(AUSTRALIA) Generations Story On Anniversary OF National Apology: Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann was just a child when her two-year-old sister Pilawuk White was abruptly taken — but she was too young at the time to understand what had happened #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Feb.14: Pilawuk was taken from Daly River to the Garden Point Mission on Melville Island, before being sent to Adelaide and adopted by a non-Aboriginal family:

Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann shares Stolen Generations story on anniversary of National Apology: ‘She was snatched from her mum’s lap, where we were on the farm. That was about the time the missionaries came in,” Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann said’

ABC News: Published: 14/02/2021: 6m ago:

Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann stands outside in the garden, looking straight into the camera.
Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann shared her story ahead of the 13th anniversary of the National Apology to Stolen Generations.(ABC News: Tiffany Parker)

I was too young to realise what all this meant.”

The 2021 Senior Australian of the Year wouldn’t see her sister again for another 14 years. 

Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann searched for information about what had happened to her sister. 

“I was curious about it all and wanted to know why and where my sister was taken,” she said.

“I found out that not only my sister but many other children also were taken from our community.

“Through people talking around the community, I learned that Pilawuk was taken for having a white father and was put with a white family to have a better life. Did she?”

Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann shared her story ahead of the 13-year anniversary of the historic National Apology to the Stolen Generations, and called for compensation for victims in the Northern Territory.

An elderly Indigenous woman speaks into a microphone.
Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann at her home in Nauiyu, Daly River, in the Northern Territory.(ABC Darwin: Amy Spear)

“Although a formal apology has been made, the Commonwealth has refused to pay compensation to members of the Stolen Generations in the Northern Territory, despite their own recommendations to do so,” she said.

“All other states with similar policies have paid compensation to those affected.

“They need to be compensated because of the trauma that family, like myself and others, have by having the government take our children away.

“It’s not just with me; it’ll be with my grandkids. It is with my sister who was taken away, her children and their children. It is just going to continue.”

‘The happiest and saddest moment of her life’

It was more than a decade after Pilawuk was taken that a letter to the Daly River superintendent would start the process of piecing together a family torn apart by government policy.

A 16-year-old Pilawuk had begun to feel the need to find her family again and, while reading the newspaper, she found something she hoped would help.

“Pilawuk saw an article in the paper about a dispute between Tipperary and Daly River [stations],” Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann said.

The Daly River
Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann’s sister was taken from Daly River in the Northern Territory(Matt Brann: ABC Rural)

So she wrote to the superintendent saying that she was trying to find her family and asking if he knew them — which he did.‘Years later, what’s changed?’The national apology was supposed to be life-changing. So why is it now a bittersweet memory for the survivors?Read more

“[He] wrote back saying yes, he knew her sister Miriam,” Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann said.

“Pilawuk carries this letter with her everywhere.

“She says it was the happiest and saddest moment of her life.”

Reuniting with Pilawuk after so many years was bittersweet, Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann said.

“I remember sitting at a place, in front of the shop, we were all sitting in a circle,” she said.

“And I said to Mum: ‘Mum, this is Pilawuk’ and Mum gasped and hugged and cried.

“We all cried, we were very excited to see her come back to us.

Dr Ungunmerr-Bauman stands outside with young kids.
Dr Ungunmerr-Bauman says her family has come together, years after her sister was taken.(ABC News: Tiffany Parker)

“But she has been traumatised by this as much as we have.

“She was one of the lucky ones, not lucky being stolen but lucky to trace her family back to Daly River.”

A divided family united

Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann said it was also difficult for her sister to adjust once she had come home.

“Pilawuk wanted so much to belong but being brought up in a Western way of life was a lot different to how we were brought up. She needed to understand our way,” she said.

“I got her around, by walking with her gently, slowly, I didn’t want to scare her and make her feel like she didn’t belong with us.

“Now we are a big, happy family, learning the white people way and, of course, our way.”

Play Video. Duration: 6 minutes 59 seconds
Senior Australian of the Year Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann AM

Dr Ungunmerr-Baumann is using the story to call on the Commonwealth Government to listen to survivors of the Stolen Generations.

“I talk on Aboriginal spiritually called Dadirri. It is deep listening, silent, still awareness,” she said.

“Come and sit with me on country and listen.

“It’s not just my community, it’s other communities that are in the same boat and wanting government to come and sit and listen to what the needs are.”

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Feb.14: 2021:

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