Indigenous Events and Resources

Indigenous events at the University are organised by the Southern Cross University Indigenous Events Coordinating Committee (SCUIECC), a broadly inclusive group with membership open to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students, staff and the community.

Consultation occurs regularly within the University community (including staff and student groups) and with local Indigenous communities, Aboriginal Interagency Committees, Elders, schools and local government and non-government organisations.

Southern Cross University is located in a regional area and, in terms of its demographics, has high numbers of students from low socio-economic, mature age and Indigenous backgrounds. Combined, these factors produce both a scarcity of opportunities, when compared to a metropolitan centre, as well as a lack of resources to engage the arts and local Indigenous communities.

SCUIECC aims to develop the groundwork for a substantial cultural development program in a regional area with a large Indigenous population. By building and strengthening links between the University and the communities within its regional footprint, it seeks to create employment opportunities for local Indigenous artists and cultural workers, provide skill development for students and others through workshops, and build cultural capital and capacity in the wider community.


Events calendar


Southern Cross University


National Sorry Day 2018 - Coffs Harbour campus (23 May 2018) featuring Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Video transcript: The Healing Continues - Sorry Day 2018

Troy Robinson

Giinagay everybody, and welcome, and jingy walla from all the Bundjalung mob up there in Widjabul Wai’bul and up in Gold Coast there as well. Welcome, welcome to 2018 National Sorry Day, what a beautiful day it is today as well. Firstly I would like to introduce myself, my name is Troy Robinson, I’m a local Gumbaynggirr Elder here in Gumbaynggirr country, and yeah.

[Welcome and introduction in Gumbaynggirr language].

So yeah, thank you, good to see you all. This is Gumbaynggirr country I’m Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung and Dhanggati blood runs through my veins and this is also Coffs Harbour which comes from the old Garlamga which is the red oak tree down at the river, down in the heart of Coffs Harbour and that’s where Garlambirla got their beautiful name from and welcome to Coffs Harbour and welcome to Gumbaynggirr sacred place.

Before I start we are going to start with a formal welcome. We’re gonna mix it up this year, we’re gonna have Uncle Porky Ballangarry come on down and just make him welcome please, yep, Uncle Porky. And we also have Dylan Kelly here, one of our younger generation. So please make him welcome. Dylan’s an Indigenous Knowledge student here at Southern Cross University and yeah, firstly I’ll start with Uncle, to give a welcome from a local Elder, eh?

Uncle Porky

Hi everybody, how are you? And you’re probably wondering why he calls me Porky. I’ve been called that since I was that big, so yeah, and it stuck with me ever since, because when I was first born my hair stood up like a porcupine and my Uncle Eric give it to me and I was very proud of it, and I’m proud to wear the name because of my uncle. He was a gentle man, so yeah. So, I’d like to welcome yous all here today to the Gumbaynggirr Nation and for all the other people who are gathered everywhere else around Australia on this very special day, thank you.

Troy Robinson

Thanks Unkie, and ah – yeah, give him a clap – and Dylan’s gonna do us one in Language.

Dylan Kelly

[Welcome to country and introduction in Gumbaynggirr language]

Good morning everyone, my name is Dylan Kelly, I’m a Gumbaynggirr, Dhanggati and Yuin man from the Cabbage, place of the Cabbage Palm in Bowraville and the place of the spirits at Yellow Rock near Urunga there. And my bloodlines come from this country here, the Dhanggati Nation in Kempsey, and the Yuin Nation of the south coast. So today I just want to welcome you all here, but firstly, we pay our respects to the Elders of this country, past present and emerging and extend those respects to all Elders with us today. Our dearest Aunty Elaine, and Uncle Porky up the top there, and ah on behalf of the Gumbaynggirr people and the mob here at Southern Cross University I just want to offer the warmest welcomes and I hope you have a wonderful day, and I just welcome Sorry Day 2018. Thank you.

Troy Robinson

Thank you. Wow, absolutely amazing. You know, and if I could please get everybody up and standing  we’ve had a dear Uncle just pass away and we’ve celebrated his life last week, and that was Uncle Larry Kelly, and Uncle Larry Kelly has had a lot to do with Gnibi, as well as Southern Cross University, and communities all over Gumbaynggirr and Bundjalung country. So, if we could have a minute’s silence, that would be absolutely amazing, as well as for all our Elders, past and present, ah past – that have passed, and to our Elders present here today, our future. Thank you.

