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David O'Brien

David O’Brien is a Poet/Philosopher/Radio Host/Mentor. He was born on the 14th November 1957 in Adelaide, South Australia. He, his brother and two sisters spent all of their childhoods in orphanages.  Abandoned at the age of one, his life entered the realms of aloneness none of us want to experience. His early life within Catholic Institutions was the platform for a life of searching for the destabilizing components of the ‘Male Mythos’.  His search has led him into most realms of experiential theory and further into the evolutionary cycles of humanity.

His life of poetry has been evolving for 33 years. Words were an essential and viable tool to recreate the harmony taken away from him at such an early age. Words that came from within.  Nurturing words made themselves known to him from the depths of his psyche we dare not access, or neither have access till later on in our lives. This understanding of deconstruction is prevalent in his poetry. It is a logbook of release from the constraints of oppression. 

In the advent of the late fifties, David and his three siblings found themselves abandoned by their parents at the ages of 3 months (Nannette), 1 year old (David) / 2 years old (Gail),  3 years old (Stephen) in a council house in Queenstown, South Australia. There was mention of a huge fight where both the parents left the house and went their separate ways, never to return. Three days later after the smell of four young children in a house by themselves aroused the neighbors, they entered the house and the children were taken into state custody then processed and made ‘Wards of the State’ of South Australia.

Many efforts were made to incarcerate the father but none were successful. His adaptation to hide from the carers of these Orphanages was tantamount in them allowing him to pick each child up separately from two institutions on a weekly basis and hiding their sexual and physical abuse for many years. As Adelaide, South Australia was filled with rather a large number of Institutionalized Religious Care Facilities precipitated by most if not all religious organizations in creating empathic environments for the public to be more welcoming for Religious Organizations to participate, on a Community level, in the caring of the young abused and abandoned children who were victims caught up in a fundamental pandemic of Family Dysfunctionalism which was at that time in the early 60’s were of Global proportions. It led to the One Parent Family Syndrome, of which now it has reached global epidemic. David spent 17 years institutionalized with the Roman Catholics from the age of one. 12 years in an Orphanage with his brother and 5 years in a Catholic boarding school. 

It is now, 50 years later that he finally lets his observations be known. What better way to observe this world than from the poetic heart of our Divine Inspiration. It is now that his words need to be read. As we weave ourselves through an untendered landscape filled with deceit and treachery many souls will be given as sacrifice to this illusory beast. So now we mop up the tears of our fathers who were bastardized for the sake of living soulless lives here on this beautiful planet.

Tamsin Dancer was born and raised in Adelaide, as a first generation Australian. With a father who migrated from England, mother who arrived as a Jewish child refugee (in a family of Holocaust survivors) and two siblings adopted from overseas, she has an intrinsic appreciation and need for diversity in her life. Tamsin’s public school education began in the Northern suburbs of Adelaide and finished in the Western suburbs, and she experienced poverty for parts of her life growing up in a sole parent family. While growing up, Tamsin’s mother took care of foster children and her homeless friends.

After she gained a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Social Work through Flinders University of South Australia, Tamsin put this to good use to implement her strong passion for youth issues. Initially this was in the youth housing sector and then with CREATE Foundation, with children and young people who are or have been in state care. Since then her focus has become more internal, as she has had two children. However, she continues to hold young people in care and the issues they face close to her heart, and she has ended up working in Child Protection on the inside of the system. Tamsin’s intention is to make an immediate difference to those she works with by sharing the respect every human being deserves no matter where their life has lead them.

Amanda Gargula lives in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia, with her husband, Steven, and her 13-year-old son who has Asperger Syndrome. Two of Steve’s 3 children are currently residing full time with Amanda and Steve. Amanda is studying at UniSA in their Foundation Studies program, and all up, has a very full life.

Frank Golding BA (Melbourne), MA (Hons.) (London); BEd (Melbourne), Dip MT (UNE), TPTC (Ballarat). Convicted of being without sufficient means, Frank Golding was a Ward of the State of Victoria from 1940 aged 2 until released in 1953 aged 15.  During his lost childhood, he experienced three foster homes and three institutions, the main one being Ballarat Orphanage.  This traumatic personal experience is documented in his book, An Orphan's Escape: Memories of a Lost Childhood (Lothian 2005).

