Penelope shares her story
Penelope’s story, sadly, is one told far too often in Australia. She is part of the Stolen Generations. Her very early years were spent at the Moore River Native Settlement before she was shifted to New Norcia Mission. As with many in similar circumstances, Penny’s life descended into one of alcohol abuse with her own six children also being taken away from their family. In between photographs, Penny shared tales of ill-treatment as a child, including sexual abuse, and alcohol-induced floggings and sleeping in public toilets as an adult. But Penny’s tale is also one of resilience.
She’d moved up to Carnarvon in 1969 where the cycle continued until she was sent to work on a station as “the wife’s right-hand-man”. It was truly a turning point for her. Without access to alcohol, Penny embraced her new life and the opportunity to learn all sorts of new skills.
Now living next door to the Pioneer Cemetery in Carnarvon, Penny is involved in the community. It seems that everyone I talked to knows and likes this lady, and it’s not hard to see why. She has dealt with the bitterness and grudges and is unbelievably positive and upbeat…and cheeky! Her warmth and humour, honesty and openness have carried her through. I said my goodbyes to Penny as her Silver Chain support worker arrived and as I walked to my car I could hear their shared laughter.