Bringing them Home - Evie story

Evie

My grandmother was taken from up Tennant Creek. What gave them the right to just go and take them? They brought her down to The Bungalow [at Alice Springs]. Then she had Uncle Billy and my Mum to an Aboriginal Protection Officer. She had no say in that from what I can gather. And then from there they sent her out to Hermannsburg - because you know, she was only 14 when she had Uncle Billy, 15 when she had Mum. When she was 15 and a half they took her to Hermannsburg and married her up to an Aranda man. That's a no-no.

And then from there, when Mum was 3, they ended up taking Mum from Hermannsburg, putting her in The Bungalow until she was 11. And then they sent her to Mulgoa mission in New South Wales. From there they sent her to Carlingford Girls' Home to be a maid. She couldn't get back to the Territory and she'd had a little baby.

Agnes [witness's sister] and I have met him [their older brother]. We met him when he was 35. He's now 42 so that's not that far away. Mum had him and she was working but she doesn't know what happened to her money. When she kept asking for her money so she could pay her fare back to Alice Springs they wouldn't give her any.

I've got paperwork on her from Archives in New South Wales. There's letters - stacks of 'em - between the Aboriginal Protection Board, New South Wales, and Northern Territory. All on my mother. They were fighting about which jurisdiction she was in - New South Wales yet she was a kid from the Northern Territory. So one State was saying we're not paying because she's New South Wales, they should pay.

In the end New South Wales said to Mum, 'I'll pay your fare back on the condition that because you haven't got a husband and you've got a baby, you leave that baby here'. So she left her baby behind and came back to the Territory.

And then she had me and then my brother and another two brothers and a sister and we were all taken away as soon as we were born. Two of them were put in Retta Dixon and by the time they were 18 months old they were sent down south and adopted. She had two kids, like they were 15 months apart, but as soon as they turned 18 months old they were sent down south and adopted out.

One of them came back in 1992. He just has that many problems. The others we don't know where they are. So it's like we've still got a broken family.

I was taken away in 1950 when I was 6 hours old from hospital and put into Retta Dixon until I was 2 months old and then sent to Garden Point. I lived in Garden Point until 1964. And from Garden Point, Tennant Creek, Hermannsburg. While in Garden Point I always say that some of it was the happiest time of my life; others it was the saddest time of my life. The happiest time was, 'Yippee! all these other kids there'. You know, you got to play with them every day. The saddest times were the abuse. Not only the physical abuse, the sexual abuse by the priests over there. And they were the saddest because if you were to tell anyone, well, the priests threatened that they would actually come and get you.

Everyone could see what they were doing but were told to keep quiet. And just every day you used to get hidings with the stock-whip. Doesn't matter what you did wrong, you'd get a hiding with the stock-whip. If you didn't want to go to church, well you got slapped about the head. We had to go to church three times a day. I was actually relieved to leave the Island.

Q: Did any girls get pregnant at Garden Point when you were there?

I remember one and they actually took her off the Island. And when I ask everyone, like even now when I ask people about her, they don't know what happened to her. All they remember is her being put on the helicopter and flown out and I've never heard her, about her name or anything about her anymore. They remember her but don't know what happened to her.

Q: Who was the Father?

The Priest. The same bastards who ...

Q: How do people know that?

Well, the reason they know is, Sister A, poor thing, who's dead - I know she was upset because that priest had that young girl living in his place. He used to come and get her out of the dormitory every night. He used to sneak in about half past twelve, one o'clock in the morning and take her. We'd get up in the morning and she'd be just coming in the door.

All the girls slept in one dormitory. All the boys slept in the other. And we couldn't lock the dormitory from the inside - it had a chain through and padlock outside, so there was only the nuns or priest could get in there. I know he used to come and get her because I was three beds up from her.

There was another priest, but he's dead. The rest of the mob that were on the Island are all dead. He's the only one that's kicking and he should have been the one that's bloody dead for what he did. He not only did it to girls, he did it to boys as well. There was six of 'em involved. Nuns were assaulting the young fellas as well as the priest assaulting the young fellas and the girls.

There was four priests and two nuns involved. We were in their care. That fella's still walking around. He's now got charge of other kids. He's got charge of other kids in D.

In 1977 I had three children. In 1977 my oldest was three years old then. I had another one that was twelve months and another one that was two months old. All those kids were taken off me. The reason behind that was, well, I'd asked my girl-friend and so-called sister-in-law if she could look after my kids. She wouldn't look after my daughter because my daughter's black. So, she said she'd take the two boys and that was fine. And while I was in hospital for three months - that's the only reason I asked them to take 'em 'cause I was going to hospital because I had septicaemia.

I couldn't get my kids back when I came out of hospital. And I fought the welfare system for ten years and still couldn't get 'em. I gave up after ten years. Once I gave up I found out that while I was in hospital, my sister-in-law wanted to go overseas with my two boys 'cause her husband was being posted there for 12 months from foreign affairs. And I know she brought some papers in for me to sign while I was in hospital and she said they were just papers for their passports. Stupid me, being sick and what-have-you didn't ask questions - I signed 'em and found out too late they were adoption papers. I had 30 days to revoke any orders that I'd signed.

And with my daughter, well she came back in '88 but things just aren't working out there. She blames me for everything that went wrong. She's got this hate about her - doesn't want to know. The two boys know where I am but turned around and said to us, 'You're not our mother - we know who our real mother is'.

So every day of your bloody life you just get hurt all the time ...

Confidential evidence 557, Northern Territory. Evie's story appears on page 147 of Bringing them home. Last updated 2 December 2001.