By Siobhan McHugh
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Just the fact that this was our home—that was the really fantastic thing, I think. It must have been absolutely wonderful for my mother to have it. Because until then, we’d been in a hostel called Bradfield Park. English migrants came there, and Australians who had nowhere to live and were after Housing Commission homes . . It was actually a very beautiful area, at the back of Lindfield, trees and all that, where we used to play. We lived there anywhere from nine to eighteen months. I know I was definitely four there, I know I went to kindergarten there.
After we got in there someone [Aboriginal] came running down the street and said, ‘How did you get in the house before me? ’ I said I just put it in. He said, ‘That’s a bit raw. ’ [We were] acceptable because we were fair, you see. 40 storm04 13/8/07 9:33 Page 41 Hate Street Even today, those people in the street, I don’t talk to them . . I look upon them as people that were judging me before they even knew me. At the time there were only about eight Aboriginal families in the town, which Marie Byrne remembers as a conservative grazier enclave.
Six months ago Toni took up part-time work, but Braithe started getting his medication wrong and playing up. Toni thinks it’s his way of seeking attention, telling her he needs her to be around. She’s decided to postpone work for another year, when he starts high school. In the meantime, she has joined the board of Pacific Link as a tenant representative. I always said to myself as I was going through all the court battle and receiving all this assistance and guidance from different people in government organisations and departments that one day I’d like to give a little bit back to the commmunity.