[One Minute silence]

Thank you very much.

Okay. So we’re going to start with a formal proceedings now. Obviously we did the Welcome to Country. I would like to invite a special, special woman to come and sit, sit up on the panel here, and firstly I would like to thank Gnibi, our Gnibi School up there in Lismore, and across the three campuses for, for supporting and giving Aunty Elaine Turnbull a chance and the opportunity to come and share her story, to not only us, but all the way up there in Gold Coast and Lismore. So, thank you very much to Gnibi for that, and Southern Cross University.

Something that Aunty Elaine shared, that I’d like to share as well. Aunty Elaine is a local Gumbaynggirr Elder and Bundjalung Elder and some of her writing here that I’d like to share with everyone, that she can, obviously, talk more on:

“The healing continues. Sorry Day. It means a lot to us Stolen Generations. I can relate to what happened and the feeling of being taken from family. It’s something that we never get over, but we learn to live with it and, many thanks to my Elders, I have healed.”

So please make her welcome beautiful Aunty Elaine Turnbull. Thank you.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull
Giiniagay everyone. Welcome. And to all in Bundjalung country and up in the Gold Coast, we thank you for your attendance and very interesting on this beautiful day, National Sorry Day, it is a sad day for a lot of our people.

This is the National Sorry Day, just to explain for those who are not to aware of why, I wouldn’t say we celebrate, but we acknowledge the sad time that we were taken, myself included, and of course there’s not one Aboriginal family in this country that it hasn’t affected: their children being taken, due to government policies and practices. So, why we have this Sorry Day – after Kevin Rudd’s apology in Canberra, which I went down to – I’ll show you on the Powerpoint. But, while we, I wouldn’t say celebrate, but why acknowledge Sorry Day is to make sure that we don’t continue the stolen generations, or our children taken from us. So for you who have beautiful children, please love them and look after them. Because what happened to us, or what happened to me, was very traumatic of course, and ah, thankfully, with a lot of healing, we have come through, through it.

So, um, I’ll just explain here, National Sorry Day, for those of you who can’t read that piece.

And the five W’s:

Who – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formerly apologised to the Indigenous Australians on behalf of the government at the time and past governments throughout Australia’s history. This was on the 13th February 2008.

What – National Sorry Day is a day in Australia which commemorates the apology that was given to the Indigenous Australian’s in 2008. It aims to raise awareness about the suffering of the Stolen Generations and help increase equality for these peoples.

Where – National sorry day is commemorated around Australia. The speech is 2008 was given in federal parliament in Canberra in front of hundreds of politicians. Many people across the country also listened in or watched the broadcast on their televisions or radios.

Why – The Stolen Generations saw Indigenous children forcibly taken from their families and made to assimilate with white people. National Sorry Day cannot change what has happened in the past; however, it can help to raise awareness so that it will not happen again and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to achieve greater equality.

When – The speech was given on the 13th of February 2008. The stolen generations however, were forcibly taken from their families for over 150 years. The policy that allowed children to be taken ended in 1969 but there were many people who never saw their families again.

And sadly, a lot of our people have passed away without identity, and everything else.

So this is my personal introduction:

My father is Bundjalung, Waalubal. I’m Aunty Elaine Turnbull here, an Elder here in Coffs Harbour. Garlambirla as we call Coffs Harbour in the Gumbaynggirr language. And I’m at Southern Cross University doing my doctorate in Indigenous Philosophies Research, and it will be on my life story – similar to what is going on here, the stolen generations. My mother is a Biripi woman, or was a Biripi woman – that’s down at Wauchope way.

So I just wanted to put up here, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary ‘Stolen Generations’: The Aboriginal people removed from their families as children between the 1900s and the 1960s to be brought up by white foster families, or in institutions. Page 1420.

The Coventry Girls home, that’s where we were taken, my two sisters and I. And this is up in Armidale, NSW. Very cold country. I was there until we were sixteen and then they just let us leave there to be domestic servants. A girls training home. The Kinchella Boys home, my two brothers were put in there. Some people might be familiar with Kinchella, it’s down in Kempsey, a very hard life. My brother is two years younger than me, he refuses to speak of it. He’s still in trauma and hasn’t healed since.

