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Collaboration Community Organisations Foundation Indigenous People News

Org builds first ‘truth telling museum’, healing centre

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This National Sorry Day, not-for-profit organisation Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) and leading bus company CDC NSW are launching a campaign to build the country’s first truth telling museum and healing centre for Stolen Generations survivors, their families and communities.

KBHAC Chairperson, Uncle James Michael ‘Widdy’ Welsh aka Uncle Widdy called on all Australians to support the project and said the proposed museum and healing centre will play a critical part in Australia’s truth telling journey.

“Without truth telling there can be no healing,” said Uncle Widdy.

“Our pain must stop with us; this museum and healing centre will ensure what happened to Stolen Generations survivors will never be repeated. It will contribute to the rebuilding of our family structures and support the journey to lasting intergenerational healing across Australia,” he said.

Led by KBHAC, the campaign’s launch this Sorry Day is receiving essential support from CDC NSW, one of the largest private bus operators in the state.

CDC is showing its ongoing support for KBHAC’s truth telling and healing work by committing to a $750,000 partnership over three years. This will assist the not-for-profit with its rapid growth as one of the leading Stolen Generations Organisations in the country.

Unlocking the Past

KBHAC CEO, Dr Tiffany McComsey said reconciliation takes action and she welcomes CDC’s strong support.

“Our vision is for the museum to be built on a site of great historical significance for Australia – the former Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home property in Kempsey,” said Dr McComsey.

The property was a home run by the NSW Government between 1924 and 1970. In that period, it housed between 400 and 600 young Aboriginal boys forcibly removed from their families and made to assimilate into white Australian society.

KBHAC aims to raise $5 million through donations from businesses, organisations and the Australian public to purchase, repair and conserve the property, and build the envisioned living museum and healing centre.

A conservation management plan for the property has been developed by highly respected heritage specialist Alan Croker, who also developed the Sydney Opera House’s most recent conservation management plan.

Dr McComsey said that the site, historical records and the memories and stories of the home’s survivors – known as the Uncles – would provide tangible evidence of past government Assimilation policies and practices for the education and understanding of all Australians and to ensure that what happened to the Uncle and other Stolen Generations survivors never happens again.

“The property is a place of deep importance for the Uncles, their families and communities. The site and its associated places hold memories, both painful and otherwise, of their childhood after being kidnapped from their families,” said Dr McComsey.

Freeing the Future

Commenting on CDC’s long-term commitment to working with KBHAC, Dr McComsey said it was an example of the cross-community collaboration at the heart of reconciliation in action.

“Genuine collaboration and mutual support between people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and non-Indigenous communities is the only way forward. We need to work together towards the common goal of intergenerational healing,” she said.

CDC NSW CEO Edward Thomas said the organisation originally decided to assist KBHAC by maintaining its specially outfitted Mobile Education Centre (MEC), a retired commuter bus transformed for the purpose of raising awareness of the stories of Stolen Generations survivors.

“Since then, we’ve continued to become more involved. Our engineers have participated in designing and creating elements of the MEC and our drivers have driven the vehicle all over Sydney, the Central Coast and northwest NSW, helping get the Uncles out there in their truth telling journey,” Thomas said.

“Working alongside KBHAC has inspired us to commit to a three-year sponsorship program that will provide real benefits to their organisation, helping them to improve the social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing of the Stolen Generations who survived their time in the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home, as well as their descendants and families,” he said.

In addition to helping launch the campaign to build the truth telling museum, CDC will also be providing extensive careers and skills development opportunities for Indigenous candidates nominated by KBHAC and back-office support for the organisation.

These include apprenticeships and subsequent long-term employment opportunities with CDC, study tours of CDC sites, work experience, mentoring, on-the-job training and opportunities to attend courses relevant to their chosen field.

“At CDC we believe that all Australians will benefit from reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, aided by the promotion of a true account of Australian history and better opportunities to enter into the workforce. It also helps us, on a practical level, to build bridges with Aboriginal communities and help them to find a career path within our organisation,” he said.

“Partnering with KBHAC has been a learning experience for us at CDC. Every day we continue to learn more about Aboriginal culture and past experiences and how we can do our part to help achieve reconciliation,” Thomas said.