Stolen Generation pain still remains

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Red dust swirling on the horizon was the signal for Winnie Larsen and her siblings to hide from the welfare officials speeding down the winding roads to take Aboriginal children.

The Albany woman grew up on land just outside of Ongerup with her family until she broke her leg in an unfortunate accident which forced her to have treatment away from home.

Speaking to the Albany Advertiser about her past, Ms Larsen said she contracted osteomyelitis after a bull kicked her in the leg when she was eight years old.

She was in hospital for four years.

“It only needed penicillin (but) when I went to hospital ... I went right away from the main hospital ... and all that was given to me was an aspirin,” she said.

“It was terrible, you were in the dark ... no light or nothing . ... you laid in pain.”

After finally receiving surgery at age 11, Ms Larsen was shipped to Perth as a 13-year-old to be educated at an orphanage.

However, it didn’t quite work out that way.

“After being there for nearly four years with no education, I was there for nothing,” she said.

“They had to let me go ... they had no excuse as to why they were keeping me there because I didn’t have education.”

After leaving the orphanage, Ms Larsen said she headed straight home.

“My sisters grew and they all looked different, and they all looked at me and said ‘she looks like a wadjila’ (white person),” she said

But Ms Larsen knows she was one of the lucky ones, and although she missed her family, she said she wasn’t mistreated.

“When I look at what they did to me, people should know, the Stolen Generation wasn’t a nice thing,” she said.

“I missed my family, there’s an ache all the time inside of you.

“You’re lost, and you feel lost ... I was missing my family and that’s a cruel thing to be lonely.”

Recalling the national apology by then-prime minister Kevin Rudd in 2008, Ms Larsen said not enough had been done.

“Kevin Rudd said ‘sorry’ but nothing’s carried on from there,” she said.

“It was lovely of Kevin Rudd to say ‘sorry’ because that was healing but I didn’t know what else he did from then on.”

The mother voiced her concerns about creating another Stolen Generation through the aim of child protection.

“There should be a way they can help the mother and the kids, because it’s a very sad thing when you have to be away from your own family because family is a very special thing in life,” she said.

“I don’t hold a grudge about it but the point is if they are going to keep doing this to kids — just taking them away — even if the mum has done wrong, try and sort that problem out (instead).

“Because they don’t know that hurt to be away from their family.”

But she said she has hope for the future.

“Today, they can do better.” she said.

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