Now, when we were taken, we were put in the back of a truck. That’s not us, but similar, are the policies that kids were taken and just put in the back of trucks, like cattle. And we were taken from Tingha or Inverell, NSW, up to Armidale. And put in the girls home there. The Coventry Girls home, what you just saw.

We wore similar uniforms, similar uniforms in going to high school. One good thing that came out of it was that I got a good education. Which has allowed me to attend uni at the moment.

Religion, which was a very big thing. It was just shoved down our throats. And I just got up here, St Peter’s Church of England. This was every day, religion was every day. Sunday school, and we had an evening service on Sunday. So, wonder why a lot of our people have been turned away from religion, and ah, we’ve come back to our spiritual way of life. So. Yeah. I mean I attend weddings or funerals through churches, but I don’t attend church at all, after practically living in church in Armidale. And as we know Armidale has churches everywhere and schools, uni.

I wanted to mention my sister, and my mother Lorraine Mafi-Williams, who has passed away now. But she was my elder sister and she was like a mother, and she helped me through the trauma, although she was traumatised herself. And I remember her saying to me, even to this day, because I used to cry and carry on, and asked: ‘Why this happened to us? Where was mum and dad?’ And she said ‘Well, we’ve got to educate these white fella’s: that they can’t steal us from mum and dad.’ So this is another thing why I am in education.

So you can see the Kinchella Boys home. That was a very hard place. As I said, my brother never speaks about it and at Kinchella boys home it was training, as he said, ‘Training to be a white’. In other words, training for not who they were. So, and it’s a very, what’s the word, at the moment the same Kinchella place is a healing and of course it’s a mental health area. So, there you go. There’s a difference.

I got these online because they affected me so much. This mother, on the left, it just tells us what happens and I always think of my mother when I see that statue, and I know that a lot of our people can connect with that image as well. So, very sad. And that’s in Victoria, too, by the way. The other one is the same, a mother, Aboriginal mother with her children. And it’s interesting, there’s an angel, a black angel on the top, guarding them. So, very powerful images.

This picture was taken in – Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Bringing Them Home report. And the red sandhills shaped like a large football oval. The people told us when the wind gets inside this large oval ... it makes a wailing noise and is the mothers crying for their children who were taken away.

That was held in Sydney, which I attended as well. For the Stolen Generations.

This is the 2008 Apology from Kevin Rudd. I went down to Canberra for this. I couldn’t get in, because it was that crowded. But we heard and we saw it on, as it showed there, on TV. But a lot of our people still didn’t accept, you know, the sorry. But personally I do, because it helps us move on and of course to heal. To know that the government who stole us acknowledged and said sorry. Because if you do something wrong to someone you say sorry so we can heal. And that was in 2008. So Kevin did something right when he was in politics.

So that was me down there, in Canberra. Very cold. And it’s interesting on the right, I couldn’t get over all the police that were there, I don’t know whether they were expecting us to riot or whatever, but that’s only a part of what the photo I took of the police. They were just everywhere. So it was a bit sad to see that, really. I don’t know what they were expecting. Whether we were going to riot or whatever. But yeah, a bit upsetting to see it.

So these are images of spiritual healing. This is what got me through, and of course a lot of our people, we go back to our culture, our spiritual healing. And I put these here because of women’s but we know that our men suffered as well. For their children to be taken. But I just wanted to concentrate on, because I’m a female, and just put female energies across. But my dear father, I acknowledge him, he didn’t get over it he turned to drink, because his children were taken. And of course he died from alcoholism. And my mum, she passed away when she was about fifty. So that’s a young age, because all her children were taken from her. And I took that image there, it struck me very strong, as Aboriginal women, or black women, sticking together, is what we need to do, instead of being apart. So it’s a very powerful image.

So some spiritual indigenous statements:

It is our birthright as human beings to declare our true status as People of the earth and if we collectively reject the delusional separation from nature that Empire has forced upon us, we can move back into right relationship with the Earth and all beings.”

“We don’t own the land, the land owns us. The land is my mother, my mother is [in] the land. Land is the starting point to where it all began. It’s like picking up a piece of dirt and saying this is where I started and this is where [I will] go. The land is our food, our culture, our spirit and identity.”

And they’re great sayings, which we need to abide by. They’re very powerful words.

