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Western Australia - Archival Item

Bert McGregor interviewed by Caroline Evans in the Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants oral history project (2010)

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National Library of Australia Bib ID

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

Bert McGregor born 1941, in Aberdeen, Scotland talks about his siblings; his family being Roman Catholic; having no memories of living at home; unmarried mother, being taken to Nazareth House at two months old; mother refusing permission for his adoption; being told he was a war orphan, later finding out he had family (1987); his memories of Nazareth House in Scotland; arriving in Australia at the age of five, enjoying the trip, being cared for by nuns, a priest, and older children; the effects of institutionalisation; Sisters of St Joseph; emotional and psychological support; Castledare orphanage; not being able to read, good at mathematics; The Brothers; children's limited education; farm work and being chief sacristan; daily routine at Clontarf and Castledare orphanages; going on hunger strike; evening and prayer routine; learning about animals and gardening; the children living a monastic life, finding religion comforting; his friendships; no acknowledgement of birthdays; joining the Christian Brothers to become a religious teacher; spending his holidays with the Smith family; corporal punishment used as discipline; no inspections by state officials; music playing an important part in boys' lives; later in his life conducting survey concerning sexual abuse cases.

McGregor speaks about working in Fiji for two years; suffering depression; Christian Brothers encouraging him to leave the order; writing his book about surviving abuse, 'With God behind the Eight Ball'; being unemployed, sent by the Church to the Kimberley to teach Aboriginal children; Barry Coldrey; returning to Fiji again; a missing chapter to his book; pedophiles; the personal cost of being a whistle blower; discovering that Alex McDonald was his brother; meeting his brother while visiting his mother in Aberdeen; the difficulties bonding with his birth family because of cultural differences; meeting his brother Jimmy; not knowing if Mary, another sister, exists; mental illness, religion providing consolation; the psychological abuse starting at Castledare orphanage when he was eight; deciding to become a Christian Brother; his journey from Clontarf to Strathfield; learning to read; becoming a teacher, encouraging creativity, teaching music and art; the Church encouraging him to become a missionary; child abuse; enjoyed teaching in different cultures; counselling care leavers; missing other Christian Brothers and friends.



  • Coldrey, Barry M., The Scheme: the Christian Brothers and Childcare in Western Australia, Argyle-Pacific Pub., O'Connor, W.A., 1993. Details
  • Humphreys, Margaret, Empty Cradles, Doubleday, London; Sydney, 1994. Details

Online Resources

Prepared by: Debra Rosser