Carole was a ‘baby in arms’ when her mum passed away. She and her older brother were looked after by her maternal grandmother, who Carole called Mummy. Her dad was a hard-working man who held down two jobs, so they would see him on weekends.
When Carole first started school she was supposed to meet her brother afterwards, and was waiting for him in the afternoon.
‘None of the kids came out. Most of them were stolen ... No brother to take me home. So the headmaster had to ring the police to come and take me home.’
Some years later Carole’s father died, and her grandmother was hospitalised. After this, Carole lived in various residential facilities across New South Wales.
In the early 1960s, when she was around 10 years old, Carole was placed in a Methodist children’s home in a regional town. She would run away to visit her family, and on one occasion was sexually abused by her half-brother Gary.
Back at the children’s home she disclosed the abuse to her carers. They physically punished her for saying such things, and locked her in a broom cupboard. Another carer locked her in the press when she spoke about what Gary had done.
When Carole left the home at 16 she went onto the streets, where she met two men who gave her somewhere to live. Eventually she got married and had children, but her husband left.
Carole was not given much education so has troubles with reading and writing. Her experiences of being locked up in dark places mean that she still gets very scared and needs to always have a light on. Doing artwork and knitting gives her a lot of enjoyment, as do her pets.
A few years ago, Carole met up with her brother for the first time since they were separated. ‘I was a bit scared. He was a bit nervous. Then we started talking.’