So re-healing Indigenous families. This is how families that, you know, could be, and will be, and they’re very powerful images of families. And of course the children on the right, they have every right to be happy and play. And this is how our life should be. So, yeah. That’s about, that’s about it, Troy.

Well, I think we’re at Question time, now?

Troy Robinson

Thank you Aunty, Aunty Elaine, for sharing, ah, you know, your story. Obviously you, you’ve ah, done a lot of work around your own spiritual healing, and, which is absolutely amazing. And I guess we’ve got a lot of young people here today, you know, studying and, but some don’t know about what happened. Some, or they might know what happened, but just don’t know what, you know, what went on. I think I was sitting Parliament House when we did the Language legislation and you know people like young Dylan here, and Uncle Porky here, our Elder. You know, Dylan learnt all his language off Uncle Porky. You know back then we didn’t, didn’t, weren’t able to, to learn any of our language. And I think, ah, there was an old man that, that, that was in parliament house and he just literarily broke down when one of the ministers was talking about, who had been there from day dot, and talking about these stories that he heard of our children getting tied to trees because they were, you know.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

I just wanna add, now that we’re talking about language. When I was seven years old, when I was, my two sisters and I were put in the girls home, we spoke Bundjalung, Dad’s language fluently, but every time we spoke it we were knocked, knocked to the ground and we were told ‘We only speak English here’. So sadly never spoke Bundjalung again.

Troy Robinson

We would like to open up the floor as well, if our elders would like to come up, take a seat, we’ve got a couple of spare chairs here. And if they can not answer the phone, that’ll be deadly. Uncle Martin Ballangarry that is up there, I’ll just let youse all know. He’s very famous for it. If anybody, even up in Gold Coast as well as Lismore, if you’ve got any questions for Aunty Elaine, she’ll be so happy to answer them. And especially you young mob in here. I don’t mean to put youse all on show, but we absolutely love having you here and thank you very much for coming. But if you have any questions for Aunty Elaine, please shoot.

Coffs Harbour audience member

Thank you Aunty for sharing your story. How many siblings do you have, and have you been reconnected with them all?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Yep. Two brothers, and two sisters. Yeah, but my brothers, one was nearly sixteen, so he didn’t, wasn’t, He was there ‘till he turned sixt– he was fifteen and then he turned sixteen and they, they don’t keep us in the homes, at that time, this was 1952. Yeah. And two sisters. One, ah, yeah the two older. They’ve sadly passed on, now. So, Yeah. Thank you

Coffs Harbour audience member

Hi my name is Farley, I was just wondering. How did you start your healing after all that trauma you faced?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Well, really, it started with my older sister. Now I was nine, she was about eleven. But dad, our father, was very political and he, he drummed it in to her, he had, what the politics were at the time. And what sticks in my head now, is I said to her ‘Why is this happening to us? Where’s mum and dad? Don’t they want us?’ and all this, as a young kid, at the time. And I used to cling to my older sister. And she said ‘Well we’ve gotta be educated and just teach white people that they can’t take us from mum and dad’. So this is why I’m in education, and that is a big healing process for me. Thank you.

Lismore audience member

Thank you Elaine. You mentioned your brother refuses to talk about his experiences. Do you see any chance that ah, he’ll ah, he’ll speak about it one day? Like what’s involved in his healing process, do you think that he is engaging in that, and what’s involved in his own healing process?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you for the question. No, my brother, he’s two years older – ah, two years younger than I, and If anyone is familiar with Kempsey – it was a training home, what we showed up on the picture there – that were very cruel to the boys. And as I said, he never, never talks about it, ‘cause sadly he hasn’t healed. And he refuses to speak about it. He lives in Sydney, so he’s not up here in Coffs Harbour. He visits, but um, and I’ve asked him, and he wouldn’t get married, and I asked him one day why he didn’t get married. He said ‘Well, if I have children, are the government gonna take them from me?’ So he’s still a single man, very hurt. And very in, you know, trauma. So, yeah.

Troy Robinson

Thank you Aunty.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you

Troy Robinson

Thank you. I just got one question down in Coffs Harbour here.

