaid
and had no control over
their financial affairs.
- There is almost no proper money trail
of what happened to aboriginal savings,
individual savings, because
people were never given
any record of what was
being done to their money
until 1968 when they were given bank books
which showed just the amounts
still sitting in their account,
and for many people that was a tiny amount
after perhaps three decades of work.
So the profitability of the state,
it was built on the backs of black workers
and it was built to a large extent
with the money, which
black workers earned,
but governments took.
- Stroke of luck came.
I was sent to Sydney.
I was goin' on 16.
I went to work for this
beautiful woman at Double Bay,
her and her mother.
She was paralysed from the waist down.
She gave me all the respect I needed
and she was the only one that did.
She always made sure if I was upset,
she'd say to me, "what's
your problem Adelaide?"
And sometimes I couldn't tell her
and then other times I could tell her.
And she said, "oh we'll get through this."
- I'd run away from Marella.
I went in a red fern and lived
in there for three months,
on the streets.
Stealin' milk and snow
drop and takin' clothes
off the lines and puttin'
my clothes back on the line
to survive.
I seen these group of aboriginal people
come towards me.
I crossed the road, I was frightened.
'Cause you know, you grew
up with the kids in the home
but seein' the free people,
you know people that was free?
Havin' them do what they wanna do.
- I used the bloody men,
they used me and I used them.
It wasn't for love.
They might've loved me,
but I never loved them.
What the hell's love gotta do with it?
I had to go with these white fellas,
'cause I believed that white fellas
are a better race that me own people.
I learnt different later, ha!
I used these white fellas up.
Reason why I used to go in the pub
to meet me own people, I'm
trying to find who I belong to,
where I come from, things like that.
- It's taken a long time for me to realise
that I wasn't really white.
That's how good they are,
it's like a brainwash.
You know, when I seen a dark person
I used to cross the road,
'cause I didn't wanna associate.
You're brought up that way.
You accept things, you know?
- They said not to marry
an aborigine person,
because they were dirty and the white race
was better than the aborigine race.
- I'm sure it gives people some comfort
to think that these were things
that all happened in the past.
But the fact of the matter
is that it's just not true.
You've first of all got people
who live in our community who lived this.
To them it wasn't just yesterday,
they live with this every day.
The sorts of traumas that
they've suffered as children.
The impact of separation
from their families.
These traumas do get handed down.
Their removal as children made
it very difficult for them
to be in a family.
When I got married,
I was lookin' for somebody to
look after me for a change.
It didn't work out that way.
Used to come home drunk, you know?
And all he wanted was you know what.
And I thought to myself,
I suppose it was meant to happen again.
I got so used to bein' abused
and I didn't trust anybody.
I think that trust is a big thing.
People say you've gotta move forward.
How does one move forward
when you still go that in your mind,
what happened to you as a child?
- As much as I love my husband,
I did still have no trust in him you know?
It was very hard.
My husband never smoked, he never drunk
and he never got into me.
He taught me how to cook,
but then he had to die from the dialysis.
From this day on I still
haven't got a boyfriend
'cause I'm too frightened,
for what I went through.
- When I did go out
and have my own family,
I used to check the kids every night.
I put my hand on their chest
to see if they were still breathin'
or see if they were still in their bed
because they had no idea,
they're not takin' my kids.
And in the end of it, I just
reared my kids on my own,
I worked and reared my kids myself.
- I don't think I was
meant to be a mother.
I just haven't had it in me.
I tried.
We weren't brought up with a mother,
so how do you expect to be
a mother to your children
when you don't even know
how to be a mother to them
when you've never had one,
to help ya, to guide you.
- I used to say to the kids,
if you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend,
I wanna know who they are
and I wanna know who their parents are,
because they could have
been related, you know?
You get around the same
area where you come from,
everybody's more or less
related to this one or that one
and I'm thinkin' well no,
I wanna know who they are
and who their parents are
and where they come from.
- I was just goin' on 26 when
I found out I was pregnant.
And I was cranky, cranky as hell.
So I went to see an abortionist,
I didn't want a kid, never wanted a kid,
never wished to have any kids.
If this is the way they
treat aborigine kids,
never will I bring a child into this world
to be abused like this,
that's how I thought.
Well I had Robert,
and I said to the lady,
I'll leave if you like
and she said, "no you're not,
we'll bring him up together."
And she brought him up.
He wasn't mine.
She took control of him.
I was just the one who gave the birth.
And I've never said to
him I love you, never.
'Cause I can't.
Because of what happened up at that home.
Taught me not to trust
people, not to love anyone,
not even to love me own child.
- I was goin' through
depression pretty bad.
I was havin' flashbacks
so I had to go and see a psychiatrist.
I told him what happened
and he said, "why don't you sketch
"what happened to you as a child?"
And I've been doin' that ever since.
When you're paintin' you're
in a world of your own.
Your mind's occupied by
the paint your doin'.
'Cause if I don't paint, I
start to have the flashbacks.
I start to get panic attacks.
- I do what they taught me to do.
I just clean and look after myself.
Play tennis and play bowls.
Very sporty, I get out
and play a lot of sports.
I used to always play sports, years ago.
Even had a go at football.
- And when I went to Sydney,
I couldn't understand why I
was gettin' pains all the time.
I was playin' tennis and I
used to double up with pains.
I used to play with these
white people out at Rose Bay.
Went home to the lady I worked for,
I said, "I dunno I've got
these two pains under here."
She said, "we'll send you to the doctor."
Now I went into hospital,
not knowing what was going to happen.
Not knowing.
Doctor came around, looked at my chart,
he said, "look girly I'm gonna
ask you one simply question
"and one simple question only.
"You can give me that answer or not?
"That kidney was caused through trauma.
"Did you fall?
