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  • Jana

Early Life... Part 3

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

My father was on the run for 4 days and handed himself in to the Womans Police Station in Fitzroy in 1971.

My sister and I stayed with a police officer overnight and then we were taken to County Court. I saw a man wearing a sheep's hat and he told us that we are now Victorian Ward of State. We no longer had a family and we belong to the Government.

That same day, we ended up at Alambie Reception Centre for children to be Institutionalised. There were 90 beds and over 200 children. Thirty children would enter the centre each week. Some never survived the first week. Kids screaming, bullying, showing signs of unhealthy social behaviour.

We were sprayed for nits, ticks, checked thoroughly for all manner of diseases. Hair was cut and we wore a grey uniform and sent to the local chapel to pray four times a day. I did not understand one word of English. I spoke to my sister in a foreign language and no one knew what we were saying. I met up with a psychologist and he assessed me for sexual behaviour, my mood, intelligent had deemed me as quiet intelligent. My collar bone and ribs were showing and I was thin as a broom handle.

Nuns taught me a little English and when it came to play time I was often seen at the far end of the play area sitting on a bench by myself for most of the time.

A nun would sit beside me and sing the following song.

Two little dickie birds sitting on the wall

One name Peter and one name Paul

Fly away Peter, Fly away Paul

Come back Peter, come back Paul.

I dreamt of living in a white big house and often thought about climbing the fence.

I was lonely, scared and no longer wanted to live. I hated living in this place. Everyone was fighting, there was death everywhere. Nuns could not control us and there was not enough staff to look after everyone.

Often we had trips to the clinic room. We would strip down to our underpants and singlet and march into the room to be given needles. My sister and others went into the room more often than myself.

I was feeling weak as the months progressed.

My sister was in the playground swinging on a swing. I stood under the veranduh watching her. She was laughing. I couldn't quiet understand why she would laugh in a miserable place like this. Does she not ever think about leaving this place. Is she aware what is going to happen to us. We can't stay here forever. We have to move on to an orphanage or another home. Allambie is a holding centre for children for a short period until children are transferred to an orphanage for permanent stay.

My right leg started to wobble and I felt my body swaying and I collapsed. I lay on the floor for sometime until a kid kicked my back and I was forced to stand up. Hot flushes and tingly sensation filled my right leg. I was in tremendous pain. I could barely stand up but I had to otherwise the kids would bash me and call me names. I tried to sit down but this only caused me more pain so I would wobble around the yard and corridor for hours. My face became pale and I started to lose more weight. Some days later, I could barely hold myself up. I rocked myself to sleep and told myself, 'I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead". Pain was intense by now. Five days had passed.

I collapsed again on a concrete slab outside the back door step. I was now unconscious.

I'm rushed to intensive care unit......at Royal Children's Hospital.....my white bloods cells are erratic, I've broken my hip and I have also contracted rheumatoid arthritis. I rock my head from side to side asI lay in bed with my leg in plaster in the air and cry out for my mother, "I want my mother, I want my mother". She does not come and then I tell myself, "I wish I was dead, I wish I was dead". Every morning I wake up disappointed.

to be continued .......