A harrowing story of the Stolen Generations was delivered on-stage at Westmead Hospital for National Sorry Day, which acknowledges and raises awareness of the history and continued effect of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from their families, communities and culture.
The powerful one-woman performance, from award-winning actress, Sandy Greenwood, came straight from the heart.
My grandmother had 14 children forcibly removed in the sixties, the first eight were taken, then a few years later the rest were taken,” she told the audience.
“Obviously that has created huge traumatic impact on me and my family.”
The performance included three scenes from Sandy’s critically acclaimed production, The Matriarch which explores the strength and resilience of four Gumbaynggirr women, spanning over 100 years of Australian history.
Sandy said her mum was the oldest of the children in her grandmother’s family to be taken, and after this, “things were never the same again.”
“Telling our story is very healing but it’s also triggering,” said Sandy.
It’s hard to bring up the pain. It really does still affect me greatly but sharing my story on days like these is important.”
As for how we can help with the healing process, Sandy said, “Black fellas heal by going back to country with our families and with our stories.”
“That’s how kids grow up with a strong identity; that’s how I grew up with a strong identity even though my mum was Stolen Gen because she took us back and we grew up in the community so that’s something to keep in mind. Keep talking and keep sharing.”
Sandy and Belinda Cashman, Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Director of Aboriginal Health, also discussed the impact of the Stolen Generation on themselves as Indigenous women, with family members who were stolen.
“When you have experiences like that, you just don’t know where you fit in the world,” said Belinda.
“Whether it’s a black world or a white world… sometimes you’re not accepted.”
Sandy has been fighting for 20 years to tell her people’s stories through acting and said “it feels good that we are progressing with days like today.”
The WSLHD stands in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as allies.