When Pastor Sir Doug Nicholls first moved to Melbourne, he settled in the Fitzroy area, his hospitality and counsel proving a magnet for Aboriginals wanting to move to the city.
One morning in the early 70s, a friend and I went to the Social Security Office in Gertrude Street. We went early, hoping to avoid the rush, but were horrified to see a queue a mile long waiting for the doors to open. About 5 minutes after the Social Security Office opened for business, the VD clinic next door opened, and we were relieved to see 90% of the queue move to the right.
Inside the social security office, my friend wandered off to check out all the fancy brochures, while I waited in line with her little girl, SJ.
An Aboriginal man, possibly about 50 years old, came up to me and tried to whisper quietly but forcefully that I should hold SJ’s hand – hold it tight. He was insistent and it took me a few moments to understand and then process his advice. I took SJ’s hand mainly because he was becoming quite distressed.
It took me many years to make a connection between that incident and the Stolen Children enquiry.
Andrew Bolt and Windschuttle insist that the “black armband” view of Australia’s Aboriginal history is a fabrication.
They criticise the scholarship of other historians, and nit pick about intentions and interpretations of various documents.
One of their strong arguments is that the whole stolen children’s business is a political fabrication because, if it were true, why did none of the stories emerge until AFTER the tent embassy was established.
The truth is that – with the exception of some rather radical and politicised Aboriginals who were involved with the tent embassy after this incident– for many years I never met an Aboriginal person who would dream of volunteering their history, or discussing their spiritual beliefs.
Whenever she cut SJ’s hair, F was careful to sweep up and burn all the clippings but, beyond that, was downright evasive if asked anything about her people or her upbringing on the Cherbourg Mission in Queensland.
The “bringing them home” report into the stolen generations marked the first time anyone promised to listen to what Aboriginals had to say about the whole sorry saga.
I believe the stories in the report, because I was once a shameless dole bludger.