Valerie was taken to Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home at the age of 2 with her sisters Patricia and Rita. Her father came to visit her but the police took him away. She only remembers him from a distance and this is her only memory of him. She stayed at Bomaderry until she was 9 years old and then she was sent to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls. Upon arrival she met her other sisters Rita and Adelaide for the first time. They had little to do with each other as the Matrons separated them.
Valerie was sent to work for a former police officer who later owned the bakery in town at the age of 15. She was forced to milk cows and look after the baby. She remembers having no idea how to look after a baby. The police officer raped Valerie for watering down the milk. Fortunately, she was visited by a policeman to whom she told what had happened, and he returned her to Cootamundra Girls. She eventually ran away to Redfern and was then taken to Parramatta Girls Home where she attempted to commit suicide at the age of 18.
In 2002 Val was given her file held by the NSW Government, which contained reports from the police and welfare board regarding her abuse and rape. She sought legal representation from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, who took the case to the Victims of Crime Tribunal. Initially she wasn’t awarded any compensation, yet after appealing the decision, Valerie was the first member of the Stolen Generations to receive compensation for the crimes committed against her whilst being a ward of the state.
Adelaide was removed when she was 4 years old and taken straight to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls. Her first Matron was Mrs. Colthard followed by Mrs. Hiscock. Adelaide was whipped in a bathtub at the age of 13 years old and sustained injury and then the loss of her kidney aged 19. She served for one month at the Pickering Homestead
where she was abused and almost killed. Whilst there she ran away and was caught by a policeman known as ‘Constable’ (His name is known yet withheld as the crimes were not reported by the Matron of the Home, and to date no criminal charges have been laid, nor has a complaint been lodged with the Victims of Crime tribunal. The Constable is now deceased.) The ‘Constable’ exposed himself to her and tried to pay Adelaide 2 pounds to participate in sexual activity. She was lucky to escape. She moved to Rose Bay with the Watt family at the age of 15 where she was responsible for looking after Elizabeth Watt who was wheelchair bound. She met a man, Mr Remington, at the age of 24 and fell pregnant with their only son, Robert Wenberg. Their relationship didn’t last. She stayed with Elizabeth for 50 years in Rose Bay and was one of three people nominated in Elizabeth’s Will when she passed away. Adelaide now lives in Wollongong, NSW, on her own.
Adelaide was removed when she was 4 years old and taken straight to the Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls. Her first Matron was Mrs. Colthard followed by Mrs. Hiscock. Adelaide was whipped in a bathtub at the age of 13 years old and sustained injury and then the loss of her kidney aged 19. She served for one month at the Pickering Homestead where she was abused and almost killed. Whilst there she ran away and was caught by a policeman known as ‘Constable’ (His name is known yet withheld as the crimes were not reported by the Matron of the Home, and to date no criminal charges have been laid, nor has a complaint been lodged with the Victims of Crime tribunal. The Constable is now deceased.) The ‘Constable’ exposed himself to her and tried to pay Adelaide 2 pounds to participate in sexual activity. She was lucky to escape. She moved to Rose Bay with the Watt family at the age of 15 where she was responsible for looking after Elizabeth Watt who was wheelchair bound. She met a man, Mr Remington, at the age of 24 and fell pregnant with their only son, Robert Wenberg. Their relationship didn’t last. She stayed with Elizabeth for 50 years in Rose Bay and was one of three people nominated in Elizabeth’s Will when she passed away. Adelaide now lives in Wollongong, NSW, on her own.
Originally from Dubbo NSW, Violet moved to Peak Hill with her parents and siblings. Whilst visiting the police station with her parents, she remained outside with her siblings playing on the lawn. At the young age of five, the welfare board took her and her sister. Violet’s older brothers ran in to inform the parents resulting in her mother screaming and wailing. Shortly after being stolen, her mother fell ill and her father continued to work in Gilgandra mine to assist with supporting his wife and sons, but without her daughters, her mother died, Violet says it was due to a broken heart. Having to be independent from such a young age, Violet was defiant and stubborn, picking fights with other girls at Cootamundra and challenging the staff. She recalls bringing the strife upon herself due to being mischievous, resulting in having to scrub the bricks and cleaning whilst the others got to enjoy outdoor activities. She remembers being forced to learn to cook and clean, practicing a foreign religion and being integrated into the local public school in town where she attended without any shoes. She smiles and laughs whilst talking about her childhood as she is adamant that she didn’t conform and kept her identity, they may have taken her from her family, but they could not mold her into something she wasn’t.
Born in Brewarrina, NSW, 1953, Rita was removed from her family at the age of 2, and sent to Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls for processing, down to Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home, and later to Redacted mission, which was run by the Redacted family.
Working on the farm, Rita spent most of the day picking fruit that would later be sold by the family, as well as caring for the chickens, milking the cows, skimming the milk and whipping the butter. These duties were undertaken every morning – rain, hail or shine – and barefoot even in the winter. All the while she received neither payment nor education.
Rita was released from the mission at the age of 19 and was given no contact details or any information regarding her family. Lost, she lived on the streets and ‘couched surfed’ through Redfern. Here she felt her first sense of freedom, even when she was eating out of rubbish bins and sleeping in Victoria Park, as she was free from the authority and control of anyone else.
Director – Steven McGregor
Writer/director Steven McGregor was the only filmmaker to have a film competing for the Sydney Film Festival’s Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize in both 2012 and 2013.
