VICTIMS of state-sponsored kidnapping, innocent children given to strangers as sex and work slaves, cruelly beaten, neglected if they were lucky and driven to madness and suicide, with survivors often scarred beyond being able to love, be loved or have children... These are the still-forgotten Australians, who still have not received any sort of apology from the Australian or Queensland governments.
Imbil’s Kerri Saint trembles with emotion as she recounts her experience of violent abuse, working in charcoal pits at Inala from the age of five, permanently injured from brutal beatings and still hurting right to her soul.
Her stories and those of many others are not set in the 19th Century, nor in famine-plagued Africa or Stalinist Russia but right here in sunny Queensland even into the 1980s.
While other young Australians went to parties, travelled the world and built their futures, kids like Kerri (and their mothers) suffered unspeakably beneath the surface of affluent and liberated Australia.
Working in those charcoal pits before and after school, rejected for being different and punished for not doing her homework, Kerri was told constantly how lucky she was, while left to the mercy of cruel and deranged adoptive parents — a violent alcoholic man and a woman with significant mental health issues.
Kerri Saint was told her mother, who gave her up in the 1960s, didn’t want her and was dead but when she went to get a death certificate, she found her mother still lives in Townsville and still grieves.
Kerri attributes her survival to the Seventh Day Adventist church, which introduced her to the love of a caring God, the first love she ever had.
Now at last, the horrifying scandal of Australia’s other stolen generation, the white kids stolen from unmarried mothers, is slowly coming to light.
Some of it flows from the apology given to the aboriginal stolen generation.
Indigenous leader Max Dulumunmun Harrison, an elder of the Yuin people, helped bring it out last November, when he wrote: “I applaud the Prime Minister’s apology to our mob, but what about the white stolen generation that suffered the same fate?
“I know many white people who went through the same pain. So why can’t this government do its healing again and apologise to the white stolen generation to bring closure to all this suffering?”
Now a social worker, Kerri has raised her own children and devotes her life to helping others, particularly through her organisation, White Australian Stolen Heritage, which has a website for anyone wanting to contact her.
She also thanks concerned politicians including Gympie’s David Gibson. But most of all she is grateful for the support of her best mate and fellow Gympie Region resident, Robyn Street.
All her agitation has now borne fruit with an upcoming Senate Inquiry, which has called for public submissions by February 28.
“I want people to know that this is possibly their only chance,” Kerri told The Gympie Times this week.
“No-one seems to know about it but they can make submissions, but it has to be soon.”
Anyone who wants to talk to her about making a submission can contact her on 54 845949.
Her story is partially echoed by that of Federal Labor MP Brett Raguse, who points out that many adopted children, including himself, have had good lives. But, as he told Parliament, something needs to be done for people like Kerri and all their mothers, including his own.
“My mother was 17 when I was born,” he told the House. “(She) was told she could take (her child) home. That was not to happen...
“A pillow was placed to her head to stop her seeing or understanding anything that was going on.
“She remembers my cries as I was taken down the hallway...she was told to go home and start a new life.
“That is the sort of profound loss that many of the forgotten Australians and migrants have also felt.”
Kerri has already accepted one apology for people suffering from forced adoptions — from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.
The hospital’s executive director of Women’s and Newborn Services, Prof Ian Jones, has apologised on behalf of the hospital for its treatment of young single mothers during and following their pregnancies in a scandal that runs from the 1920s right up to the 1980s.