From 1997 Frank was founding Secretary of a Victorian care leaver group, Lives of State Shame (LOSS), which became absorbed by VANISH in 1998.  Subsequently, he joined CLAN and is now its Vice President, editor of its newsletter, The Clanicle, and its representative on the Alliance for Forgotten Australians.

Before becoming a professional writer, Frank was a teacher, school principal, university manager and social researcher.  He is a regular contributor to radio and newspapers.  He is the author or co-author of a dozen books and is working on his thirteenth - dealing with his family’s history on the welfare treadmill over five generations.

Between them, Frank and Liz have four children - all clever enough to allow their parents to indulge in travel and music.

J is a 28 year old single mother. She was born with Marfans Syndrome which affects her heart muscles and bones.

At the age of 16 J joined Future Echoes, which is now known as CREATE Foundation. She became a young consultant and started sharing her experiences with foster parents, social workers and politicians. J was also involved with setting up the Charter of Rights with the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People; and she was also involved in the Youth Advisory Group for the Mullighan Inquiry.

J is now involved with SPARK Resource Centre, a wonderful organisation providing support and resources to sole parents and their children.

David Jackson reckons he is one of the very lucky ones. Lucky to have had the one caregiver – from birth until he left home at 18 - and extraordinarily lucky his mum was the loving saint she was.
However, things weren’t all smooth sailing for him. Once he had said goodbye to his childhood at age 18 and had moved out of home, David found himself drifting along. Eventually, though, he went back to school, resat his matriculation and went to university to get a Social Work degree. He was the first in his family to go to university, but, no matter how empowered he became through education he never strayed far from his beloved mum’s beliefs. Namely, “never be impressed by anybody because of who they are or what they have or what they say they do, but rather be inspired by those who really do believe.”

David has worked as a Social Worker in Child Protection now for nearly 15 years. For the most part he has found parents, families and communities open to frank and transparent discussions about child safety, and receptive to partnership approaches. He would like to see more care leavers employed within the system because they could provide balance and influence from the recipients perspective.

Marjorie Malkog (nee Barton) attends Banksia House Day and Respite Centre at Millicent in the South East of South Australia for two or three days per week. She is a very sociable woman willing and able to be friendly to other clients and staff. She is always a positive person despite having had many difficulties in her personal life over many years.

Marjorie is skilled at sewing, knitting and other handicrafts. She is also very clever at completing items of work left unfinished by other people. Marjorie is always looking for new craft ideas and enjoys making items for friends as personal gifts for special occasions such as Christmas.

Deidre Michell is a theologian living and working as an academic in Adelaide, South Australia. She is married and has 3 children (2 adults and 1 teenager). Deidre has degrees from the University of Adelaide and Flinders University in South Australia and in 2009 her PhD thesis, Christian Science: Women, Healing & the Church, was published by the University Press of America. Deidre is also the co-editor (with Jude Noble) of Women Journeying with Spirit which was published by Ginninderra Press in 2010.

Pam lived in a Victorian orphanage for 7 or 8 years. She now lives in South Australia and volunteers in a nursing home. This job, which she has had for 5 years, is the only job she has been able to stick to. She likes the old people and they like her. It took about 4 years but she is now quite confident working in the nursing home; she knows what she has to do and likes to make the old people laugh.

Al Smith describes himself as a battler. He's been an Artist for twenty years, and has exhibited in some of Brisbane's finest galleries, alongside the likes of Ken Done and Allan "Alfie" Langer. His mentor and good friend of many years, was the late James Holmyard.
Al plays several musical instruments and has recorded cd's that received acclaim at the Queensland Recording Association Awards. His favourite musical memories include performing with Ray Davies (The Kinks), Lobo, Keith Urban and Author Peter Carey. Al has recorded music with the best of musicians including Alan O'Day, Phil Manning, and Quan "Mr Regurgatator" Yeomans. He is an Honorary member of The Blues Association of The Sunshine Coast, and a full writer member of APRA.

