"National Apology to Forgotten Australians: Never Enough"

apology not accepted 41123The Hon Kevin Rudd MP

Prime Minister
Parliament House

National Apology to Forgotten Australians: Never Enough

Dear Mr. Rudd

I refer to the National Apology to Forgotten Australians to issue this month.

As a ‘bona fide’ member of this cohort, allow me to ‘enrich’ your abbreviated understanding as coached by your advisors, to this additional “stain” on the fabric of Australia’s secret history.

Throughout the twentieth century, children, often the most vulnerable, were seized by State and Territory welfare regimes. These children were apprehended under the pretext of protecting their welfare. Most detained Wards were then parceled out to religious and foster settings often exposing the same Wards to worse and more perverse abuse than they were allegedly ‘rescued’ from. Many of these Wards, including the writer, found their way back to the very System which had originally tossed them overboard in the first place.

Wards, as with the writer, labeled “placement problems” were condemned to spend their remaining childhood up until 18 years of age in Abu Grahid type institutions. When I was released in 1984, I was literally sat against a Perth street kerb, with a parcel of clothes 2 sizes too small.

It is not my intention to ‘bore’ you or your faceless whispering Advisor with my own narrative. I know from experience, politicians and their minions are rarely moved by the personal accounts of victims unless political gain or loss is at stake. In this case, the only commodity at stake is personal integrity and sincerity.

An abridged summary of my own tale is necessary to underscore the purpose of this correspondence, which is to stress an apology is grossly inadequate if it cannot address the real disadvantages confronting 1000s of Forgotten Australians today.

Please therefore again indulge another silent victim adrift in The Lucky Country.

In 1966 I was placed in the St Vincent’s Foundling Home Subiaco at 2 weeks of age. I remained here until 4 years, when the ‘charitable’ Sisters evicted me, returning me to xxxxxxx for unpaid maintenance bills. Approx 9 months later, WA police confiscated me from the xxxxxx for neglect and abuse.

At age 5 ‘welfare’ shoved me into a foster family composed of vulgar British immigrants. I was detained with this ‘family’ until 10 years of age, perennially enduring physical, emotional and verbal abuse. Repeated absconding eventually saw me being restored to ‘welfare’.

At age 10, ‘welfare’ returned me to the xxxxxx where a routine of neglect and abuse ensued. More absconding continued until I was returned to ‘welfare’ at 11 years. From here I was incarcerated in institutions until 18 years of age. A sample of these institutions as follows: LONGMORE, MT LAWLEY RECEPTION HOME, HILLSTON, PARKEVILLE, RIVERBANK, CLONTARF, MCCALL CENTRE, BRIDGEWATER.

In the small transits of ‘freedom’ between these institutions, I was on the kerb or dodging patrolling police wagons.

The volume and nature of abuse suffered within these institutions is too extensive and graphic to cover at this juncture, however, for a snapshot or rather a fragment of such abuse typical of institutional life, please refer to the 2003 Senate Inquiry into the Forgotten Australians.

It is impossible to convey the enormity and gravity of the criminal abuse I and 1000s of System Leavers experienced. Impossible, because nowhere is our harrowing ordeal codified in the pompous pages of cannon law or legislated in the bombastic records of the Hansard.
Our sadistic history, which is your sadistic history, truly is secret.

I have found the most effective method in communicating to those who care to listen, the savagery and criminality of the abuse meted out to Australian children by alleged ‘guardians’ is often by way of analogy. Thus the incredible injustice, apathy and abuse System Leavers have had to chronically endure could be contrasted with the following analogous scenario:

An adult approaches a venue populated with young children to then take ‘into custody’ for a single day a boy, to then seclude that boy in a backyard institution (a shed), to then discipline (chain, starve and brutalize) that child, to then return that rehabilitated (brutalize beaten) child to the same spot he took him ‘into custody’. Should the adult be held accountable? Is this a crime? Should the child be rescued, treated and compensated.

Rhetorical questions indeed: we know if this scenario took place today, a hundred cops would hunt the man or woman down, rescue the boy, and if the perpetrator had not been shot dead, he would be imprisoned for 20 years.

Substitute that boy with me, who was ‘taken into custody’ not for 1 day, but for 5096 days during of which I was beaten, tormented, tethered, starved and totally deprived of any semblance of a normal childhood. My perpetrators were male and female adults charged with the duty of my care!

Not a single criminal child abuser was and will ever be brought to account. WHY!

Does the immunity extended to so many hundreds of government sanctioned sadists, predators and thugs around Australia suggests then I and my fellow Wards are likewise entitled to invade the community, assault and maim children without fear of retribution whatsoever? Why is that boy in the park, snatwhed for a day, entitled to the full law enforcement resources of the State, while we System Leavers, snatched for years are entitled only to a belated apology?

The dissonance and hypocrisy of Australian law and justice is staggering! To subject me to 18 years of criminal abuse by State salaried staff, who not once received so much as a reprimand, must send a very dangerous message to FA victims. How do System Leavers reconcile to this ongoing travesty of ‘justice’ where abusers, their knuckles contorted with arthritis from the beatings administered, slip quietly into paid retirement, while the wounded victims rage everyday for a morsel of redemption.

And a belated apology is to make it all better! Or as in the case of WA, a now measly 45,000 dollars forms the entire sum of Barnett’s ‘apology’. One wonders if Barnett’s own sprogs were disappeared for 10 years, would an equal amount of ‘ex-gratia’ monies coupled with a ‘sorry’ slake his thirst for justice.

An apology to bear any relevance beyond symbolism needs to address or acknowledge the obscene hypocrisy in legal and social justice. It is not enough to admit abuse was perpetrated against Wards Australia-wide for half a century. This conduct must be criminalized and named for what it was. The countless ferocious crimes committed against Australian children over a protracted period of decades are tantamount to crimes against humanity.

The UN Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War provided for better and more humane treatment for captured enemies than the treatment meted out to Australian born children.

The SPCA (USA) provided for better treatment of animals than Australian governments >
provided for ‘stray’, neglected and orphaned children.

And there’s little point in citing the UN Convention on The Rights of the Child, given nearly every article was violated and ignored by respective State and Territory welfare regimes.

An apology now after so many years of being ignored, scorned, shunned, and disbelieved, is not only meaningless but perversely reminiscent of a common modus operandi by the predator welfare officer creeping back into the cell or dorm to whisper an apology to the sobbing huddled child.

Thus for me, your apology presents little more value than the remorseful thug returning to the scene of the crime whispering sorry.

I do not purport to speak on the behalf of any other System Leaver. This correspondence is solely a submission between me and the Australian Government. You can keep YOUR apology and in its stead extend to me something which I truly value and need. A thing denied to me since the first day I was admitted to a West Australian institution – a home.

Now in my 40s I remain as much dislocated and homeless as I did the day ‘welfare’ dumped me on the street kerb in 1984 when I reached 18 years of age. Providing housing to System Leavers will never purge the collective guilt Australian governments will eternally share in this most shameful cowardly chapter of Australian history, though an apology will come across less hollow if received inside a place called home.

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