Coffs Harbour audience member

My name’s Iris, and I’d like to acknowledge the Elders past and present. What can we do, as white Australians to help make up for what has happened in the past?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you. Well, to support us, and of course, you know, make your governments aware of what policies and that, that they are making. Because this is what allowed us to be just taken, without, you know, any recourse from our parents. And of course, to know what the politics and that are about, a lot of people can’t stand politics, but they [politicians] are the people that effect us all, so we need to be well aware and ah, you know, just make sure what policies they are passing for us to live under. And ah, if we’re aware, and we love our kids, of course we all do, we, we need to make sure that they are still with us. Because that’s what happened to our people, you know, kids were just taken. Thank you.

Troy Robinson

I’ve just got one more question.

Lismore audience member

My name is Susie. I am interested, did you get to reconnect with your parents, and I have a second question about language. Given that you were fluent in Bundjalung at seven, and then when you left, um, when you were sixteen, could, could you ever communicate? How did that effect your communication with your elders and the people that you first grew up with?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

I reconnected with, ah, mum and dad. We were in Armidale, mum and dad were living down in Taree, on the, on the mission down there at the time. So at that time, which was very unusual, I got a boyfriend who had a car, and ah I asked him to take me down to Port Macquarie to re-meet my family, my mother and father. They knew who I was when I first met them, you know, er, reconnected. And of course, mum, mum told us that she wrote letters and tried to contact us while we were in the girls home, but they wouldn’t, didn’t pass the mail or anything on, messages on. So. Which was very sad. But as I said, I was nineteen years old when I reconnected with mum and dad. What was the other question by the way sorry?

Lismore audience member

Okay, I’m back. I, I was wondering about language because you were fluent in Bundjalung when you were a young girl. How did, how did that effect you later when you weren’t talking Bundjalung to your Elders? And to your parents?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Aboriginal people, with Aboriginal people it’s a small world. Everyone knows everyone. And when I reconnected at Southern Cross University, and a lot of the Bundjalung Elders from up there, they knew my people. Dad was born in a women’s birthing area, at Tabulum. And of course the old people know everybody and know whose who, and they knew me. Although I didn’t get, I wasn’t born there or anything, so, yeah.

Coffs Harbour audience member

My name’s Hamish. Just a bit of a follow up. Is there any, in terms of policy, are children still being taken away?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Sorry, I didn’t catch that?

Coffs Harbour audience member

Are children still being taken away? At this point in history?

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Some people say there is. It’s, it’s still ongoing, but I’m not too sure. You know, you mention DOCS to a lot of our people and that’s, that’s, you know, children’s, and ah they’re very – can I say – toey about it, you know. But I think, I’ve been told, some children are still, you know, still taken away. So, yeah.

Martin Ballangarry

Hello. My name is Martin Ballangarry. I just like to big note to myself, as per usual, sorry about the phone call a bit earlier. But the DOCS: we can go back to Channel 7 a couple of weeks ago, months ago, and that was a big thing that was happening. Maybe I should stand up? Can you see me all at the back way?

I think, you know, all the laws of the past are still here today. And they still govern us as Aboriginal people. Whether we like it, or whether we like to believe it or not, you know, it’s still here, the section 16A brackets etc. Section 14.1C. I mean I’m just quoting some of the, from the DOCS okay, and that’s only DOCS only.

But I, we can hear Aunty talking about her growing up and being taken away. I, as a kid that was on a mission, Bowraville, and I see all that happen. We, we were scared, you know we were all traumatised. This word ‘traumatised’. We are still traumatised today, regardless. In every aspect, retrospect, whatever. We are still traumatised today. I mean, there’s a lot of other white kids that been taken away too. I seen an Elder, that come back, and he still has not identified himself, his family have turned him away completely. He was an Elder, senior Elder. In his old age. And he has not recovered from that, but I supported him right throughout his days coming back here, finding out who he was and is. And I supported him right throughout all that period.

But I was a, one of the kids on the Bowraville mission. I seen a lot about boys, young fella’s, in the early 70s, up into the 60s. 60s–70s. This all went on you know. Kinchella Boys was open right up until what year? Anybody know? ‘74? Seventy something? ‘74. You know, that’s a long time for an institution to be open. And for the healing process to happen it’s gonna take ten times that time, you know? Mentally, we are human, our brain get effected.

