by Therese P.
(Printed with kind permission)
I watched Lateline with Jennifer Burn last night with interest. For many years I have pleaded with
Welfare authorities to give me answers for taking my children.
I obtained my file in 1995. My fears were reality when I read the terrible lies two welfare officers
wrote to make a judge determine I would never regain custody of my children after I telephoned the Child Welfare in 1963 to
get help to pay a three pounds ten shillings electricity account.
It took two officers six hours to arrive from Newtown to Lilyfield. The two officers were in my unit
no more than 20 minutes. They had no intention of helping me, instead the male officer who was no older than I at the time
(I was 22), told me he was the Child Welfare and could take my children. My husband had left me weeks before.
The male took Donna and Lee-Anne forcibly by taking their fingers from my legs. Donna was 3 1/2 years
old, Lee-Anne was 17 months. My baby was dragged from my arms, she was eight months old and I was breast feeding her, by the
female. The girls screams were heard over the motor of the car as it sped away. My house was spotless, my girls were bathed
and fed, there was food in my cupboards. There was no reason to take my children. When I told the officer I could not let
him take my children, his actions to remove my children took a matter of moments. Two of the girls were placed in Havilah
C of E home at Carlingford. I was to pay maintenance, my baby disappeared. I pleaded and begged for information on Loulle.
I was told nothing.
I fell pregnant and gave birth to Karyn in June 1964. I was told to adopt her out. The Social Worker
at King George Hospital told me to give her up and concentrate on the girls I knew. I could not do that, she knew that. I
was never advised on any issues you raised on Lateline. Instead, I was induced and gave birth after 23 hours of labour. I
begged the nursing staff to give me my baby but I was ignored. The sheet was over my face, I was heavily sedated but I fought
that. Karryn was then taken away quickly by an asian nurse. I protested for hours until I was worn out. I was sedated and
transferred to the 6th floor into a private room.
The Social Worker was beside my bed when I awoke crying. I wanted to keep my baby. Mrs Scott told
me to be realistic and forget Karryn and think of the girls I knew. I begged her to let me see Karryn. I was refused. I crept
away from the 6th floor to the nursery where the nurse allowed me to hold Karryn. I was caught returning to the 6th floor.
Karryn was never available for me after that. When I left the hospital I never forgot Karryn. I telephoned Welfare and Mrs
Scott to say I did not want to give her up for adoption. I was told I had a chance to get Loulle back if I forgot Karryn.
I was conned by Welfare and the Social Worker. I never saw Loulle, nor told anything of her for 24
years, she was given to people at Bingara. I found her address when I applied for a pension and saw it on my file without
the pension officer knowing. I kidnapped Donna and Lee-Anne from Havilah, after two months. I was threatened with going to
prison for kidnapping my own children and never seeing them again. I returned them to the home, Lee-Anne disappeared that
same night. I never saw her or was told anything of her for 9 years when she had run away from her foster parents 8 times,
broken down she had kept running to find me.
After all my pleading I was given custody of her, she was 14 years of age then. Donna was sent to
another home, I applied for her custody legally. Because I did that, an officer wrote dreadful lies about me for a Judge to
determine I could never see her. She was given to 60 year old foster parents. I was told she needed a father. My husband was
out of my life. I was allowed contact with Donna. That stopped when she became uncontrollable after seeing me and wanting
to come home with me. We wrote to and fro twice a week. I have her letters. Donna was hit by a car out the front of her foster
parents home. I was notified 3 days later. Because Welfare wanted me to sign a form, the Welfare officer refused to tell me
which hospital she was in until I signed.
When I arrived at the hospital, the doctor told me I could not see Donna. He said if I loved her I
would have been here 3 days ago when she was given one hour to live by three hospitals. I was devastated. I told the doctor
I was told just one hour before. When he saw I was honest he allowed me to be with Donna. I stayed with her every day for
4 and 5 hours a day. She died after 26 days. I was denied all information of her funeral. The Welfare Minister and his aides
attended the funeral in three cars. I was forced out of the procession by other cars to be eighth in line.
My mother and two friends were appalled at the way I was treated in Donna's death. I became very ill.
I attempted suicide several times but I never gave up fighting to get my children back, nor did I let the Welfare forget I
was not going while they kept my children. Donna's name bears the foster parents names. They knew her for 12 months. The coroner
ruled that Donna died from natural causes not caused by the accident. Her Death Certificate says different. She died from
meningitus caused from infected pus from her failed kidneys which travelled up her spine to her brain. The same Welfare officer
who refused to tell me which hospital she was in attended as well as a police officer. Their evidence was wrong. My Barrister
raised issues of corruption but was instructed by the coroner to contact the Commissioner. I was frightened to do that because
of repercussions, because I was alone.
I met a man who I was friends with for 12 years. I had a son, Darryn to him. The Welfare threatened
to take him also, if I did not sign adoption papers for the girls, who, in 1968 were still with foster parents. Robert, my
friend, told them to stay out of his sons life. Instead their attentions turned to his school. They harassed him behind my
back. I reared Darryn to their regret.
I was proven to be a good mother by all officers except the two who caused the damage to my family.
One officer who met me once for less than half and hour, the other met me only when he wanted me to sign a form for Donna
in hospital, and yet, his report, 12 months before her death read as a nightmare that I had 4 illegitimate children with different
fathers and I was an immoral woman who had sex with many men in my home in front of my children when they were babies.
When I read my file I couldn't believe the reports of those two men only, but judges believed them.
I had no idea why the Welfare did this to me. In 1980 a Welfare officer came to my home. He didn't ask me to sign adoption
papers for Loulle, he told me to sign because Loulle would hate me if I didn't. I did not sign them. His words were planted
in my mind and I signed the papers one week later. Loulle was almost 18 years of age.
My girls and I, today, have very little contact because they were told I was a bleach blonde prostitute
and I gave them up. Their belief is that I kept Darryn because I did not want girls. The girls are now 33, 35 and 36 years
old now and we have lost our fight. One girl wanted to fight the Government for wrongfully removing her from me. The scars
Like you girls I want recognition of the wrong done to us. What the Welfare authorities did back then
was tantamount to kidnap of our children and something so wrong cannot be right by any standards, whether it was 30 days or
30 years ago, it should not matter. It happened. The Welfare Department committed a crime against us vulnerable women and
our babies. Officers were inhumane towards us and we all still suffer today because of their wrong doings - the authorities
we were supposed to trust.
I know my case is controversial and possibly beyond anyone's comprehension, nevertheless what I have
written is the truth. Welfare officers today, say, "not bloody Therese again" when I telephone to air my views and ask why.
They feel I am neurotic and should forget and get on with my life. I have been told that by these officers.
When I read my file I sought legal advice. One Solicitor and three Barristers later I was told I am
out of time - there is nothing I can do. I am barred because of S.51 of the Limitations Act, and further barred because the
only method of obtaining an extension could be by S.58 and it seems I would not qualify to satisfy S.58. The Limitations point
is insurmountable, so I dont have a chance to face those officers. I feel we are a political issue. The authorities want us
to go away and forget our pasts.
I thank you for raising these issues and I would like to join your organisation.
Copyright © Dian Wellfare, Origins Inc, 1995