I’m entering the second week of my writer in residence month at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre, Western Australia. The first week was busy and intense, with several 1:1 sessions with writers who had submitted a piece of writing to me, and a couple of workshops. This coming week, I will be talking with creative writing students, staff ad postgrads at Edith Cowan University, and at the weekend, running another couple of writing workshops and participating in the gala day when results of the Trudy Graham writing competition will be announced.
The subject of my talks with ECU creative writers will be the biography I am writing about Fairbridge single parents and their children who came to Western Australia post-World War II. Since I began this project in 2010, there have been some momentous events in the Fairbridge story. In NSW, after David Hill’s documentary and book, and the film Oranges and Sunshine, a class action has been launched by the legal firm Slater and Gordon on behalf of ex-Fairbridge Molong children, against the NSW and Federal government, and the Fairbridge Foundation. Here in WA, there has been a settlement made by the WA government, with ex gratia payments made to over 200 claimants who were at Fairbridge Farm School Pinjarra from 1930 to 1981, when the farm school closed down, and who suffered abuse.
I would like to hear from any WA residents who were involved in this settlement as victims of abuse during the post war period up to 1981; in particular, any who were children of single parents in that time. So far, my research (group meetings and individual interviews) has not uncovered any stories of abuse. But the biography will be incomplete if such cases do exist, and are not included in the narrative.
So if you were one of those children at Pinjarra farm school from 1956 (when the One Parent scheme began) to 1981, I would love to hear from you, if you want to share your story. You don’t need to disclose your identity, but you can contact me through my email address, farthestnorth1[at]westnet.com.au.