Croker Island Exodus, written with Danielle MacLean, was a finalist in 2012 and is about the epic journey of a group of stolen generation children during World War II. Big Name No Blanket, written with Lisa Watts, made the cut in 2013 and is a portrait of the Warumpi Band’s charismatic front man George Rrurrambu. Both films also played in the Melbourne International Film Festival and in the FIFO Film Festival Tahiti. Big Name No Blanket won a Jury Prize at the 2014 FIFO Film Festival Tahiti.
Pretty Boy Blue, an episode Steven wrote for the drama series Redfern Now, won the AACTA Award for best screenplay in television in 2013 and in the following year another episode, Babe in Arms, was nominated in the same category. He wrote four episodes in all across the two ABC series. Steven also wrote the Redfern Now tele-movie, Promise Me, which screened to rave reviews. Promise Me was nominated for 7 AACTA Awards in 20015. Steven was also a writer on the Blackfella Films Joanne Werner Film Productions children’s TV drama series, Ready for This, which won the 2015 AACTA award for Best Children’s Drama in Television.
Steven started his career behind the camera and as an editor in the news department of Imparja Television. Apart from when he was studying for his MA in drama directing from the Australian Film, Television & Radio School, he has lived and worked in the Northern Territory all his life.
He had written and directed many documentaries and dramas before accepting an invitation to direct art + soul 2, his biggest project to date, which screened in July 2014 on the ABC. CAAMA Production’s Cold Turkey, written and directed by Steven, made for SBS TV centering on two brothers living in Alice Springs, was particularly successful, earning two AFI Award nominations and screening in local and overseas festivals.
Another project about two brothers, My Brother Vinnie, which he directed, got a lot of attention too. It won major awards at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Flickerfest and the St Kilda Film Festival; was nominated in the IF Awards and for a Logie; and screened at several festivals abroad. It examined the close relationship between actor Aaron Pedersen and his brother Vinnie, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Other recent titles written and directed by Steven include: popular festival title Tales from Daly and Intervention: Two Years On, both 30-minute documentaries for Imparja TV; the three-part series League of Their Own for ABC TV; and 5 Seasons for SBS and CBC Canada, which won the prize for best indigenous film at the Santa Fe Film Festival. A film he wrote for Warwick Thornton, Willigens Fitzroy for ABC TV, was highly commended at the Dendy Awards.
Producer / Writer – Mitchell Stanley
Training at the Actors Pulse – Meisner Method Acting, Mitchell graduated as in 2002 to pursue a career as an actor. Whilst being successful in small roles he worked in the finance industry in asset management where he gained a thorough understanding for business, accounting and legal affairs. Utilising his eight years of experience in the sector, he went on to manage the Acquisitions department for National Indigenous Television in between 2008 and 2010, where he wrote, produced and directed his first short film Aesop’s Way as a part of the Lester Bostock initiative with Screen NSW and Metro Screen. In the same funding round he produced The Biggest Port for Elizabeth Wymarra, where both films were accepted into the Shorts Film Festival in Adelaide for 2011.
Pursuing a career as a Producer, Mitchell went on to line produce the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s series “Move It Mob Style”, which was broadcast on NITV and ABC3. He had later completed a Producer Attachment with Screen NSW under the guidance of Tanya Chambers and Megan Simpson Huberman, where he gained invaluable insight to the current trends, market and Producers working in the field today.
Upon wrapping with Screen NSW he gone on to produce four series of Aboriginal art documentary show Colour Theory which has since received pick of the weeks in The Australian, The Herald and outstanding reviews in Melbourne’s The Age, Servant or Slave, and is currently developing feature documentaries and drama television series.
Co Producer / Co –Writer – Hetti Perkins
Hetti Perkins is a member of the Eastern Arrernte and Kalkadoon Aboriginal communities and currently resident curator at Bangarra Dance Theatre and the inaugural artistic director of Sydney’s Corroboree (festival scheduled for November 2013). She is the curatorial advisor to the City of Sydney on the Eora Journey: Recognition in the Public Domain. Until recently, Perkins was the senior curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, and has worked with Indigenous visual art for twenty five years. Major exhibitions presented at the gallery include “Half light: Portraits from Black Australia” (2008); “Crossing Country: The Alchemy of Western Arnhem Land Art” (2004); and “Papunya Tula: Genesis and Genius” for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Arts Festival. In 1997, she co-curated (with Brenda L. Croft) the exhibition “fluent,” to represent Australia at the 47th Venice Biennale. Also with Croft and Philippe Peltier, she co-curated the Australian Indigenous Art Commission for the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris (2006), a partnership with the Australia Council.
Perkins was an advisor to the 2008 Biennale of Sydney, a member of the International Selection Committee for the 2000 Biennale of Sydney, and on the Selection Panel for Australia’s representation at the 2003 Venice Biennale. In 2010, Perkins wrote and presented the national three part documentary series, art + soul, for ABC television, directed by Warwick Thornton, and is in pre-production on the second series. Hetti worked on the NITV documentary series Colour Theory (2013), presented by Richard Bell and directed by James Marshall. Until recently, Hetti was a member of the Public Art Advisory Panel of the City of Sydney and in 2011 co-wrote, with Julie Cracknell, the Eora Journey: International Review of Contemporary Interpretation Practice. Hetti was an agent for dOCUMENTA (13) 2012 managed the Collectors + Curators program for the 2012 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.
Hetti is chair of the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students and a trustee of the Michael Riley Foundation. She is a member of the Barangarro Arts & Cultural Panel; board member of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory; board member of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; and deputy chair of Ninti One, a not-for-profit company that builds opportunities for people in remote Australia through research application, expertise, and outreach.