Some people may find content on this website distressing. Read more
Western Australia - Archival Item

John Walsh interviewed by Hamish Sewell in the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project (2011)

Reference No
Legal Status
National Library of Australia Bib ID

[From the National Library of Australia's Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project]

John Walsh, born in Perth, W.A. talks about his family background; his schooling; being the eldest of seven children; the neighbourhood and childhood routines; his father joining the army (1939); the children being removed from home by welfare officers and Salvation Army and taken to Mt Lawley Receiving Home; his mother's condition; the deals done by Welfare and institutions to receive money, army pay and child allowance; his first placement at Castledare; Children's Court; the children being separated and taken to different institutions; abuse; field days; locations of homes; the arrival of the first English/migrant kids to W.A. (1938/9); looking after his brother and sister; being sent to Contarf (1941) to assist in cleaning up site after construction of building; then sent to Tardun, living conditions, construction of building, food, sanitation, abuse; his mother's remarriage; Brother Kearney; children referred to by numbers; binoculars; radio broadcasts; attempted escapes from Clontarf; being a Ward of State until 21; finding his mother (1948); Bindoon Orphanage, conditions.

Walsh discusses his determination to tell his story; speaking to his mother, her understanding of situation; working on a farm at Serpentine after turning 16; working at Plaistowes, Perth; having no identity; returning to farm work; police; an encounter with father on streets of Perth (1949), his condition, living on the streets, looking for family; his wife's health struggle; attempt to talk with family; tracing records and the journey into past; the Apology being meaningless without compensation; the legacy of continual grief; Brother Cusack and treatment; his brother's tough life, fighting back against injustice; the lack of education, illiteracy; Catholicism; his marriage breakup; kids turning on priests and nuns with slingshots at Tardun; surviving on bush fruit; his ongoing discussion with CLAN, responsibility being with government not church; ongoing contact with brothers and sisters, death of siblings.

Prepared by: Debra Rosser