About Me & Native Seeds
Finding Inspiration in Every Turn
The inspiration drawn for the work undertaken at Native Seeds, and indeed for the creation of Native Seeds itself, is found through every turn of my own personal Journey of Healing as an Aboriginal child growing up in care. Inspiration and motivation additionally come from nearly 30 years working in both the community sector and the statutory child protection industry within the ACT & NSW and through my various roles, including in Aboriginal Kinship, as an Aboriginal Family Researcher undertaking family finding for Aboriginal children placed in out of home care and as an Aboriginal Family Group Conference facilitator, each have significantly added to and moulded the concept of Native Seeds.
Childhood trauma does not define a survivor. Individuals who have survived removal from their families of origin and from their wider communities, have had their connections, relationships and attachments severed from some of the most significant people in their lives. The very core of healing and wellbeing is in both identifying and then strengthening, and in many cases, reconnecting individuals to their Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures.
The journey of healing is a story about reconnecting the past to the present so it can in turn can be connected to the future. For this to happen though, one must know who they are and where they fit along that journey. All the small, but no less significant stories fit into a much larger picture. They are the brush strokes in a massive painting that was started at the very least, 60,000 years ago by our ancestors. But the line of continuity was severely damaged, in many cases completely severed by the devastating impacts of colonisation. There are now numerous people, both children and adults who have no awareness of how and where their own stories fit into that bigger narrative. Genealogy and undertaking reconnection work is at the very core of giving back some of what has been lost. It is about discovering that your story is not a stand-alone volume but belongs to an entire library.
'The essence of trauma is a disconnect from self, therefore the essence of healing is not just uncovering one's past, but reconnecting with oneself in the present' - Gabor Maté
My Family Story...
I specialise in Australian Aboriginal Genealogy, Family Research and Finding Kin and have over 30 years experience in tracing Aboriginal heritages, family lines, trees and kin connections.
I am an Aboriginal woman from the Dhungutti Nation of the mid north coast of NSW. My mother Laurel, along with her 7 brothers and sole living sister, were all removed from the care of their mum Agnes while living on Burnt Bridge Mission during the 1940s, 50s & 60s. Depending on the ages and genders of the children, they were placed in to one or more of the state or church run Aboriginal institutions.
Bomaderry Aboriginal Babies Home near Nowra was operated by the United Aborigines Mission, a home for children aged under 10 years of age, three of my uncles were placed in Bomaderry.
Cootamundra Girls Training Home was a disused hospital building (morgue and all) and established by the Aborigines Protection Board in 1911, my mother Laurel was an inmate there from 1953 to 1962.
Kinchela Boys Training Home was built in 1923 by the Aborigines Protection Board and operated under both the Aborigines Welfare Board and Child Welfare Department. It eventually closed in 1970. Four of my uncles were placed into Kinchela, all entered through the Kinchela Boys Home gates known by their christian names, but from that point until they left care, all were known only as a number.
Each of these institutions were fundamental to the removal of Aboriginal children in NSW. The girls at Cootamundra were trained as domestic servants, the boys at Kinchela, as farm hands, all were eventually assigned to wealthy non-Aboriginal households, farms and businesses. The babies in Bomaderry, once reaching the age of 10, ‘graduated’ from the only home and caretakers they knew or had memory of, were boarded onto trains and sent to either Coota or Kinchela, and in most cases travelled unaccompanied to places they did not know, arriving at the train station at their destinations to be greeted by the Matron or Manger of the Homes. In some cases, the children were reunited with siblings they had little to no memory of.
My mother along with her brothers were removed not only from their homes on Burnt Bridge Mission and from their homelands of the Dhungutti People, but they were stolen from their mother, (my grandmother), and from their aunties & uncles & from their cousins. More unforgivably, they were stolen from each other and robbed of their childhoods. Many were not seen again until they exited these institutions at the age 18 yrs. At which time they were granted a small amount of freedom, if you can call applying to the Aborigines Welfare Board for permission to leave their assigned places of employment and lodgings, freedom!
My mother and her brothers were all subjected to systematic racial discrimination designed to remove their Aboriginal identities and alienate them from the core of their beings. For me and my siblings and for all my cousins...and for all our own children and grandchildren, the disconnections and traumas continue to run deep. The story of destruction did not stop with our parents’ generation, just as it did not start with them!
They all, in one way or another, eventually come home. Not to some massive homecoming ceremony, but to a mother who was broken, whose soul was shattered longing for her kids, and filling the gaps in her heart with unhealthy relationships and men.
My mother and her siblings never escaped the enduring, painful and destructive effects of the traumas associated with their removals. My mother and her brothers were all members of the Stolen Generations! They were all stolen babies.
One small leap to the next generation, my generation! We were kids born in the 1960’s, 70’s & 80’s. My mothers’ babies, 6 of us, 9 if you count the babies, she never come home from the delivery ward with. We were all removed in one capacity or another, some fostered, some adopted, some lost and some just, dead! I cannot speak for my siblings, because while I now know them, I do not…know them. For me, my journey was one of removal. In my Aboriginal family, a second wave of stolen! I was removed at the age of 7 weeks, charged with neglect at Tamworth Court House, made a State Ward for the next 18 years. That day 14 March 1968, accompanied by a Welfare Officer from the Department of Child Welfare and taken to Myee Babies Home in Arncliffe, Sydney. Myee was run by the Child Welfare Department, it was a home for babies and up to 16 young unmarried expectant mothers, all of whom had been committed by the Children's Court to state care. At three months of age, I was placed into a non-Aboriginal foster home in Leura, in the Blue Mountains. A good family and a place I came to know as ’home’. The family consisting of three of the foster carers own birth children, another older Aboriginal girl, another stolen gen from Dubbo/Peak Hill, and a revolving door of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal foster kids, coming and going through the years.
But for my mother Laurel, the trauma, oh my gawd, the multiple traumas of more and more loss, was too great on her heart and soul to bare…she died alone of a massive heart attack at the age of 42. One year after I was 'discharged' from Wardship. She too, just like her mother Agnes, my grandmother, tried to fill the gaping holes in her spirit, not just men, but with drugs and alcohol. I do not know what would have, could have healed her brokenness here in this mortal realm, but I do know and believe, that upon her passing from this world to the next, our Great and Mighty Creator Spirit, Biame, The Great ‘I AM’, brought her home so he could grab hold of her, love her and heal her. I know she is once again whole and her heart and soul are healed.
For me, it is a love hate relationship with her, I met Laurel in life only 3 times, she is my connection to my Aboriginality, to my 60,000-year life story. I love her with all my heart, and she is never far from my mind, but at the same time, I am angry at her, because she was not here when I needed her…and I need her!
The biggest component of the Journey or Healing and Journey of Reconnection is they both have to stand upon a foundation of Forgiveness. ...And that my dear brothers and sisters, is the crux of it all!
There is a saying, that a person experiences two deaths - The first death is when they stop breathing, the second, when their name is spoken for the last time...
...Native Seeds and the work it undertakes is dedicated to the lives & memories of my mother, Laurel Doyle 1944-1987, my grandmother,
Agnes Jane Gray 1917 -1977, my Great Grandmother, Louisa Douglas 1897-1922, my Great Great Grandmother
Lily Drew 1865- and my Great Great Great Grandparents, Jane Doyle 1845-1936 and her life partner, Fred 'Hasty' Drew 1850-1919.