Al has been a conservationist for many years and was one of hundreds people who fought to save Mt Nardi Rainforest in the 1970's. The Honourable Neville Bonner, Australia's first Indigenous Senator, was of great assistance to Al in his one man fight to establish a native tree seed bank that was established at Mt Annan, in 1989.  Around this time the Media tagged Al "The Treeman" when reporting how he had grown 10,000 Australian Native trees, in the garage and on the balcony of his unit. He has been commended by Midnight Oil frontman and previous Minister for The Environment, Peter Garrett, for his efforts.

Al is also the author of Koala and Bunny (,a children's book written to help children become more aware of the private parts of their bodies. Al hopes Koala & Bunny will help prevent children from becoming victims of abuse.

Ryszard Szablicki left the strict, religious and confusing Anglo/Celtic brush of the orphanages at age ten to live in a house with six male European tenants, Polish parents and an elder sister. He had gone from dormitories to rooms and from children to adults. The parents were his new keepers and the tenants his new cohort. But none had grown with him and so the confusion continued. Two diverse worlds of dammed confusion had taught him that acceptance, guile and endurance were his keys to survival and that he mattered only to himself.

There was little connection with his sister; it was like they were fellow house occupants. In 1972 his sister got married in America and stayed there. Shortly after Ryszard left the parents’ house and worked and drifted through the outback for the next several years. In an ironic twist to his orphanages years, it was now Ryszard who would decide whether or when he would see the parents in the future.

In 1976, standing outside the Victoria Police Academy, Ryszard panned his eyes across what was once a Catholic Church seminary. He was about to live in it as a recruit for twenty weeks. Confronting, disturbing, unsettling and yet familiar, he had returned to an institution of sorts. He survived. He married in 1978 and ten years later the couple’s only child, a boy, was born. In 1991 Ryszard left the police force and for two years cared fulltime for his son before starting work with a Federal Government Department. His wife and son are his family, something he never truly had in the past.

Priscilla Taylor is in a good place now. She has good people for friends and she sees it is as a bonus that her sons are doing well: Andrew is fit, Derek has a positive attitude, and Jarrad completes his diploma in music this year.
Priscilla, along with others, has been working hard for many years for the public recognition of Forgotten Australians. She is thrilled that much has already been achieved – Inquiries, Apologies, services for support, the Memorials around the country, the Oral History Project by the National Library, and a Connect & Link service about to begin. While there is still more to be done, Priscilla feels very satisfied that work has begun and is gaining momentum.

Thérèse Williams had for many years kept her life a secret. She was deeply ashamed of who she perceived herself to be and did not want to be judged by her childhood experience and considered unemployable. She was hyper-sensitive and reacted angrily to perceived criticism.

In 1988 when Thérèsewas 47 years old she had a dream. From a young age Thérèse had often dreamt of climbing up a high cliff and falling down, or being pushed off the cliff. This time, however, she got to the top of the cliff and was about to put her foot over the top when there was an explosion. The cliff disintegrated, Thérèse clung to the piece she was holding, and the rock and the woman went flying through space. Thérèse thought her time had come.

Suddenly two hands reached up and gently grasped the rock with Thérèse on it and together they floated gently down, coming to a stop under a shady tree near a flowing stream with beautiful birds and butterflies overhead, and fish jumping out of the water. They sat under the tree and Thérèse finally felt at peace. When she woke up she began to cry and she continued to cry for weeks.

After this Thérèse started working on herself and has been doing so for the past 20 years. She goes to healing masses, attends seminars and reads self-help books which have exercises like “self-matters” by Dr Phil. If someone criticizes her now, she may feel very upset but she tries to work towards change, or accepts the things she can’t change. Thérèse considers herself to be a work in progress and probably always will be, but she is becoming more serene and accepting of herself and others.

Karen Laura-Lee Wilson is the author of Gaining a Sense of Self, (Sid Harta, Melbourne, 2010). Her memoir is a detailed and gut wrenching account of her first twenty-five years growing up in a sole parent family with a narcissistic mother. Embedded in her story are universal themes of abandonment, love, hate, determination, optimism and endurance. Importantly, she also highlights the disastrous consequences divorce and abuse can have on children.
Mostly set in Brisbane, Australia during the 1950s and 1960s, her journey is a search for identity. Karen entices her readers to accompany her on this gritty journey through years of hunger, poverty, self-doubt and deprivation of mother-love. Eventually Karen finds her own path through education, positive and negative sexual relationships, and travel.