In discussing the current crisis of over-incarceration, it is important to acknowledge the ongoing impact of the Stolen Generations, according to Rosemary Roe, a Yamatji woman.
In this interview below conducted on Whadjuk Nyoongar country at Walyalup (Fremantle), Rosemary gives many insights into how the past of colonisation is woven into the present of incarceration.
In her own family, there is experience of Stolen Generations and imprisonment, as well as resistance and advocacy.
Rosemary’s mother, whose own mother was taken as a young girl from her family in the Leonora area, was one of the first Aboriginal teachers in Western Australia.
Rosemary is now researching her mother’s biography, and believes that investigating family histories can be healing, even if it is painful.
“You have got to know your past for your future. It’s important for our kids, so that we learn that and pass it on,” she says.
“Sharing stories is very powerful. Each family has got a story to tell. It’s about sharing stories, surviving and helping each other understand each other’s different cultures. It’s time for Australia to stop and think.”
Rosemary also talks about the stress experienced by families when members are in the grips of justice and child protection systems, and urges governments and policy makers to “start listening to the Elders”.
She also discusses the need for treaty and wider issues of justice and reparation. “I’m getting to the stage, your law is not my law; it’s not working,” she says.
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