Stolen Generations

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Personal Statement

I want to tell the truth about what happened to the Aborigine people in my era. I don’t blame the Australian people of today for what happened to me in the past. I just pray and hope that history won’t repeat itself.


Val Linnow

Duration: 17:25

My name is Valerie Linnow. My mother, she was a full blood. My father, he was, what do you call, he's got dark complexion but he wasn’t Aborigine. 

My dad was in the army and he was serving his country, and while serving his country they come and taken his kids. And often my father went on AWOL trying to find his kids. I was two when I was taken from my parents. 

[Being taken]
My brother said we’re all – he was looking after us and the whole nine of us. And he said that mum went down to the shop and the next minute that the welfare just came and grabbed the whole lot of us and just taken us and separated us. Three sisters went to Cootamundra and three sisters went to Bomaderry, three brothers to Kinchela Boys Home, up in Kempsey.

[Memories of Bomaderry Children’s Home]
I often try and go into the nursery to see the two young sisters. And I got, I got caught from one of the sisters and I got thrown into this big dark room with all the blankets. I was calling out to me mum. I was crying in the dark room. And she came in, one of the sisters came in and said, you haven’t got a mother, you haven’t got a dad, daddy. Cut that talk out. So I learnt to cut the, didn’t mention their names when I was in Bomaderry children’s home.

My young sister died down there. Her name was Dorothy. She died with her head caught through the rail of the cot. But they stated she died with something else, on the, on her death certificate, but we found out later she died with a head caught through the railing of the cot. So I call that neglect.

I remember one incident when I was down in Bomaderry, I was at school with my younger sister, and my father came, came and calling out to me, oh Valerie. He was in this big army coat, and I just looked around and he just said, I'm your dad. He said, I'm your daddy. Before I can – he had his arms reaching out for me, before I can run to him, this teacher came and grabbed me and me young sister and took us inside, inside the school, in one of the classrooms. I got up on top of the desk and when I was looking out the window I saw this man who said he was my dad, daddy. Got, was, dragged away in a police car and they dragged him away.

[Val was transferred to Cootamundra Girls Home]
I was nine, that’s when I got transferred, Pat and I got a transfer up to Cootamundra. I had this, I had a doll.  I always remember I had a doll, and Pat had a doll.  And the next minute the dolls were taken off us. We weren’t allowed to have dolls.  So I cried all night for that doll, I never got the doll back. I was wondering where the doll was.  I don't know, I don’t even know if my mother gave me the doll or who gave me the doll in Bomaderry Children’s Home. But someone gave me that doll cause I treasured that doll. So I ended up having, making – making wooden pegs out of my dolls legs. You know, in the homes.

[Val met her sister Rita at Cootamundra]
No I didn’t know we had sisters in Bomaderry. Until the matron called us up and told our sisters were coming.  That’s from three years old to ten years old.  Knowing that you got two other sisters, you know, a bit puzzling. Rita used to tell me stories down at the, in the – down the peppercorn tree about different types of things like animals and things like this. And told me about the, the barracuda. Little stories about things like that. So I used to rush, each time after dinner, rush down to the peppercorn tree and one day I rushed down the peppercorn tree she wasn’t there, I didn’t know where she went to, she went to Sydney. They don't let, they don't let you know. Didn’t tell me. I was crying. I knew I was crying, and so they come and hit me across the head because I was crying. Only crying for Rita. 

And another confusion was, when we were in Cootamundra, and when I was in Bomaderry, I didn’t know I had brothers. Until they left Kinchela Boys Home. 

[Memories of school days]
When I was down going to school I could feel the, the – there was something wrong, something was missing because I used to hear the white kids calling out, oh P& C meeting, or something – oh Mum’s going to be at the P & C meeting, or Mum this, Mum that. And I could feel the hurt inside me, you know. I could feel the hurt.

