Plaque remembers history

Hepburn Shire Council has commissioned the installation of a memorial in Daylesford’s Burke Square to promote public awareness of the trauma caused by forced adoption, which was prominent in the period between 1958 and the early 1970s.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Resident Lyn Kinghorn petitioned for the plaque and seat to be installed in Daylesford. It is the first of its kind to be commissioned by a council in Victoria. Photo: Kate Healy

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: Resident Lyn Kinghorn petitioned for the plaque and seat to be installed in Daylesford. It is the first of its kind to be commissioned by a council in Victoria. Photo: Kate Healy

Forced adoption policies and practices were widespread across Australia, particularly in Victoria, during the aforementioned period. 

A landmark inquiry, presented by the Federal Senate in 2012, found up to 250,000 babies were forcibly removed from their young, unmarried mothers. As a result of the report, an apology was made to those affected by the policy by the state of Victoria on October 10, 2012 by then premier Ted Baillieu. A national apology was delivered by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard on March 21, 2013. The report contained a number of recommendations, including that the history be widely published.

Daylesford resident Lyn Kinghorn said she, as a member of the Independent Regional Mothers of Victoria, wanted the “planned systematic abduction,” which she endured as a teenager to be more widely acknowledged. As such, she created a petition for a memorial to recognise what had occurred. The petition was signed by more than 240 people and unanimously accepted by council.

“What prompted me to start this process was when I attended last year’s International Women’s Day event where the Indigenous stolen generation was discussed… The stolen generation deserves recognition but there is a large white stolen generation that is unheard of, that people just don’t know about.”

Ms Kinghorn said the “infuriating, horrible” history of forced adoption had been largely ignored and through the process of writing and getting signatures for her petition, she had met other women who had also been traumatised by the policy.

“This occurred in our major public and private hospitals and mother’s homes. Once their commodity was delivered, we were immediately disposed of, told never to tell anyone, bullied into believing it was our own fault and deserving punishment,” she said. “Thus protecting the crimes committed against us. Our hope is that those viewing this, who are affected by this treatment, will feel some relief from the shame imposed, now the crime is exposed.”

“A lot of women still live with the trauma, which has carried on to their later relationships because they were so devalued.”

Ms Kinghorn found her daughter 32 years ago but said the process of finding her was “torturous” and the wound of the time stolen from her would never heal.

However, she said, “life is much healthier when you can live with the truth”.

If this story has affected you, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.