Stolen Generations

Alternative content

Get Adobe Flash player

Personal Statement

I love my mum very much and I don’t blame her for what had happened. It wasn’t her fault; it was the fault of the Government of the day. Mum suffered because she was removed from her family and put in a home with her brothers and sisters. Again my mother had to suffer deeply because of the removal of her 4 children. She lived through life with so much heartache and pain. I miss my mum. Deeply.


Paul Parfitt

Duration: 14:18

My name in Paul Parfitt, I'm a Noongar man from Narrogin, born in Narrogin in 1951. Most of my family come from southwest. My father’s family, parents come from Busselton. My father’s father. And mother. And my grandmother’s country come from the wheat belt, central wheat belt area. 

They’re all Noongar groups but um, my great grandmother she was a full blood. My great, great grandfather, he was a captain on a ship that arrived in Albany then sailed up to Busselton and ran ashore there I think.

[Memories with mum before being taken]
What I dream about from those days was living with mum, you know, happy, well looked after. Wasn’t neglected. I still remember them days where I had just shoes, socks, warm clothes for winter, good clothes for summer.

I remember the times when mother, on the Swan River with my mother on a boat.  And fishing, just floating on the river, just having a yarn and a laugh and a joking. Having a picnic on a boat, so. From there, I don't really know what happened when they actually took me away from her. 

[Being taken]
Still don't remember much about it personally. And the only way I found about it was from my sister and brother told me about what happened. I was told I was taken away from my mother when I was three and a half years old, going on four, going on four years old. Welfare came and got me, and just said to my mother that, just taking them down to see dad. And spend a couple of days with my father, for a couple of weeks or something. And from there I ended up in the mission. 

I don't remember much of the separation. But I do remember that my mother really didn’t, really want me to part, you know. I never stop crying for days, I never stopped crying for years.  You know, but um, that day was really, I got no idea what happened because I don’t – I still don't remember, I don't want to remember. 

[Paul was taken in 1954]
I don't really understand the logic behind that. All I could know why is, what has been written or what has been told that they wanted to get us out the culture you know. And bring us up in a different environment.  Give us a better education, the white man’s education. And not re-educate in Aboriginal ways. So that was my understanding of why they really wanted to take me away. But I still didn’t really fully understand why. 

[What Wandering Mission said]
My mother couldn't look after me, it was too much to handle. For her to handle me. And um, I thought, you know, why did she say that or do that, when we were both happy, you know. And I thought, seemed a bit strange. But they kept saying, your mother didn’t want you, she just really didn't care. So we had to take you away for your health, for your benefit.

What they told me I started believing. You know. Because you’re that long in there they just keep saying to you, saying to you, your mother didn’t really want you, don't really care for you – care about you. So why, we had to take you away from her. 

Well I felt um, kind of hurt, I felt really hurt. Because I blamed my mother. For me being where I was and for her not wanting me. And I actually blamed her for all the pain I suffered. All the torture I've been put through. I mean physically and mentally. And abuse I've been you know, I've been enduring. I just kept blaming mum that she just gave me away because she didn’t really want me. But I didn’t see, I didn’t really know the truth. 

[Growing up in the mission]
I called it initiation into a man because you feel like you’re tough and you're unbreakable and you lived it you know, you did, you survived the tough, torture. To me that was a way for me to grow up quick and grow up maybe too fast. You got to be a man before you got to be a boy.

[Contact with mum while in the mission]
Oh she came to visit me a few times in the mission. I think what I was told that she wasn’t allowed to come too often.  So she made, made an effort to come and see me. And I thought, well at least I didn’t lose my image of my mother, you know, I knew what my mother looked like, I knew who she was. I knew what, I knew what kind of person she was. But also I seen the changes in her too. Wasn’t for the best for her because I could see the hurt in her face and in her actions. And change in her life. And it’s kind of sad for a young boy to realise that and see that, with their mother, from the person that she was. 

She used to break out and cry and tell me some stories and… I’d just think, oh yeah, you know, you’re saying this not to, you know get the blame off yourself. And there's the blame again, I was blaming her, that's what I was saying, not saying to her but thinking in my own mind, this is your story. And cause the white man’s always right. And I’m thinking well why are you trying to cover, make yourself, so you know, so good, after all these years?  And then I realised, I don't know, it’s – when I was saying it I was kind of, also started to see the change and hurt in her face, in herself. The hurt. That I was hurting her now. And I thinking about time that you copped some of the blame. And like I feel bad about it now, I feel really bad about it. And um, what can I do, cause I had to blame somebody.  And then …But um, blamed the wrong people, the wrong finger. 

Later on in life when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, late 30s, that’s when I started realising I got to stop blaming, I got to find the truth, find out the truth. I started realising that you know, you got to listen to your mother and stop blaming her for everything. There might be another reason for it. It started to build slowly that um, story to come together. About, me getting to trust her and to listen to her stories. And to really determine the truth, you know. Even though I seen it that she really loved me and cared for me and wanted me back, but she had no way of getting it. No way of getting her child back. You know and a baby child at that, so, it kind of – being young and brought up in an environment – and an institution like that, it’s – you don't realise, only one thing on your mind, that’s kind of a hate thing.

[Resolutions today]
Well firstly I, I don't blame no one for anything, unless I know the two  stories. And they’ve got to be two stories to everything.  And I got to listen to two sides of the story. Otherwise I'm wrong again. And see in me, the hate I had was like a disease. And I can't – to me, and also to me, hate, hate is … is something I can't carry around no more. I think I did do all the hating I can when I was in there. It’s a horrible feeling to hate somebody especially the wrong people, you know. 

Well I learnt to accept I can't change what happened.  I just got to change my way of thinking and not blame my mother no more. And I actually had the guts to say that I forgive her, love, you know. But yeah I was wondering why it took me so long. I didn’t realise that she was suffering more than I did. And like I feel ashamed for that but things… being in a mission and institutionalised and people telling you a lot of lies and Christian people like that.  And I mean people who, who you looked up to, well I didn’t look up to them I suppose, you had to respect.  And thought they were, you know, people of the faith and Christians and priests at that and other ordained peoples, nuns and brothers, or what they call them these days.  You know Christians don't tell lies and of course you tell lies, it’s a sin. You do, you're told that from when …it’s all...then that kind of thing.  You get to believe these stories.  And you haven’t got the mother to tell her story at the same time, you know one side all the time, and you’ve been one side. 

I cried and cried that long, you know cried for years and years and years. But you can't cry no more. Those things, that memory that you thought you dealt with, they still hurt you, you still cry for them. And a lot of it, I know a lot of people who have been taken away, you know think they're strong, but they still got that little weak, emotions in them, so…  I don't think it will ever go away. Never. 

[Time with mum]
It’s just sad that I didn’t have too much quality time with my mother.  Really. I could have had but I chose to stay away from truth. She always believed in me, you know.  It was a pity I didn’t pick it up earlier before she passed away. Just something that you don't expect, you know. 





Contact us | About Us | Terms & Conditions

© Stolen Generations' Testimonies Foundation
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers should exercise caution when viewing this website as it contains images of deceased persons.The people speaking in this website describe being removed from family and community. They regard themselves as belonging to the Stolen Generations.