But, yeah, I’m still traumatised by seeing the little kids with Mr Norman. Mr Norman he was the welfare officer at the time, he came and, with the police. And not only that, the police took actions as well. They shot our pets in front of us. Our pets, you know. And that traumatised me. And I’m still traumatised by my –, I don’t even own a pet today. I won’t even have a pet dog no more. Because of that traumatisation. And I seen my nephews, my whole lot of them, bunch of them, being taken, taken away to what, what you call them place there? Kinchella Boys. A lot of them boys from Bowraville was taken over there too, you know. And they still traumatised today and it’s a long healing process that is gonna have to take, I don’t know how the government is gonna have a thing. But we need to have a black party in there somewhere. We need an Aboriginal Party. You know, we’ve got first Nation, One Nation, what’s that Pauline Hansen one? We’ve got her. We need a Black Nation one. Don’t we? I think we need to lobby up in Bundjalung, everywhere, right along east coast, right throughout okay? That’ll be it from me. Uncle Pork, got something to say?

 Troy Robinson

Thank you Uncle Martin. Thank you very much. And, yeah, cheers.

We’ve got to get Uncle Martin in here to do some study as well, ‘cause he, he loves to have a yarn, eh Unkie? And I can relate with that, my father was also taken to Parramatta Boys Home, around that same time. Ah, there was seven of them and my baby Aunty, she was tucked away in a draw and hid, by nan. Because when they seen that black car come up, you know, that’s when they were gonna take the kids and they got, and my father, they got taken. And he’s 62. So like Unc said, back in the 60s and 70s they were still doing it, so. I think Uncle Porky Ballangarry has got something to say?

Uncle Porky Ballangarry

One thing they don’t talk about it the rape of the boys and everything else. So, it was ah, absolutely shocking. No one talks about it, but the boys homes, the boys were raped and everything else, so, you know. It wasn’t only the girls and that, so, it, the whole thing was. I was pretty fortunate, because my Aunt, great auntie, she was married to a white man, and we would go to the farm, they had a farm, they had three farms. And we’d milk cows and everything else, you know, so yeah. And the welfare did come, and he stood at the gate, with a double barrel shot-gun, he said ‘You come out through that gate,’ he said ‘you won’t walk back out’. He jumped in his black mariah and left, and never seen him again. So, you know, there’s lots of stories like that, where people have stood up and they just wandered away, but ah, yeah, but a lot of the stuff should come to light. Different stories, just to show how strong other people were. Besides the Aboriginal people, the white people as well. They were all very supportive, and all the kids knew us. Martin’s dad, he used to work on the railway, same as my dad, so, you know. And they had lots of friends there, and once they shoved us on a train, from Sydney to Eungai or Macksville, all the conductors would look after you, and they would lock the door so no one could get in there anyways, ‘cause ah, in some of these carriages they, the seating was, there was toilets within that there seating area as well, there was a door anyway, so, yeah. So it was all pretty good, ah, in areas. So a lot of us didn’t understand it.

My grandmother, she only spoke in Language, and believe me, you knew what she was talking about, because she’d soon let you know. Believe me, so, yeah, and I lived with her for about 12 months and when I was little I spoke fluent Language, but when I went back home, because there was no one there to talk to, it fades away. But at times you sit and listen and you pick up on certain words, so a lot of the old fellas would speak about seven languages because of communication that was even to the tablelands and that, up in Armidale and that. So it was amazing how much language was spoke. A lot of it went underground and it was still alive and especially in Kempsey it went right underground, so yeah, so it was amazing. And well, going back a few years now, you sit down and talk to a lot of the old fellas and they’d tell you. But men only, they would talk to, in what happened and talked about Language and everything else and they’d tell you certain things and they’ll say ‘don’t let it go no further’, because it’s gotta be put to rest. Okay, thank you.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you, Uncle. Yeah there was a lot of terrible stories, very traumatic of when the government were taking kids. Mothers and fathers hid their kids. We hear that they were buried, their kids, hid them in the trees, up the trees. Anywhere where the government couldn’t just take them. And they did that over, not only the once, but all the time. When they knew what was happening. But sadly, eventually they did get most of the kids.

