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WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Mary Terszak holding a copy of her book Orphaned by the Colour of My Skin: A Stolen Generation Story.
Mary Terszak. Photo: Lannon Harley.

Sharing stories

Stories have now closed.

Right: Mary Terszak, whose story features in the exhibition, responded to her experiences of this time by writing a book, Orphaned by the Colour of My Skin: A Stolen Generation Story.

Responses received by the Museum

Unknown stories

September 2009

In 1946 I lived with my family at Bowraville NSW. Saturday afternoon a favourite pastime was a visit to the local picture theatre. The white kids would sit at the back in plush velvet seats, while the Aboriginal kids would be in the 2 front rows on hard seats. We would roll Jaffas down the aisles to them.

– Mrs Margaret Goode, ACT

As a white non Indigenous young Australian, I continue to be shocked and appalled by the stories of such hardship inflicted on Indigenous people. However, the strength of the people who have, and continue to fight for their rights, gives me a great deal of hope. Peace.

– Louise Brooks, ACT

All men/women are born equal.

– Anna Feman, NSW

I turned 21 not long after the 1967 Referendum, and was furious that my very first opportunity to vote would not be during that momentous campaign, but in some trivial State election. I wanted to be part of THAT history – changing event.

– Margot Harker, ACT

As an African/Australian I am amazed how long it has taken for all this to be brought out into the light. Nobody need feel ashamed – these things happened when the world was still blind and inept.

– Kevin Mitchell, Woden, ACT

I can still remember as a little girl of about 4 or 5 listening to my older sister arguing with my father in the lounge room at home as to why it was only fair that Aboriginal people should be able to vote. It must have been the Referendum they were discussing.

– Gabrielle Bence, VIC

I think more should be said about the European bastards who came here hunting the poor Aboriginals. It is a major part of Australian history and seems to be swept under the rug somewhat. People should know the awful truth of first white settlers.

– Peter Casey, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

It is hard to believe that in the 21st Century, we still have our Indigenous people treated as third class citizens. The fact they have worse health and shorter life expectancy than the rest of us should be a matter of shame. I don't know how we give these people a sense of belonging – I believe Australia could and should be the best place in the world – this won't happen until our Indigenous people are treated equally, in every respect.

– Kerry Nunan (aged 60), Wyoming, NSW

A must see for all Australians of all skin colour. We have already lost so much Aboriginal culture it's time to rebuild for the next 40,000 ++ years.

– Boaz, Harden, NSW

Stirred emotional memories.

– Anon

It's a delicate balancing act to allow Aboriginals to retain their culture and relationship to their land and become fully participating members of 21st Century Australia. We must do it but it will take a long time and there will be quite a few mistakes along the way. Tolerance and respect will be needed by all for all.

– John W Hamilton, ACT

I was born after the period represented and didn't know a lot of these stories. I didn't learn about them in school or from my parents. Who would've thought people couldn't sit together in a cinema in Australia? These stories have made me think about our past a bit differently, some of them are sad but at the same time I am glad that some things have got better. I never thought that ordinary people could bring about such huge social and political change. I really like the story about Anthony Martin Fernando, I'd never heard of him. I'm going to find out more.

– Anonymous, ACT

For me the 1960s was a time when I met white Australians who understood that difference didn't mean lesser and were willing to discuss with other white people about what equality for All Australian citizens actually meant.

– Railene, QLD

Growing up in middle class home Australia in the 1960s, I recall going to Primary school with some Aboriginal children who were fostered. I wondered then how it must have felt being in that situation, but I knew very little about the circumstances which led to the fostering of Aboriginal kids. Through the efforts of those people who struggled to get recognition, I know a lot more and my own child is able to learn about these things at school.

– Peter, ACT

I remember in the 1970s as a young woman the first time I realized that white people weren't better than me. And more importantly, they were no longer the boss of me either - that was the best day.

– Joy, QLD

I first visited Australia in the late 1970s. Coming from a big, multicultural city I was shocked at how homogenous and 'white' Canberra society appeared to be. When I tried to find out about Aboriginal culture, there seemed to be only tourist nick-knacks to see. I asked many people but they seemed surprised that I was interested, saying that I'd have to go to the Territory to meet any Aboriginal people. How could Australians be so dismissive of this part of their society?'

– Agnes, ACT

I am glad that there is a real showing that black and white people worked together for a better future for all Australians in a real way, not a TV commercial/ marketing prepacked national pride kind of way.

– Lorraine, SA

A lot has changed in the last 70 or so years for Indigenous Australians, but still much of the discrimination and racism remains. It worries and embarrasses me that I can't foresee a time in my lifetime when Indigenous Australians will truly be socially and legally equal with the rest of Australians.

– Name withheld by request, ACT

Wow! I love this exhibition. It's good to know this history is being presented in a national forum. I used to argue with my history teacher when I was in high school (1980s) about the type of history being taught to me about my people. I was taught I was part of one group of Australian Aborigines (a homogenous group not of a nation representing my mob's part of this big country) and that I and my family were dying out or assimilated - not to my mind or my family's. It was awful putting up with this attitude. What's worse is that it was only when other whitefellas stand and say the same as me did anyone else listen, pay attention and change the way they were speaking to me and think about what it was they were 'saying' to me.

– Sue, SA

I find this story quite shocking - not only because of the injustice but because of the way non-Aboriginal people accepted it - 'That's the way things are here'. Makes me wonder what other injustices we are equally as blind to in our society now.

– Jillian Read, ACT

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