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William's story


I can remember
this utility with a coffin...

I can remember this
utility with a coffin on top with flowers. As a little boy I saw it get
driven away knowing there was something inside that coffin that belonged
to me. I think I was about six years old at the time. This was the time
of our separation, after our mother passed away. My family tried to get
the Welfare to keep us here ... trying to keep us together. Aunty D in
Darwin - they wouldn't allow her to keep us. My uncle wanted to keep me
and he tried every way possible, apparently, to keep me. He was going
to try and adopt me but they wouldn't allow it. They sent us away.

As a little kid I
can't remember what was going on really, because I was a child and I thought
I was going on a trip with the other brothers. I just had excitement for
going on a trip. That's all I can think of at the time.

When St Francis [orphanage]
closed up, they sent us out to different places. My second eldest brother
and I went to a Mrs R. And my only recollections of that lady was when
we first went there. We were greeted at the door. The welfare officer
took us into this house and I can remember going into this room, and I'd
never seen a room like it. It was big, and here me and my brother were
going to share it. We put our bags down on the floor. We thought, 'This
is wonderful'. As soon as the welfare officer left, Mrs R took us outside
that room and put us in a two bed caravan out the back.

I was sleeping in
the caravan. I was only a little boy then. In the middle of the night
somebody come to the caravan and raped me. That person raped me and raped
me. I could feel the pain going through me. I cried and cried and they
stuffed my head in the pillow. And I had nobody to talk to. It wasn't
the only night it happened.

Oh God, it seemed
like night after night. It seemed like nobody cared. I don't know how
long it went on for, but night after night I'd see the bogey man. I never
saw the person. I don't know who that person was.

Then we were all
taken away again to a new home, to another place. We were shunted from
place to place, still trying to catch up with schooling, trying to find
friends. I had no-one. I just couldn't find anybody. And when I did have
a friend I was shunted off somewhere else, to some other place. Wanting
my mother, crying for my mother every night, day after day, knowing that
she'd never come home or come and get me. Nobody told me my mother died.
Nobody ...

They shifted us again
and that was into town again. And then they put us in with this bloke
... They've got records of what he did to me. That man abused me. He made
us do dirty things that we never wanted to do. Where was the counselling?
Where was the help I needed? They knew about it. The guy went to court.
He went to court but they did nothing for me, nothing. They sent us off
to the Child Psychology Unit. I remember the child psychologist saying,
'He's an Aboriginal kid, he'll never improve'.

He's got behavioural
problems'. I mean, why did I have behavioural problems? Why didn't they
do anything?

Why did I have
behavioural problems?

I hit the streets
of Adelaide. I drank myself stupid. I drank to take the pain, the misery
out of my life. I couldn't stop. I smoked dope, got drugs. I tried everything.
I did everything. I just couldn't cope with life. I lived under cardboard
boxes. I used to eat out of rubbish bins. I'm so ashamed of what I've

I suffer today. I
still suffer. I can't go to sleep at night. It's been on for years. I
just feel that pain. Oh God, I wake up in the middle of the night, same
time. My kids have asked me why I get up in the middle of the night and
I can't explain it, I can't tell them - shamed. I can't sleep too well
with it. I can't go to bed. I leave it 'til 12 o'clock sometimes before
I go to bed. I lay there awake, knowing I'm gonna wake up at that time
of the morning, night after night. I often wish I was dead. I often wish
I was gone. But I can't because of my children. You can't explain this
to your kids. Why did this happen? I had nobody.

I've had my secret
all my life. I tried to tell but I couldn't. I can't even talk to my own
brothers. I can't even talk to my sister. I fear people. I fear 'em all
the time. I don't go out. I stay home. It's rarely I've got friends.

I wish I was blacker.
I wish I had language. I wish I had my culture. I wish my family would
accept me as I am. We can't get together as a family. It's never worked.
We fight, we carry on. I've always wanted a family.

Confidential evidence
553, Northern Territory: man removed from Alice Springs to Adelaide in
the 1950s.
William's story appears on page 371 of Bringing them

Last updated 2 December 2001.