I just want to add as well, in this girls home, where I was. There were us three, this was the 1952, was us three Koori kids, my sister, two other ones, and the rest were white girls. Now they used to pair us up because of the age, and I had a good friend, a white girl. And I always used to ask her where what she was from and, you know, what her name was, and everything, but we were good friends. She said to me, and it sticks in my mind today. She doesn’t remember who she was, where she came from, and she had two brothers. And learning of the politics when I left that girls home and learning the politics. These were girls that were taken from the British Isles, put on the train, put on the boats, brought out here to Australia to repopulate Australia. Because this was after the Second World War, so a lot of these girls were like us, stolen generations. But these were white girls. And we were, we were sisters, because we all grew up together. So, it’s very sad that they got an apology as well. But so it should have been. This, I mean, the same thing. They were told they didn’t have parents or families or anything over in England, which was a big lie. Now a lot of them are my age, or even passed away, not knowing who their rellies were, mother and father and relations. And some of them have gone back to England and, to try and chase up their families. So, it’s a very sad history of what happened, of what happened to children, you know. And not only us blackfellas, but white people as well. Ah, very sad. And they were all white, they were my sisters, you know and until I learnt of the politics of what, why they were there in the girls home. And they were just brought out here to repopulate Australia. This was after the Second World War, and told they had no relatives, they were out here to, you know, to live , and ah, yeah, and they only got apology a couple of years ago, so yeah. Very sad. Very sad history.

Yeah, and as I mentioned, my brother, he was, grew up, and he was only … five years old I think he was, and he’s, he’s never healed, he’s never had – got married and had kids for that very reason. That they’ll be taken. So. And if at that affected him, you know, how many other of our people that it’s effected. They wouldn’t have families or children for that very reason, that the government will take them away.

Associate Professor Rachel Lynwood

Hi, just up here in Lismore, Aunty Elaine, and everyone. It’s Rachel Lynwood and um, yeah just really, I’m just been listening very quietly and very deeply to what you’ve shared Aunt, in terms of everything of your life experience, and listening to what Uncle Martin Ballangarry and Uncle Porky Ballangarry and other people have been sharing, but particularly all of you as our Elders, and I just wanted to, I just felt it’s important to, on this occasion, to deeply, and respectfully honour everything that you’ve shared in terms of what you’ve lived through and the fact that you are all here today. And when I listen you speak, when I listen to all of you Elders speak, that have been speaking this morning. I feel the deep strength, and I feel the deep, yeah there’s just a very deep love and strength that I feel in all of you. And that’s something that all of us younger ones and people of all generations Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can truly learn from. And I always feel deeply honoured when you’re sharing experiences that are actually deeply personal, so listening to you and the two uncles there talking. You could feel there’s a very deep personal, underlying feeling in what you’re sharing and that to me shows an absolute strength. Because not everyone’s able to do that because they find it too hard. But all you have been sharing it so honestly and in a way that we can all truly learn from and I feel that there’s a very deep wisdom in that.

So I just wanted to pay honour and respects to all of you Elders, all of our Elders, but just listening to you Elders that have been speaking today at National Sorry Day because it’s such an important event for all peoples in Australia. So thank you. I’ve just been really enjoying it and just you and the uncles there that are sharing, just really, really beautiful, really solid and we can all learn from you all, thank you.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you Rachel.  Thank you for your thoughts.


Gold Coast audience member

Hi Aunty it’s Gale here from the Gold Coast Campus, if I could humbly follow on from Rachel. I’d like to pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging, and to let you know you’ve got around 25 people here up at the Gold Coast, who’ve been listening attentively to everything that yourself and thank you to the uncles who are there as well who’ve been sharing. And I just wanted to give people at the Gold Coast an opportunity if anybody has a comment or a question that they would like to share, with Coffs Harbour and Lismore.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you.

Gold Coast audience member

I’d like to make a comment. This is Shae, Auntie Elaine, up on the Gold Coast. I also want to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging and to also thank you very deeply for your sharing today. I feel very moved to be involved and very touched by the whole journey for all of you and all of us. And um, particularly wanted to honour you for being at Southern Cross University and doing your doctorate. I’m also a doctoral student and ah, feel very excited, for that journey for you, and I don’t know what that means for Indigenous people, that’s your story, but I’m feeling, I feel excited by that space opening up, by that, that space opening up more for Indigenous people. I don’t know if I’m saying that right, but anyway I’m very pleased and thank you for today.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you Gold Coast.

Gold Coast audience member

Thanks so much for today Aunty Elaine. I just want to say, I’d like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.  I’d just like to say that you are a living example, I guess, of the strength of this culture and this background and I think that is what every day we try to tell these kids, the next generation, the strength that’s behind them and the strength that the Elders show, and so you’re a great example of that. I feel very honoured to listen to you today, and I’d like to thank you for that. Cheers.