"Or fall off a horse,
fall down out of a tree?"
That's what that bloody
thing did, that whip.
I didn't say nothin'.
I said, nah I don't wanna talk about it.
- Now it's gone, why'd
he put me through that?
I get angry and I swear, to myself.
'Cause you gotta get
everything out you know?
When you got that anger, you do anything.
I threw plates, I wanted to
jump on the railway tracks
down Rooty Hill.
And even when my husband died I said Doug
what've you left me for 'cause
I need ya but where are you?
So I went back just to sit there.
To see a little creek runnin' through.
Now it's a recreation centre built there.
And I wanna try and get a plaque put up
for the Marella children that was there.
In 2006, a senate legal
and constitutional affairs committee
established an inquiry into
stolen wages nationally.
Almost 170 years after a British committee
first recommended that
protectors of aborigines
be appointed in Australia.
The senate committee
found extensive evidence
of misappropriated trust
funds, welfare entitlements
and stolen wages.
Estimated to be at least
500 million dollars
in Queensland alone.
It recommended that
indigenous people be supported
to tell their stories.
Given unhindered access
to government archives
and that a national scheme be established
to undertake preliminary legal research
into stolen wages.
Almost 10 years later,
claimants are still waiting.
- Reparations have been a
really tricky legal issue.
For an average person
who hears what happens,
to many of the people who were taken
and then suffered horrendous abuse,
have long psychological damage,
it becomes a real question as to why
there isn't a legal remedy for that?
- In May 2002, Queensland
Labour Premier Peter Beattie
made an offer of
reparations in parliament.
He said, "we have no idea how
much money has gone missing
"from people's accounts over the decades."
He quoted it was a least
half a billion dollars
over an 80 year period.
From all of the whole range
of funds that went missing
and so he offered 55.6
million dollars was his offer.
What it worked out to was $2000 per person
for a younger claimant
and $4000 per person
for somebody 55 years and older.
To get that money, you had to
sign away your legal rights.
There was such a poor
take up of the offer,
people were so disgusted
that the subsequent labour government
increased the amount to $7000 which again
is still an absolute pittance.
Certainly the Queensland
government, in it's conditions
said that only people who
were alive on the date
in May 2002 when they made the offer,
only they could apply for the money,
so anybody who's parents, grandparents,
great grandparents had lost
money under the system,
they were out of luck.
- I think it's important
that what they do do
is recognise that there
was a structural harm
that was being committed
against a broad group of people.
Their experience was continually denied.
There's something very important about
a formal structure that says,
well yes it did take place
and yes there were people who
worked in these circumstances
and were effectively
treated as slave labour
and we need to do something about it.
When you look at the poverty
within indigenous communities,
the fact that there's so little
that people had to hand
down, in a material sense,
it is a way in which people
who have been exploited for their labour
are unable to even bequeath
that to their children
and their grandchildren.
- There really needs
to be a political will
at both the federal level and
the state and territory level
to drive this issue,
until aboriginal workers
and their families
receive the justice that they deserve.
- The money that should've
gone to aboriginal workers
was used to continue to remove children.
And when you think that this was a policy
that went form the 1880s informally,
through to a very strong state structure
by the early 1900s, right into the 1960s,
you're talking about generations.
You can even conceive where people
would've been funding these
bodies that would then
come and take their own children.
- An awful lot of the
despair on the communities,
is rooted in the
institutionalised dis-empowerment
over generations.
And I believe that the
government is responsible
for the conditions today.
Legally responsible.
I think they had a duty of care.
They gave themselves that duty of care
in their laws and regulations.
- There is probably a short answer
to what you call someone
who is in that circumstance,
especially a child who is getting no wages
or is severely underpaid.
The United Nations human rights standards
would say that is slavery.
People will say, "well you
know that's what happened
"in the southern states of America
"and we didn't have that here."
But for the child who
was working for nothing
in someone else's kitchen
with no other choice,
cannot escape,
is beaten when they don't do their work,
is abused in other ways, it's slavery.
It hurts,
to think what the welfare done to them
and what they done to us.
The pain that we went through.
To look back on
my life, it wasn't a life.
It just wasn't a life.
I got my freedom.
I got a lot of love
and I got my children, my grandchildren.
And now they give me support.
They give me the strength,
'cause I can stand up and talk to them,
tell them what's right
from wrong you know?
- I will never forgive them
for what they done to me you know?
I mean I wasn't the only one
who got raped and abused.
There was thousands of
aborigine kids, boys too,
they got raped, I wasn't the only one.
- I was determined not to be broke,
they wasn't gonna break me,
I wanted to be me own self.
I was seein' what happened with other kids
and the way it affected them.
A lot of them come out
and all they wanted to do
was they get on the drugs
and they get on the alcohol
and all this sorta thing.
I never went that way,
I was determined not to.
I was gonna make somethin' of myself.
But I ended up married with a mob of kids.
Lovin' it though.
- Why do you think a
lot of these young boys
and the men and the fathers
went to drink and died?
Because they lost their
kids like my father.
He had nothing to live for, nothing.
So he just threw in the towel,
they weren't going to give his kids back,
he asked for them back, so what?
That was it.
- I had to go to TAFE to
learn about my people.
I was very proud you know?
I was hurt to learn about them, very hurt,
'cause I was sayin' to myself,
why didn't I learn these
things while I was at school?
And I'm proud to be an aborigine.
And I always will be.
I'm proud to be a proud black woman.
Proud to be one.
As I went down to the river to pray
Studying about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord show me the way
Oh sisters let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
Oh sisters let's go down
Down to the river to pray
As I lay down in the river to pray
Studyin' about that good ol' way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord show me the way
Oh sisters let's go down
Let's go down, come on down
Oh sisters, let's go down
Down in the river to pray