Not-for-profit Kinchela Boys Home Aboriginal Corporation (KBHAC) and bus company CDC NSW launched a fundraising campaign on Sorry Day (May 26) to build the country’s first national truth telling museum and healing centre in Kempsey, NSW, for survivors of the Stolen Generations and their families and communities.
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.
KBHAC Chairperson, Uncle James Michael ‘Widdy’ Welsh (Uncle Widdy) is calling 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.
KBHAC aims to raise $5 million to build the museum on a site of historical significance for Australia – the former Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Training Home property in Kempsey.
This property was a home run by the NSW Government between 1924 and 1970 when it housed between 400 and 600 young Aboriginal boys forcibly removed from their families and made to assimilate into white Australian society.
The museum will document the experiences and abuse suffered by children at Kinchela Boys Home and encourage healing through truth telling.
KBHAC CEO, Dr Tiffany McComsey said that the Kempsey 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,” she said.
Commitment to reconciliation
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,” Mr 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.
“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,” Mr Thomas said.
For more information or to donate towards making Australia’s first national truth telling museum a reality, see kinchelaboyshome.org.au.