Stolen Generations Five generations of family

Dec 22, 2015, 07:43 AM

Cabbage Tree Island is a large, flat, teardrop of sugar cane land on a reach of the Richmond River on the New South Wales far north coast.

It is also home to the Njangbal clan of the Bundjalung people, and it is 'country' for former Jali Local Aboriginal Land Council chairwoman Sandra Bolt.

In the 1950s and 60s, Mrs Bolt's mother was assiduous in making sure the house was spick and span, and all 13 of her children were spotless ahead of the monthly inspection by the mission manager's wife — one of the few things her mother could do to stop her children being targeted by 'the welfare'.

"We were all as a family kept together because my mother protected us from being taken away by the welfare, and then my little brother was drowned on Cabbage Tree Island," Mrs Bolt recalled sadly.

"That was when my family moved to Sydney, and my sister and I worked as domestics at Vaucluse."

AUDIO 12:55 Bundjalung woman Sandra Bolt speaks about her family ABC NEWS

The sisters met men and settled down. Mrs Bolt's sister Irene and her partner found a silver lining in a dark cloud after a workplace accident left them with enough compensation to buy a house in Balmain and a new car.

Then one day in the early 1970s, Government officers swooped and removed the youngest five of her six children, to be fostered in separate homes in different parts of the state.

The eldest child removed was just six years old.