Image of William Tilmouth taken from Children’s Ground Facebook page
Recognition changes minds, save lives, and heals.
“There is no one to want me to say me my name” – Beloved by Toni Morrison (212-13)
Words from the Founding Chair of Children’s Ground, Arrernte man William Tilmouth, on Sorry Day 2020:
“Our kids need to grow up as Aboriginal children – with rights and opportunities, with a voice and the ability to control their own destination. I am a creation by others who decided they knew what was best for me. I am a product of being denied my identity, my family, my country, culture and my language. In the West, I am a success. I was the kid who came good.
What you see today you might think is acceptable but to me, it’s not. Why? Because I have spent a lifetime, along with my brothers and sisters, trying to rebuild and recapture all that was stolen and denied us. The tragedy of all that is that not one Aboriginal person escaped the policy that was then and still is in the mindset of decision makers today. Assimilation is just a heartbeat away in everything we aspire to achieve as a people.
I have a good command of English, but I cannot speak my own language. I have grandchildren, but I was denied my mother and father. Sometimes I don’t know where I belong or where I’m going – or who am I. That is a question that you are left with when you are stolen: who am I?
These days, my energy is on lifting the voice of my people and my families. Where the answers lie. At Children’s Ground, we see what can happen when you are culturally empowered – a whole community, family and kids are mobilised into taking ownership and control and being a part of their own destiny. Their participation guarantees success.
We do not want to see our children in jails, hospitals, homeless or in cemeteries. The status quo is simply denying them their fundamental rights; it is creating and embedding trauma.
If you allow us this space, we will not only re-build our own communities – we will build our nation. Because it will only be when our nation embraces First Nations people, history and knowledge that we can grow as a country.”
Hear more of William’s speech from Garma 2018 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE3uJ5AudeY
Please join William tonight in a virtual conversation alongside Jack Charles and Jo Willmot, as they reflect on their experiences of the Stolen Generation and how this continues to impact them, their families, their grandchildren, their communities and our country today. Book your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/105746223802