Colebrook Home began with the 'United Aborigines' Mission in 1924 in Dunjiba (Oodnadatta), South Australia. Then in 1926 it was transferred to Quorn in the Flinders Ranges, with 12 children in the care of Sisters Ruby Hyde and Delia Rutter. In 1942 they moved to Eden Hills and stayed until 1952.
The succession of superintendents who followed at Colebrook enforced a strict discipline. Many children were to suffer from this harsh regime. Having been removed from their families and land ties, because of the government's policy on assimilation, some were never to see their parents again. In 1972 the Department of Community Welfare took on the responsibility of caring for the children until Colebrook Home was closed. In 1973 it was finally demolished.
Colebrook Reconciliation Park is now a memorial to these children and their families. Through the untiring efforts of the Colebrook Tjitji Tjuta, the Blackwood Reconciliation Group, the Aboriginal Lands Trust, and other groups and agencies, to remember the Aboriginal children of the Stolen Generation, the 'Fountain of Tears' and the 'Grieving Mother' statues, sculpted by Silvio Apponi, have been created.
The Blackwood Reconciliation Group and the Colebrook Tji Tji Tjuta
The group began in 1994 in the Blackwood Library as a Reconciliation Study Group. In 1996 the group held its first fund raiser, a poetry night at Blackwood High School, featuring Graham Jenkin (author of Conquest of the Ngarrindjeri) and Heather Shearer, Aboriginal artist and former student at Blackwood High School.
That night was a success in education of all participants, and in the unexpected meeting with the Tjitji Tjuta. These former residents of the Colebrook Children's Home spent their childhoods in Eden Hills and came to see what was going on. Some of those we encountered that night were Amy Levai, former teacher of Belair and Eden Hills students and Avis Gale, hostel manager.
After much growth and planning together, the 1997 community gathering was held at the now Colebrook Reconciliation Park on Shepherds Hill Road. It happened that the Bringing Them Home Report had just been released. Many people of the Blackwood area in particular went along to the gathering to express their concern and their support for the Aboriginal people.
Supported by Mitcham Council, the group arranged a sausage sizzle for 500 people and were astonished to see three times that number turn up, maybe more. This day of speeches, homecomings and entertainment was well received. Donations buckets over flowed and a new base of supportive people were gained. All interested were able to participate in newly organised study circles to facilitate their own course in Aboriginal studies.
A journey towards the monuments was taken by people on the day to honour and understand the children who were taken from their families and lands and placed in children's homes like the Colebrook Home. The Fountain of Tears was created in 1998 by Silvio Apponyi and the Grieving Mother in 1999. On the journey the group has formed working and caring relationships with one another and achieved a very special place on the site of the old Home.
Nowadays, the former residents hold 'campfire' gatherings for adult groups and for school and university students. They share their stories and achieve reconciliation through creation of compassion and empathy. It is hoped these are the steps towards true Aboriginal acceptance into mainstream society and its opportunities for fulfilment of self.
Address: Shepherds Hill Road (next to Karinya Reserve), Eden Hills.
Admission: Free. Visits can be self guided or can be arranged for groups.
Guest speakers can be organised for a fee.
For information on Colebrook Tji Tji Tjuta and the Blackwood Reconciliation Group please email email@example.com,visit @BlackwoodReconciliationGroup or contact Yvonne Caddy 0421 857 471.