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Jasmine's story

Jasmine became a Queensland state ward shortly after her birth. For a short time she stayed with her father until she was moved to live with someone under an informal care arrangement. From there she was shifted between different places before being placed in a Church of England orphanage. Here she was sexually abused from the age of five by someone who was a member of the clergy.

Throughout her early life, Lilian, the wife of Jasmine’s father intervened numerous times to remove Jasmine from unsafe homes. She also took her out of the orphanage after finding her in a neglected state and brought her to her own home, however Jasmine’s father said she couldn’t stay.

Over a period of years, staff from Queensland Police and various government and welfare agencies became involved in Jasmine’s life. They were often abusive, Jasmine said, and no one seemed to have her well-being as their concern. She described the abuse as extending to verbal and physical assaults.

When Jasmine applied as an adult for her welfare records, it took a long time for them to be found. There were further delays in getting them released by the Queensland government department and when finally issued, all records had been heavily redacted.

‘After 37 years, the file they released to me was, in a nutshell, an incomplete file where they’ve essentially blanked out personal details about myself’, Jasmine said. ‘Details in relation to my birth mother, they’ve blanked those details out. Details in relation to any siblings of mine, they’ve blanked those details out.’

The records were important, Jasmine said, because they pointed to the way in which her family had been separated and isolated from one another. Her mother had been labelled ‘unfit’ and had five children removed from her care.

‘She went to welfare organisations for help to raise her kids because she was an unwed mum. She couldn’t get help from the fathers of any of the children so she naturally went to the welfare organisations to try to get some assistance. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to help her. They in fact, chose instead as pretty much all of us kids were born … under the 1965 Child Protection Act of Queensland [they] deemed each and every one of us an illegal birth.’

Part of Lilian’s advocacy had involved trying to find a school for Jasmine at different times, but she’d run into obstacles because she wasn’t Jasmine’s guardian. Jasmine had also had her name changed several times and didn’t have a birth certificate.

‘It’s important to know I have an intersex defect which is both male and female’, Jasmine said. ‘I remember the institution giving me a lot of pills to try and conform me to a specific gender and I remember being very sick. The ongoing battle that Lilian had that I continue to experience today is essentially she had difficulty in terms of proving who I was with no identity papers for me. It made it virtually impossible, like essentially I was literally treated as though I didn’t exist on the system in any way, shape or form.’

At school, Jasmine had become interested in human rights issues and she remained an outspoken promoter for social justice concerns. She said this had resulted in harassment from numerous quarters, including police officers in many states of Australia. Debts incurred from unpaid traffic and driving infringements had reached high levels and precluded her from getting a driver’s licence.

‘At the end of the day the thing that I want stopped especially from the police is, I fought long and hard to break free from state intervention in my life. I want them to stop interfering in my life. I want to not be silenced about this any longer … if I want to talk about it, then let me. Likewise any of my people who come along and support me, I don’t want them to be stopped.’

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