Humans of the Wheatbelt

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a disability project that celebrates inclusion within the community.

There is always someone in each story that has a disability whether it is the human, interviewer, photographer or writer.

I was born in Kumalling, which is what Goomalling used to be called before they changed the name. I wasn’t born in the hospital either; I was born out in the bush. According to the so-called government of the day, our ancestors weren’t allowed in hospitals. My parents were both born in New Norcia. I had four brothers but now I only have one of them left.

I was six and my younger brother was four when we got picked up by the police on the 10th of November 1951. My dad used to go to New Norcia to see his brothers and go hunting. Mum sent my brother and I to the shop one day and on the way back there were two bobtails crossing the road, a mother and baby. We got the bobtails off the road just before a truck went past. A voice said, ‘what do you think you’re doing?’ There were two policemen standing there. My brother came and hid behind me. The policemen told us to come with them and they took us to the mission. When we got there, they ran the bell and a couple of nuns came out. The policemen left my brother crying in the car. When Dad found out what had happened, he went up there with his gun and said to the nuns, ‘if I find a mark on my daughter I’m going to shoot you.’ When the nuns were racist to me I back chatted them. When they asked me if I wanted the strap, I said, ‘you keep it, it’s yours.’

At the mission, St Joseph’s was for the girls and St Mary’s was for the boys. We used to have about two thousand chooks up the back of the yard. One day when it was my and another girl’s turn to be in the kitchen, the sister asked us to go get some eggs and told us that the baskets were up there already. The sister at the chook yard asked us if we brought the baskets and we said we were told they were here. We decided to carry the eggs in our skirts but the sister said ‘put your skirts down!’ We did and all the eggs smashed. Luckily there were more eggs. There were a lot of girls at the mission. We used to go out for walks on Sundays and in the summer we’d catch gilgies in the river. When we got back, the sister would cook them up for us but she wouldn’t eat them.

There were girls put in the mission when they were babies. As they grew up, they didn’t know any family. Even with the boys it was the same thing. I blame the government of the day because they said that all Aboriginal children had to be taken away and raised as white kids. My brother and I were lucky that our parents took us home on weekends, so we learned our culture, but others didn’t. Some of them never saw their parents again and some of the parents didn’t know where their kids had gone. When we were there we weren’t allowed to speak Nyoongar. They told us it was the language of the devil.

My husband and I were married for fifty-two and a half years until he passed away following a car accident. We shouldn’t have gone to Northam that day. About fifteen k’s out of Northam—I’d dozed off long before that—he must have dozed off too. When I opened my eyes, our car was half on the bitumen and half on the gravel. I asked him what happened and he said he didn’t know, so I think he must have fallen asleep. He tried to get the car going again and we span around three times and hit a tree. The bonnet came up and the radiator was damaged. People came to help us and called an ambulance, which took my husband to the hospital in Northam. He was in hospital eleven days and died there on the 18th of October 2016.

I’ve lived in Wyalkatchem for fifty-one years and I’ve seen the town change in that time. When we came here, we didn’t need to go anywhere else for shopping because everything was here. I always wanted to be a teacher, and even though I never got a qualification I did teach my own culture and language. I still teach my grandsons how to make damper. It’s important for Aboriginal people to stay connected with their culture.

Human - Veralyn Davis
Interviewer – Shannon Boundry
Photographer - Shannon Boundry
Writer – Guy Salvidge

Humans of the Wheatbelt is a Wheatbelt Health Network project.

Wyalkatchem, Western Australia Shire of Wyalkatchem Mia Davies MLA Bilya Koort Boodja 100.9fm Noongar Radio Noongar Language Centre Ken Wyatt


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NORTHAM

Wheatbelt Health Centre
25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8am-6pm Mon – Fri

Aboriginal Health - Northam
65 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9690 2824

Therapy Plus
104 Wellington Street, Northam
Phone: 08 9621 4444

TOODYAY

Alma Beard Medical Centre
81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay
Phone: 08 9578 2500
Open: 8.30am – 5pm Mon – Fri

WUNDOWIE

Wundowie Health Centre
GP Services
283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie
Phone: 08 9621 4444
Open: 8.30am – 4pm Wednesdays

NARROGIN

Aboriginal Health - Narrogin
Williams Road, Narrogin
Phone: 08 9881 0385
Open: 8.30am – 4.30pm Mon – Tues

After hours medical assistance: In an emergency call 000 or present to your nearest Regional Hospital emergency department. If you have a non- emergency and would like to consult with a GP then call Telstra Health on 1800 225 523. The service is free to access for Australian residents who reside in the wheatbelt or who are temporarily residing in the Wheatbelt. This service can be accessed before 8am and after 6pm Monday-Friday, before 8am and after 12pm Saturday and all day Sunday and any Public Holidays. Thank you to Western Australia Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) for funding this service.

  • 25 Holtfreter Avenue, Northam

  • 81 Stirling Tce, Toodyay

  • 65 Wellington Street, Northam

  • Williams Road, Narrogin

  • 283 Boronia Ave, Wundowie

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