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STANDING COMMITTEE ON COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
06/04/2009
Implementation of the recommendations of the Lost Innocents and Forgotten Australians reports

CHAIR —We have an opportunity now, for about 10 minutes before we have to wind up the hearing this afternoon, for people who would like to put a statement on the record.

Ms Tronc —I would like to make a statement about my time in care. I had difficulty in putting my experience on paper personally, and I presented earlier as a member with HAN. My time in the orphanage—I do not know if I am allowed to say the name of the home—was from the age of 18 months. I was a private inmate. There were a lot of people who were private inmates from the word go. That is an issue I have since spoken to other people about, and whether they were covered by Redress as well. I was under that private care until my father died, when I was seven. He died in South Australia. I was put out to foster care from around the age of two to a family which I knew, and they fought for me, which shows in my FOI files, for over 10 years. Throughout that time they were the only parents I knew as Mum and Dad. I was an only child. I even took their name whilst in care, when I was released from the orphanage at 14½ years of age. I went to school, and I also started work there, so I was in the taxation system under their name as well. They died, sadly, a couple of years ago. I was abused whilst I was in foster care, throughout the school holiday period, going from the home to their place, by family members. Also, when I came out of the home, I was abused by the same person later on in life.

When my foster family had all died, I lost everything through the process of the so-called pending adoption. The adoption stamp for all proceedings to be forwarded was on my files. Then I found out when she died that that did not take place. Sadly, that meant more trauma and grief in that period of loss. I had to go to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the city and found that it had not been changed on my birth certificate and therefore had no legal grounding. Throughout that period of time I was battling suicidal thoughts in and out and depression severely, and I got very little help in the services because they were so congested. I found that very difficult, but thankfully Sue Treweek and a couple of close friends helped me through those times.

I spoke earlier about the difficulty with our own children and with trying to get through this when we are so damaged and also about trying to keep our children out of DOCS after we have been through. I feel very disappointed with the FOI system and the government. A lot of our files are blacked out. I lost my real mother and father when I was very young, and I did not get to spend that much time at all with my real family that I can recall. I feel that now is the time to lift the blackness and to give me the truth about my life now that both parents on each side have deceased. I would like my next of kin to have those rights and the blackness lifted on my files.

CHAIR —That is with the FOI system, so we will check with the department.

Ms Tronc —Thank you. The most important area where I feel it has affected me is that the people who harmed me and hurt me have inherited everything from me. Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you. I now welcome Marlene Wilson.

Ms Wilson —As a child my name was Marlene Josephine Morwood. You were asking earlier how the government advertising went. I personally got Redress forms and contacted all my family—the ones I could contact—so much so that I helped my father in New South Wales get a payment, even though my father was part of my abuse the system, although he also was abused in Westbrook. So I will write a formal letter regarding the recommendations.

I just want to make a short statement. It is not just me or others like me who have had problems. My children and their children are all suffering, and I suffered because of my father’s abuse in care. I was penalised an extra year—I was not released till I was 19, not 18. Everybody has said 18, but I was not released at 18 because I was a naughty girl—I got pregnant to a man I thought I loved. I do not know why that happened to me. I know that I was starving and I lived in abuse, but we had no help, no guidance. I grew up bringing up my children fearful that the government were going to take them off me.

The freedom of information with this redress has messed me up so much. I hid a lot of my things, like people said earlier. I filed them away to get on with my life and to have a semi-normal life, and the redress is just another kick in the teeth. It was a pittance, and for $7,000 having to sign to say I would never ever take the government to court shows me I am still not worth very much and the government does not think very much of me to this very day. I am terrified of getting my second payment because I do not think I am going to get very much. Just because I am not under psychiatric care and those kinds of things does not mean I do not suffer and my family have not suffered.

I came forward when you guys came up last time, and shared. I have family who suffered in care, but they were not institutionalised, and they are really suffering today, I think, more than me—possibly not, but I feel that way. I just wanted to share with this committee that it is ongoing. Getting a few dollars thrown your way and an apology does not mean it stops. It does not. It keeps going, from generation to generation. It is an ongoing need. Thank you.

CHAIR —Thank you, Marlene. Lana, do you want to add something? We have a couple of minutes.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —Yes, I will.

CHAIR —I am presuming the department does not want to add anything? No. Lana.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —I have just given that gentleman over there, the pretty little one next to you, a little note.

CHAIR —All right.

Mrs Syed-Waasdorp —It is about why we need funding for the Esther Centre, the Forde Foundation and the Historical Abuse Network. As we say, we have thousands of people like that gentleman Wayne Bradwell earlier. We need finance to help people and we need—actually, I need that note back; sorry, I do forget at times. Thank you. This note is about the evidence from Mr Bradwell also. He stated that he was not able to get sufficient help from the Esther Centre, ARC or the Forde Foundation due to the fact that the centres had limited financial and other resources. That is why we need to have much more funding, maybe a boost of up to $1 million, for example—which would go statewide, of course, all over Queensland, to Brisbane and everywhere—from the federal government. I believe that the federal government really does care about us and, in time, about their state wards, I am sure. For people like Mr Bradwell, and there are thousands more like him, please help the Esther Centre, ARC and the Forde Foundation with more funding and the resources that we desperately need, because we are growing and we are growing very big. I believe that you and the Queensland government will be the first to take action to help the families through—what was that word I told you before?—rehabilitation, granting the families the resolution to do it. Anyhow, that is all I said here in this note. I also thank you all for letting us come up and have a little chatter. Thank you to the Senate for having us all.

CHAIR —Thank you. Ms Syed-Waasdorp.

Ms Ekeberg —I do not know how to do this. We were taken from my adopted father, me and my sister—I cannot do this—when our adopted mum died. We were dumped into the government system, brought up by the government. Anyhow, after all the abuse and stuff, and I just cannot go into it too much, I got out of care. I have never had a job. I would not even know how to hold one down if I tried. The thing is I have got nine children; I was married young. I left my ex-husband because he was abusive. I gave him custody of three. I was pregnant when I left; I did not realise I was pregnant. And I had the other kids. Two of my kids I put in care, because I just could not cope—they had really bad behaviour problems and stuff like that. I did not know how to cope.

I never had much of a problem with the department until the Caboolture office, when I put two others in, actually lied, to tell you the honest truth. My last one is currently in the care of the department, and they do not care. He went from birth, and he has cancer now. The department would not listen to me when I said he was sick, even though he was in their care. Through a solicitor, I finally got a second opinion and we found out that that is happening. I went to court. Esther came with me through all that. Legal Aid pulled out. It was not so long ago—a couple of weeks ago. They more or less got what they wanted, but I am hoping to revoke the order next year. Two of my kids have been sexually abused in the care of the department, and nothing ever got done about that, and I did not have the guts to speak up. I cannot do any more.

CHAIR —Thank you for sharing that with us. It is very tough.

Ms Ekeberg —But the department just does not care. They say more or less that because I was brought up by the department I cannot rear kids. I have to go.

CHAIR —Thank you.

A song was then performed by Ms Jacinta Burr—

Committee adjourned at 3.57 pm