The Guardian August 28, 2002

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Letters to the Editor:

Lost in society

I would like to reply to the Government's remark, there was no lost 
generation. I was lost in this society. I was taken away from my Mother at 
the age of six months and placed in a Boys' Home at Wooloowin in Brisbane 
and became a ward of the State.

I was hired out to a number of foster parents only to be exploited by them. 
I did all sorts of chores, washing and drying dishes, feeding and watering 
fowls and sometimes I was up until midnight to catch fowls for show 

At the age of ten years I was sent to the Salvation Army Home for Boys at 
Indooroopilly and that was an experience I can tell you.

We worked in the kitchen and laundry, chopped and sawed wood, scrubbed 
floors, sang hymns and did gymnastics for concerts to earn money for the 
Salvation Army.

We sang carols in the streets and went from house to house collecting money 
for the Army.

While I was there I experienced the shocking flogging of an Aboriginal kid 
named Billy Gordon.

Officer Rogan, who was in charge at that time, told all the boys to gather 
under the home after lunch. He told Billy to take off his clothes and to 
lie across a chair. He then caned him from the shoulders to his buttocks 
and told us all if we made the same remarks as Billy we would get the same.

I was informed Billy made some remarks when he caught them making love.

The officers were brutal with the cane and many a time there was a big 
lineup in the dormitory for the cane with four to six cuts for trivial 

At the age of 14, I was sent to work on a dairy farm. I slept in a garage 
and the only bit of furniture I had was a kerosene box to put a hurricane 
lamp on. My wardrobe was a three-inch nail.

My bed was an old iron bedstead. The wire sagged in the middle and the 
mattress was a chaff bag stuffed with oaten hay that would penetrate into 
our skin.

The pillow was made of the same material. There were no sheets or 
pillowslips. The blankets were corn bags sewn together with a bagging 

I had to rise at 2 am to round up the cows to milk. In winter, I would have 
to walk barefooted over frosty ground with chilblains on my feet, kicking 
stones and falling over logs in the dark.

When a cow rose and did her droppings I would get it with both feet and rub 
it all over my feet for the warmth. It would relieve the pain temporarily.

After helping to milk 60 cows, plus separating the milk, feeding calves and 
pigs I would sit down to breakfast consisting of cracked corn, skim milk 
and cockies joy which was golden syrup instead of sugar to sweeten it.

Then barefooted we would have to chase horses to round them up for the 
ploughing. At 14 years, I was expected to do a man-sized job.

At sunset we would go through the same procedure of milking, etc. finishing 
about 9.30 at night. This was the daily routine for 365 days a year. I 
worked there for four years and had no time off.

In the first year my wages were set by the State Government Department at 
six shilling a week. In today's currency it would be about 60 cents. In the 
second year there was an increase of two shillings a week and then at 15 
shillings in the last year.

This money was supposed to be paid into a Queensland Treasury trust fund to 
be paid to me when I became 18 years of age.

I did not receive it and have been fighting for 70 odd years. I have 
written to State Premiers and been told my records were destroyed in the 
1970 flood when the Treasury was flooded out. What a load of baloney.

I learnt of my Aboriginality after Senator Lionel Murphy got the freedom of 
information Act passed in Parliament which opened the Pandora's Box 
allowing a lot of people to find out more about their hereditary.

My full name is Melrose Desmond Donley. My Mother's name was Annie Georgina 
Donley. She was born in St George Queensland.

The department has refused to give me any information about my Mother and 
nothing about my earnings either.

Des Donley

Disability pension reviews unnecessary
This may or may not be newsworthy. The information on the Bill put 
forward in the Senate by the Coalition in regards to reviewing all people 
receiving a disability pension is not correct. In the media Peter Costello 
said that the "only" people to be excluded would be a person who is totally 
blind; this is also incorrect.

The people who will "only" be exempt from the review will be TPI's  armed 
forces  i.e. "totally and permanently incapacitated" "and" non-combatants 
who receive a disability pension through the Armed forces via Centrelink 
because they may not be able to carry out their usual duties like carrying 
a rifle or backpack etc.

The Federal Government's stand on this discrimination is that "these 
pensioners will not be included in the review as they automatically are 
considered to meet the new DSP rules".

This is also incorrect as I know a number of people who are ex-armed forces 
and who fall into the above categories and since they received their 
pensions eight to 12 years ago, have not been reviewed to the standard of 
the new rules.

One TPI I know purchased a motor home and is now travelling around 
Australia. I mentioned this to my doctor and he said this is not uncommon 
as a number of his Vietnam TPI patients are doing exactly this and he 
wonders how somebody who is "totally and permanently incapacitated" is able 
to do this activity.

I am on a disability pension and I do not believe there should be a review 
for anybody as there are things put in place for people who defraud the 

Why is a person in one occupation receiving a pension "untouchable" while 
everybody else in all other occupations can be reviewed or whatever by an 
Act of Parliament?

I would like to withhold my name as this Government is not only mean and 
tricky but also very nasty!

Concerned pensioner

Thank the Democrats
All Australians can thank the Democrats for the GST and the Industrial 
Relations mess we are in today. Former Democrat leaders gave us rampant 
underemployment and escalating living costs.

They succeeded in shifting Australian human rights into the third world for 
all those except double income no kids families.

As for the environment their lip service will not be missed.

Will the Democrats now fill the gap left by Pauline Hanson with Meg at the 

There is never a dull moment in politics if the press get their way.

Mary Jenkins
Underemployed People's Union, WA
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