Just couldn't understand where was my mum, why wasn’t she – why wasn’t she here. Cause no one ever spoken about my mum, you know.  I started to think, you know, things like this. And when I went back to the home, Cootamundra Home, at night time one of the girls said, we were talking about, I asked her about, I said, you’ve got a mum. And she said, yeah we got a mum. And then she said, well if you go out to the peppercorn tree and put a cross under the peppercorn tree, she said, your mum will come.  So we keep doing it every night and she never came. My mum never came. The only mum I had, it was the only mum I had, was in my dreams. 

And as matron, she said, you haven’t got, you haven’t got, you know, parents and things like this. You haven’t got anyone. One of the girls from the mission comes in they're going to come into the, into the homes. And then we find out what a mum is cause she had a mum, she comes in early, about, when she's about ten or eleven. And she had her parents with her. And then we used to talk about, she used to talk to me about a mum is this, Val, mum is that.  And I couldn't understand. I’d say well, if you got a mum, where’s my mum and why this, and why are you in here?  I said, why are you in here if you’ve got a mum, you know? I always thought all the girls didn’t have a mum and dad. 

Christmas time, that was a sad time too. Cause I used to look down, cause Cootamundra Home was on the hill. And I wrote a little poetry about Christmas, and I used to think, oh well, Santa must of forgotten us because we must have been bad kids or something. Or we must have been too black or something for him to see us and things like this, up at the home. I wasn’t allowed to go, go into town because of, I was too dark. But up the home, the fair skin ones, they were allowed to go into town. Cause they can pass for being white, you know.

We knew that, we had a feeling because some of the girls used to have their – staff used to be favouritism to some of the girls.  And we knew this. But the blooming dark skin ones like my sisters and I, we used to get belted, you know, things like that. When we used to go swimming, I mean the kids used to say, oh here comes the blackies, here comes the blackies, well we didn’t care we had the pool to ourselves.  So all the kids, white kids used to get out of the blooming, thought we – think we, you know, going to have poison or something is wrong with us.  You know, they all used to scatter and get out of the blooming pool. And when we went to the pictures we all segregated from the whites, you know, everything like that, you were segregated, you can't mix with the whites. 

[Trained to be domestic servants]
I didn't get that education out of the school because you knew already they were going to educate you up in the home to be a domestic servant. So you don't get – you don't get that much, you know, education. 

