This week we proudly celebrate NAIDOC week. This year’s theme celebrates the essential role that women have played – and continue to play – as active and significant role models at the community, local, state and national levels. Parkerville Children and Youth Care are taking part in the celebrations throughout the Perth Metro region. Our Aboriginal Practice Leader Tony Hansen has kindly told his story as part of the Stolen Generation, losing his mother shortly after reunifying with her and the fantastic work he continues to do for children in care and the wider Aboriginal community
I, Tony Hansen am a member of the Stolen Generation, I was forcibly removed from my mother and grandparents care at the age of three; I was then placed into a mission settlement near Katanning, in the Great Southern where I lived for the next 15 years of my life. During the 15 years in care, I never had any contact with my mother, grandparents and extended family. Life for me changed forever. Living in an environment that was strange to me and living with children that I didn’t know, but came to know over the years. These children became my family, I reflect on them and speak openly about this family; many of them aren’t my blood relations, but they have a special connection with me. I always state that I have three kind of families, the mission children; then my mothers family and then my fathers family.
When I was nearly 17 years old, I had, for the first time, the opportunity to meet my mother. By this time my grandfather had died; I was pleased and excited to know that my grandmother was still alive. Meeting my mother, grandmother and extended family for the first time, was very difficult. I felt like a stranger meeting my family again, after all these years of being separated from my mother, grandmother and the extended family. As I reflect I remember the family just touching me, looking into my eyes and most probably couldn’t believe that I am home with them after all these years.
I continued to have further contact with my family, even after this first time. I came back to ensure that I could have as much opportunity of visiting my family, getting to know them and listen to their stories, look at family photos and reflect on my grandfather. I enjoyed a short part of my life with my mother, until she died at the age of 50 years old. I always reflect and think to myself, that I only had a short window of opportunity to catch up on all the years that I had missed out, from being separated from my mother. The day my mother died, my heart was broken forever, those precious memories and moments where gone from me; it still makes me upset today, when I reflect back down memory lane about my mother.
Since my mothers death, I have continued to fight to good fight, as my mother would want me to do. I have worked in Government for the last 28 years of my life, working in the WA Police Force, Department for Child Protection and now Parkerville Children & Youth Care. During my professional career I have worked in the mining industry and the City of Stirling. Today, I am a volunteer working for Bringing Them Home, Yokai, Western Australia Stolen Generation Alliances and on the National Reference Committee Board for the Stolen Generation people of Australia, in partnership with the Healing Foundation in Canberra.
I am the Aboriginal Practice Leader at Parkerville Children and Youth Care today, working in the Out Of Home Care area, ensuring that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care, continue to stay connected with their culture and their family; ensuring that staff at Parkerville have culture knowledge and understanding while caring for the children.
NAIDOC is a special time and a great opportunity to celebrate my culture, ensuring that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is celebrated right throughout Country; our ancestor have fought hard for us, to have the great opportunities we have today and we must ensure that we share our history and culture with everyone.
Armadale NAIDOC celebrations. AFSN provided free playdough in the Aboriginal colours for children to take away with them, and also donuts with Aboriginal coloured icing. Also two large baskets of toys and games were raffled.
In the photo is Keita van de Weteringh.