NAIDOC Week service at Christ Church Cathedral

HEARTFELT: Aunty Brenda Mathews speaking to the NAIDOC Week service on Sunday. Picture: Louise Mackay/Anglican Newcastle
HEARTFELT: Aunty Brenda Mathews speaking to the NAIDOC Week service on Sunday. Picture: Louise Mackay/Anglican Newcastle

A CATHEDRAL congregation sat in silence on Sunday as a Newcastle-born member of the stolen generation told her story during an ecumenical NAIDOC Week service.

About 150 people attended the service, which heard Aunty Brenda Mathews, born in Newcastle in 1970, tell how “the welfare” came and took her and her siblings when their family was living near Gilgandra in western NSW in 1973.

Despite her parents going to court to get their seven children back, they were sent to a home and then fostered out.

“I formed a bond and relationship with their daughter, who I thought was my real sister,” Aunty Brenda said.

“I didn’t see colour until I noticed my new little brother’s baby skin. It was only then I was told they were not my real family.”

Aunty Brenda said she was put back with her birth family after almost five years “without any proper transition”.

“I was so torn between my black family and my white family,” Aunty Brenda said.

“Between 1909 and 1969 it was the Assimilation policy. This is what they call the Stolen Generation. I was removed in 1973 and brought back in 1977. The Act changed but the action didn’t.

“I’m not classified as wrongly taken or having trauma, so who am I?

“I hope you will understand that brutal painful fact of our history from the absolute credibility of my story.”

The service involving the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches was led by Anglican Reverend Di Langham and began with a smoking ceremony and a dance performance from Lake Macquarie. NAIDOC Week activities continue.

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