Aunty Elaine Turnbull

Thank you. Thank you. I just, just want to say too. It hasn’t been easy, you know, like, growing up without a mother and father naturally, to ah, to guide you the right way or right direction, but we are, we’re all in the one boat, as I said, just describe the, the sisters. And they were taken and stolen where they came from overseas, so, you know. I still go back to my younger brother. He’s still traumatised and I’ve tried to sort of sit down with him, but he refuses and, ah, again he refuses to have any family or kids for that very reason. That they’ll be taken away.

Troy Robinson

Thank you everybody up in Gold Coast and Lismore. We are getting to the end of the ceremony today. I’m sure youse have got some lunch up there or you might already have had some morning tea, but I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank everybody for being a part of it, of today’s ceremony. You know it is, it is a special day and if you get some time, try and watch the apology again, I think. And try and picture yourself, where you were at that time, how it made you feel. I can remember when I was, I actually watched that. And like Aunt said, she went down there You know I think it’s really special and if you get some extra time, on your YouTube at your offices or anything like that, please listen to Uncle Archie Roach – I’m trying to talk here. Sorry, my daughter’s running around silly here – try and get some extra time and listen to Uncle Archie Roach ‘Took your children away’. I think that always brings a tear to my eye. Especially when we’ve had uncle Archie here, and he actually shared his stories.

So thank you everybody up there, like I said, for your questions, for everything else, and most – most importantly thank you to Aunty Elaine Turnbull for being here. You know, I always see you, sort of around campus, and I don’t get to sit down with you much, but. No. No! I’m not the busy one, you the busy one! But, look, let’s start doing it on a general basis that we have you in here. Mob wanna come up, you know, we got free feed over in the  Gumbaynggirr Room there, youse can all come and have some devon sandwiches or something. So you know, we’d love to have you up here. And on that note, ah, with our Elders coming up here and with Uncle Larry’s passing, I am working towards, on campus, to getting Uncle Larry’s picture up here, put in the Gumbaynggirr Room, with a couple of other Elders as well as Uncle Harry Mumbulla, Aunty Bea Ballangarry is obviously not passed, she’s present and I would love to have a picture of Aunty Elaine, you know, here as well. That we could honour past, present and future elders in the Gumbaynggirr Room over there.

Oh, and then who’s sitting around the conference table are our future, obviously, so ah, that’s what I want to sort of honour over in the Gumbaynggirr room. So thank you once again for your story. Uncle Rod’s just gonna take the microphone off me here. But can I get our Elders that also spoke, just so youse can have a look up there of Uncle Martin, I’m sure he loves being on camera, and Uncle Porky. Now do youse want to come and sit down here please? Just so they can see ya? And Uncle Rod’s just gonna talk about next week.

Uncle Rod Williams

Okay thanks everyone. I’m a lecturer here, with Gnibi, Rod Williams, and here we are. Uncle Martin, Uncle Porky and Aunty Elaine, look I’d like to say it’s been a great event Aunt, and you know I think it’s important that these stories get told and I know you can’t see the Coffs Harbour crowd, but amongst our crowd we’ve got students from Jetty High, so, you know, we’ve got the young ones in here as well, that the teachers have taken their time to bring those students in, to listen to this story as well, so, you know I think these are the sort of events that Gnibi will continue to hold. And it’s all about the education process and allowing those people who experienced that to actually tell their own story. Not just the story that we read out of the books or the stories that lecturers like me might present. To actually hear it from the people themselves. And Uncle Porky was here on Saturday, engaging with students. And our deputy-mayor here, very prominent man, and Aunty Elaine who’s come up form Nambucca heads. Great event.

Troy Robinson

Yeah, like I said, so yeah, you’ll be fed. Yes bush tucker Uncle Martin. Thank you everybody, Aunty and Uncles a hand, eh, once again. Thank you.

And as we go out to get a feed, I’m just going to put on Uncle Archie Roach ‘Took your children away’ so please, please enjoy your day up there in Gold Coast, I’m sure you will, ‘cause it’s beautiful stunning weather, but we actually call it God’s country here too, so enjoy yourselves up there at Lismore. Absolutely amazing, thank you guys, appreciate it.

Yaari yarraang – means goodbye in our language. Yaari yarraang.