It has been 50 years since the closure of the infamous Kinchela Boys Home, but former residents of the brutal establishment want people to remember what survivors endured.
A mobile exhibition about the centre, situated on the mid-north coast of NSW, is doing the rounds of the state in partnership with the Department of Education, reminding visitors what happened to the Stolen Generation.
Kinchela Boys Home was set up in 1924 by the Aboriginal Protection Board to provide ‘training’ for Aboriginal boys.
The home was filled with boys from the Stolen Generation, with the aim of merging them into the white population.
The boys were addressed by number, never by name and regularly beaten. They worked long hours in vegetable gardens and were sent out to work as labourers at the age of 15, with the Board controlling all their earnings.
“We were starved, we were flogged. We were abused physically and sexually,’ survivor James Michael ‘Widdy’ Welsh told the ABC two years ago.
“I found myself in and out of all the big jail systems. I didn’t understand the trauma I had, and the word trauma, I didn’t even know it existed.”
Former resident Richard Campbell created the bus-museum with other survivors to ensure the experiences they endured would never be forgotten.
"That trauma that we endured, telling us that we didn't have a name, we didn't have a family, we didn't have a culture, we didn't have a language," Mr Campbell told the ABC.
More than 500 boys were housed at Kinchela, which closed in 1970. The bus contains an interior exhibition and has been developed in consultation with survivors. "The back half has been converted into a cinema with a 65' screen, where we show a short animated film made by some of the Uncles, giving everyone a first-hand account of their experiences at Kinchela Boys Home," designer and project manager Christophe Domergue told the Bellingen Courier.
Students and visitors are encouraged to talk to survivors about their time at the home.
"That is very important for our kids because they suffer from our trauma through intergenerational trauma and it's still affecting our kids at the moment," Mr Campbell said.
"That trauma is affecting a lot of Indigenous people around New South Wales.
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