As part of National Reconcilation Week, Bunbury TAFE students got to hear a first-hand account of what it is like to be part of the Stolen Generation.
South West resident Levon Ennis is one of many Indigenous Australian children who was forcibly removed from his family as a result of government policies between 1910 and 1970.
“I was basically taken from my mother at birth,” he said.
“My mother was told I was a stillborn and apparently I’m buried in Manly Sydney.
“I was a ward of the state and then I was sent to London to an English family.”
Growing up as an only child in London, Mr Ennis always felt like there was a part of him that was missing.
“I went to a very privileged private school, I suffered a lot of bullying but part of me knew I was part of something bigger,” he said.
“I sort of knew from an early age I was adopted, in this time I was trying to find a family unit that a lot of people have growing up with their families.
“I took a wrong path in life and it was my own fault, but I felt this connection and I ended up joining a gang in London.”
He said he found acceptance in a gang in London but went to prison for drug, weapons and violent offences.
“I did 12 years for what I did and the pain that I caused to people,” Mr Ennis said.
“When I went inside I realised this wasn’t me and whilst I was incarcerated my adopted mother in England started doing a lot of research, into organisations that were looking into the stolen generation and that was around 1997.
“When I was released and finished my parole period and got myself together and shook off a bit of the depression and downtrodden that I was feeling, I came back here to Australia with the support of a few Aboriginal agencies.
“What we eventually found is what we possibly think is my family, there are still a lot of question marks with birth certificates and names, dates wrong, incorrect and lost documentation, so the whole cover-up situation was pretty immense.”
Reconciliation Week runs from May 27 to June 3 and celebrates two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey, the 1967 referendum, and the Mabo decision.