At fifteen I left school, and then I was trained up there to be a domestic worker, things like that, for a white family and things like that.  One job after I was going onto sixteen, I went down to town and worked for some person who was in the, like oh, the father was a bakery, the mother was a baker, I used to have to look after the, just do the housework down there.  And the next one, I was just moving around to each thing and then the next place was out at Wombat. Today I don't even know where that place is, honestly.  And I stayed there for six months. And just because, I mean, at the home they got a man to do all these odd jobs and things like that, milk the cows and do all these odd works for up the home.  Well, they expect me to go there and milk a cow like that.  Well I couldn't milk a cow, I just stick water in it. I milked the cow and I stuck water in it.  The next time I put the bucket on top, in the kitchen, on the table, then I had to go down and chop some blooming wood. And the axe cut me many times across here, axe used to slip, I had to cut wood for them.  The next minute, I was cutting the wood, and next minute, I could hear this, this bloke – my employer.  Valerie, get in here.  And I just, I started to shake.  And I went in there and he said, you put water in this milk.  And he said, if it happens again, he said, watch it, this is the first time, he said, watch it.  And then his wife went, his wife went – they owned a store in Wombat.  But he owned the store in Wombat and he got – and his wife went, and him, went into Wombat to the store and he took the kids into, into the school and he had – they had a little baby I had to look after the baby.  You know what I mean. So I put the baby down, just tried me luck – the nappy, how you put a nappy on, it goes like that, I wasn’t taught how you do nappies and things like that.  And so I put the baby down. And he came back, I was vacuuming the lounge. And he came back.  He, anyhow – and he came back and then it was the, and he passed me through the lounge room.  And then he said, Valerie – went into the kids room, I've already done the kids room. And then, in the kids room. And he said, Valerie get in here and make the kids bed.  And I already made the bed, I already done the – I already done that.  And he, then he threw me on the bed and he raped me.  I didn’t know what to do.  That night, that night when he came home I was shaking and I dropped the, I dropped the plate and cup when he – when I saw him. The next minute he gets the fence wire and he belts me all over my legs. I was trying to double up to try and protect myself.  And this happens, six months kept going, doing this to me. Then one – I had enough, you know. And I ran out of the house and my legs were bleeding.  He was still belting me, and his wife was there. And the daughter was there, and she was saying, give it to the nigger, mummy, give it to the nigger. And I was – I was bending over and I rushed outside, it was dark and windy, you know, winter.  And I slept in the wooden box and put a blooming – put a bag sack over me. I was shaking like a leaf. Then the next morning, the – I was looking, seeing if they were gone and they were gone. So I went back into the house, without realising what he’s  done, I thought I was going to get myself into trouble by matron, but then, I had to clean his shoes.  I had to clean his shoes and then next minute the police – someone knocked on the door and it was the police. I didn’t know who told him I was gone. And I was so frightened of the police, I was backing back. And he said, what's wrong Valerie? And I said, this man has been belting me with this wire.  And I said, and he done something to me. And he said, you go and get your clothes and get your – pack your bag.  He said, you're going back to Cootamundra. And then he took me back to, took me back to Wallabeen police station and matron was there. And we had, we had our lunch at the police station. And the next minute I'm on the way back to the home. Matron just turned around and she said, now Valerie, she said, don't mention and tell any of the girls what has happened to you. And when tomorrow comes I shall buy you a new dress. 

[Soon after Val was sent to work on another property]
I was so petrified, scared of the bloke. I was just, and this other girl she came over, another Cootamundra girl from the home. She came over, she was on a bike. And I said, I want to run away, I can't put up with the man, I can't put up with, you know, I'm scared of them. 

So I took, she said, oh go and get your case, she said we will go to Sydney. I said, okay we’ll go to Sydney.  So what happened, she was peddling the bike, I had the big case on my lap at the back of her. And the next thing we get a flat tyre.  So I threw the blooming clothes over the fence, and start hitch hiking to Wallabeen railway station. And these blokes from Cootamundra, in a truck, they came by. And then he, he said, oh girls, he said, you're off to work, you know, working at a property or something. We said, yes. He said, would you like a lift? We said, yeah. He didn’t know we were run aways. 

[The girls went to Sydney and welfare found them. They were sent to Parramatta Girls Home.]
To me it was the best thing that ever happened that I went into that place because Cootamundra had, just had no, you know, no wall around it. But Parramatta did, I felt safe.  I couldn't care less how long I got to stay in there, I would have stayed in there forever cause I was safe. Then years later then I started to try to kill myself, slash my wrists.

I went to a psychiatrist, I said, into Callan Park, putting me in the mental institution because I just wanted to die, I just didn’t want to live any more.  Because I thought I was in the wrong, all the time I was blaming myself, I was in the wrong.  Now I'm on blooming anti-depressants from now until I die. They should have checked these people out before they put Aborigine kids in these properties. You know. I wasn’t the first one that was raped and abused. It happened, widely spread among Aborigine girls and Aboriginal boys.  I would never, never forgive them for what happened. I would never forgive them.  To the day I die, I would never forgive them. 

[A poem written by Val Linnow]
Another night with lights turned off. Crying and suffering about why, why don't I have a mum and dad, like white children have?  Listen to them talking about their mum and dad, done that, done this.  Soon I fall asleep, another day has come. Oh why didn’t I have a mum and dad?  Another night, lights turn off. Crying softly about why, why don't I have a mum and dad?  Within my dream soon I can see that I do have a mum and dad within my dreams. 




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