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Anna Michelle's story

Anna came to the Royal Commission because she wants to help put an end to the cycle of abuse and state intervention that affects Aboriginal families. Anna experienced this cycle first hand.

In the late 1970s she was taken from her mother and sent to a Uniting Church children’s home in Western Australia. She spent several years in the home, then went back to her mother, then back to the home again.

Anna was sexually abused at the home. She was also emotionally abused. Staff told her ‘If I didn’t behave I wasn’t going to heaven. My parents didn’t want me back. I was worthless’. In time Anna started to self-harm and threaten suicide. ‘I became very violent, not towards other people, just to myself.’

In a desperate attempt to avoid being sent back to the home again, Anna deliberately got pregnant at 15. Anna’s partner was violent so she left him, only to start a new relationship with another violent man. It took her many years to escape.

During this time Anna was dogged by horrible memories. ‘Things haunt me all the time in the back of my head … I always sleep with the light on.’

Despite these troubles, she worked hard to provide for her children and keep them safe. But she couldn’t always be there to look out for them. When her daughter was 15, Anna did a short stint in jail.

‘And I came out and get told my daughter’s been sexually abused by the carer that they put in charge of my kids.’

Determined to save her daughter from further pain, Anna worked with her to bring the perpetrator to justice. He was convicted and sent to jail. Then, as soon as Anna’s daughter was old enough, Anna sent her away.

‘So that she could have a life. So that these memories wouldn’t come back and haunt her too. Otherwise she’ll end up like me, living in Western Australia, looking over her shoulders.’

Anna’s daughter is now doing well, as are almost all of her kids. ‘I can’t believe how beautiful they turned out’, she said. The exception is her youngest, who is currently in state care.

‘They done the damage to my daughter and now they’ve still got my son. They’re still doing the damage. My son doesn’t feel safe. He wants to come home.’

For a long time now, Anna has been trying to get the welfare department to give her son back.

‘I just get told I’m no good. I ring the … office, they just hang up on me. They just make me angrier. They just tell me that I’m wasting my breath, I’m wasting my time, and just keep hanging up on me.’

Anna has custody of her son for a short while every school holidays. She said that she can see the anger building up inside him and she’s worried about where it will lead. She wishes that the department would listen to him when he says that he wants to come back home. She wishes the department would listen to all the kids in its care.

‘There’s no kid wants to be taken. And I know they say to everyone “It’s only for the best” but some of these kids know that their mums and dads can be horrible, but at the end of the day their mum and dad love them, and they love them, and they won’t let the harm come to them … All I’m asking is that someone stop and listen to their little voices.’

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