Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Colebrook Reconciliation Park


The Grieving Mother figure at Colebrook Reconciliation Park
Colebrook Reconciliation Park in the Adelaide suburb, Eden Hills, was established in 1998 as a memorial to those Aboriginal children who were removed from their families and housed at Colebrook Home, a "United Aborigines" mission which had originated in Oodnadatta in 1924. Later, the mission moved to Quorn, before it was finally relocated to Eden Hills in 1942. The home was finally closed in 1972 and demolished in 1973.

"My baby, my baby..."
"My baby, my baby, please give back my baby."
A mother's words fall upon the deaf ears of authority.
Hearts break, tears fall, fear cries out
from the wrenched hands and arms of a mother and child separated.
Feel the pain, touch the ache, caress the tears.
Through ignorance and indifference came the disruption and destruction of family life.
~ AVIS EDWARDS, FORMER RESIDENT OF COLEBROOK HOME

For a brief period of time during the 1990’s, I was involved with the campaign to turn the site of the former mission (or home), into a permanent memorial to a generation of children who became known as the ‘Stolen Generation’. By 1998, following the success of the campaign involving a local reconciliation group and the Tji Tji Tjuta (former residents) of Colebrook Home, the Colebrook Reconciliation Park was born. In consultation with former residents of the home, a local artist, Silvio Apponyi, was commissioned to create a number of statues to install on site.

The finished works are the Pool of Tears, created in 1998, and Grieving Mother installed in 1999.

One of the figures on the Pool of Tears memorial
Background information on site at Colebrook Reconciliation Park
It is important to acknowledge that while Colebrook did house children who had been forcibly removed from their families by government officials, not all native children who passed through the institution were ‘stolen’ from their families. Some were placed there because their parents were unable to care for them. Other children had been taken from their families by non-Indigenous people as workers, and then abandoned when their services were no longer needed.

Sadly, over time, many children eventually lost most, if not all, of their language, culture and identity. When some of these children finally met their parents many years later, it was almost impossible for parent and child to bridge the language and culture gap. Tragically, some children never saw their parents again.

"We are the stolen children..."
A montage of former residents of Colebrook House
Thanks to the ongoing work and support of the Colebrook Tji Tji Tjuta, the Blackwood Reconciliation Group, the Aboriginal Lands Trust, and other groups and agencies, the Colebrook Reconciliation Park is now a permanent memorial to these children and their families.

Former residents hold 'campfire' gatherings for adult groups and for school and university students, where they share their stories and achieve reconciliation through creation of compassion and empathy.

Another view of the Pool of Tears
More Information
~ Admission is Free
~ Visits can be self guided or can be arranged for group
~ Guest speakers can be organised for a fee

Getting There (see map below)
On Shepherds Hill Road (next to Karinya Reserve), Eden Hills.
Bus 728 or 729 from the City to bus stop 29B, Shepherds Hills Road, Eden Hills
Off-street parking available

Enquiries
Tji Tji Tjuta, Mandy Brown
Email: mandy.brown[@]countryart.org.au

The Blackwood Reconciliation Group Meets on the first Wednesday of Each Month
Contact Dennis Matthews via email: deebeemat[@]adam.com.au

Online:
Colebrook Blackwood Reconciliation Park…
Colebrook Home…

Here is a short video I shot of the Colebrook Reconciliation Park


Music is by the Aboriginal artist, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. The song is Bapa (Father), from his debut album Gurrumul.

Google Map showing location of Colebrook Reconciliation Park:
View Larger Map

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