Aunty Betty King (Dhaurtwurrong Kerrup Jmara Elder)

Indigenous Solidarity Gathering

Victoria, Australia. March 16-23 1997

 

Aunty Betty King (Dhaurtwurrong Kerrup Jmara Elder)

 

I'd like to welcome everybody here, all our brothers and sisters from overseas. I really feel that today there's a precedent that has been set here through a vision of two brothers of mine who work for Friends of the Earth and I'd like to name them, Anthony Amis and Canopy who made this possible.

I'd like to say just a little bit about myself, how I've been involved with the greenies on forest network issues and struggles against different companies. Just recently in Portland we stopped a McDonalds company setting up in Portland through one of our recent campaigns that I was involved in and I'm very proud of that and didn't want any of their greasy food. I've done quite a bit with Friends of the Earth and for many years now we've been side by side together as brothers and sisters and I'm very very proud about that.

I was one of the lost children as Sandra was talking about earlier, being taken away at a very early age. Separated from my mother and father in the forties. I was brought up in a home where we weren't told who your brother and sisters were. You had to find out for yourself. Eventually I found out who they were.

I must have been a fighter from the beginning, because I had heaps of not only Aboriginal children in the institution, with me there were white children as well. And they always used to come up to me and say "Betty, this one's picked on me, you've got to come down here and say something". So down I'd go. You weren't allowed to ask why in those days. I knew what I was going to cop, but I still had a go at them. They were very very cruel in the homes. And then eventually after the years rolled on, they sort of let me go, the government, they still wanted to keep me there, in other words they hadn't broken my spirit at that early age. Eventually they put me back into another institution, into another institution and finally, I burnt the last one down! At the age of 16 of course I ended up in Pentridge Jail

After that I came out and got myself a job at a hospital in Brunswick as a trainee nurse and then one day us girls were all down at this cafe having tea one evening and one of the girls said look at this big woman walking in here Betty, she's coming straight at you and I looked up and I knew who she was, it was Jane my sister who I hadn't seen in years. And I said "where's mum, where's dad?" She said "in Melbourne". So over to Melbourne we go. I'll never forget and I did the Irish Jig on Grandma's table. That's how I found my family and eventually found out other things, exactly where we came from. In the seventies I went back to live at Lake Condah Mission and found out all the history there. Just like going back all over again. All the years that I'd lost knowledge about my family. I'm very proud to be here. Thank you very much. I'd like to welcome my sister Donna from Stradbroke island.