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Issue #1747      September 7, 2016

Healing plans

NSW: Former residents of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home met in Glebe last month to plan their next steps for locating and linking with more ex-residents of the NSW south coast home, which Pastor Ray Minniecon described as the “birthplace of the Stolen Generations”.

Christine Blakeney revisits the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home.

“We don’t know where most of the ex-residents are, but we need to find them so that there can be collective healing,” he said.

Established on May 24, 1908, and run by the Bomaderry United Aboriginal Mission, Bomaderry Children’s Home was one of the first institutions in NSW for Aboriginal children who were forcibly taken from their families.

It was the beginning of institutionalised life for many members of the Stolen Generations.

The home housed babies and young children up to the age of 10. After that they were considered old enough to be moved on to Cootamundra Girls’ Home or Kinchela Boys’ Home.

These children thought the matrons were their mothers, and they were taught that they were white and to assimilate. Children learned to be matrons, but not mothers.

Many Aboriginal people who were held at Bomaderry say they can never forgive the government for the policy of removal which had placed them there, nor could they forget the impact it had on their lives.

No-one knows how many children were affected by living there.

Bomaderry Children’s Home was a private institution, and secretive. There are few records, with many having been destroyed. In 1922 there were 45 children at the home, and in 1924 there were 36. It closed in 1980.

On February 17, 2012, the home was listed on the NSW State Heritage Register and is now managed by the Nowra Local Aboriginal Land Council.

On February 2 this year, the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Stolen Generations conducted a site inspection of the home and listened to former residents who detailed their plans for the site, which would lay the foundations for their collective healing.

The former residents – along with Pastor Ray Minniecon, who also worked with the ex-residents of Kinchela Boys’ Home – have been instrumental in establishing an incorporated group that is creating a plan to locate all ex-residents and create a strong platform of coming together to heal and take care of one another.

Children of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home organisation chair Christine Blakeney and the plan consultant, Julie Moore, will speak with former residents about their experiences to gain an understanding of ongoing needs.

“We aren’t getting any younger and we have all been affected in different ways,” Blakeney said. “That’s why we need to find one another so we can then go to government and be clear in what resources we need and what plans we have for the resources.”

The Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home has strong social significance for the former residents and for the families and communities from whom the children were removed. Former residents have strong memories and feelings from their time spent in the home, and some speak of a sense of healing when they return.

Children of the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home members are asking former residents to contact Pastor Minniecon on 0417 929 701.

“This may be a very upsetting and emotional thing to talk about, but we would like this to become a story of coming together and healing together,” he said.

Koori Mail

Next article – CUB left flat

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