Stolen Generation a long time coming home

MARJORIE Woodrow sits among the many books, newspaper articles and legal case studies that all have their genesis in her own personal journey.

Marjorie, 87, is one of the Stolen Generation and has been a vocal activist over many years campaigning for the return of rights and “stolen wages” to her fellow first Australians.

While she is more well-known further up the NSW coast, Marjorie recently moved to Bega and is living with her eldest daughter.

Belying her advancing age, she said she is far from done in her quest for reconciliation and is keen to make further contact with Indigenous people and communities in the local area.

Marjorie said she was born in May 1926 under a tree at Corowra Tank, near Murrin Bridge in Central NSW.

She was only two years old when she was taken from her family and made a ward of the state.

“I was brought up in a home as a state ward,” she said.

“It was a hard life – girls were molested. Some coped, some died, some suicided.

“It was dreadful.

“Aboriginals still don’t talk about it today even.”

However, Marjorie said she used that hard upbringing to forge her into an outspoken representative for her people.

“No-one knows the real truth,” she said.

“I made it out, but a lot didn’t.

“This is a new life for me and you have to work hard - to create things, to change things, to learn what’s going on with my people.”

Marjorie credits many influential people she has had the pleasure of meeting over the years, including Senator John Faulkner and “Black Santa” (Sidney “Doc” Cunningham).

“People I’ve mixed with have steered me in the right direction.”

However, she also showers praise on NSW seniors, who she said bought up every copy of her first book, One of the Lost Generation.

It was written once Marjorie became more aware of her Aboriginal heritage and wanted to share her story and that of her people with a wider audience.

“I found out I was Aboriginal and wanted to find out who I was and where I’m from.”

The book had the added benefit of reuniting her with her birth mother, Ethel Johnson.

“This little book, published in Dubbo, is responsible for all this,” Marjorie said, indicating the tomes of information published about her life and quest.

“Apparently someone showed the book to my mum and she said ‘that’s my girl, get her back here’.”

Marjorie returned to Murrin Bridge to see her mum, 68 years after being removed from her family.

The reunion was tragically short-lived.

“I only had her for 11 months,” Marjorie said, as her mum succumbed to breast and lung cancer.

“She said you’re the boss now, you have to look after the mission.”

A second book, Long Time Coming Home, is Ethel’s story as recalled by Marjorie after her death.

Marjorie hopes to continue promoting her books, but said she has no use for any royalties.

Instead, she wants any money funnelled back to any other elders who wish to write and publish their stories, “so we don’t have to beg governments for money”.

“I’ve found the media is where my people have a voice.

“Elders’ voices need to be heard.

“It is very important to show what we can do and there’ll be no ructions.

“Work together and everything will be better.”

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