‘[This is] my Mum’s story.
‘She was one of the Stolen Generation. She was stolen when she was round … about nine, 10, she was taken away from her mother. She was put into orphanages [in] Adelaide and regional South Australia [in the 1950s].
‘In those places, most of the children there, my mother wasn’t the only one [who] was molested and raped and physically abused by the nuns and people who looked after them.
‘One day my mother just asked a question about her period and she was bashed by the nuns, just asking a personal question.’
Paula’s mother was fostered out to a white family who lived on a farm. A man who was working on the farm sexually assaulted her.
‘She had to go up and milk the cows every morning … The bloke would wait for her and rape her every day. She told the nuns about it, they put her in a mental institution … for an amount of years.
‘The government thought that they were doing Aboriginal people a favour. But to me it seems like my mum, being a Stolen Generation child, has affected me and not only affected me, it has affected my children as well and my sister’s children.
‘Our mum … couldn’t really care for us. I was placed in foster care … From nought to five years old I was placed into foster care. And then, when I was 11 years old I got kicked out of home [by mum] and I had to live.
‘That sense of mother [and daughter] … it was only until I was 24, 25, 26 that I found out why my mother was like that … She told me her life story … I grew closer to her then.
‘There was nine of us in our family and my mother fostered us all out … but I couldn’t understand why my mother was the way she was until she told me her story. And then I just felt for her. Especially being raped and being put in a mental institution. That is so wrong.
‘I’ve been in mental institutions myself and been drugged up and … I can just imagine what they’d be doing to my mother just to shut her up.’
Paula came to the Royal Commission to tell her mother’s story.
‘It’s just my mum … I felt sorry for her … I wanted her to do [the SA Commission of] Inquiry … I just wanted her to tell her story to him [SA Commissioner] because she told it to me and I thought, “Why don’t you tell it to him?” That might help …
‘But she just didn’t feel – she couldn’t … relive it again … even though she was living it every day anyway … She got help in different areas.’
‘Some of the things that we had to go through with our mother … we didn’t understand our mother [and that] some of the things that she done to us was because of the nuns, the way the nuns treated her. I find that really hard to deal with sometimes.’
Paula’s brothers and sisters don’t know all of their mother’s story.
‘They only know bits and pieces because my mother wouldn’t let me … tell her story. But I tried to get them to understand why she was like that. I tried to make them understand but it was pretty hard. Because … most of us when we were younger, we were cut off by our mother … From when we were 11, 12, 13, 14 we had to make our own lives.’
Paula’s mother passed away a number of years ago. To help her and her siblings, Paula is going to seek support from Link Up to access her mother’s welfare records.
‘There was a lot of anger inside of her and a lot of hurt … It affected our mother and then it affected us.’