Mothers’ Day is this Sunday. For most of us it’s a day to spoil Mum with a gift or fancy lunch, or even just a long overdue phone call. But Mothers’ Day has a slightly deeper symbolism for many Australians.
You may already have seen Forget Me Not playing at Belvoir’s Upstairs Theatre. You may have read some of the reviews and audience reactions. You may have seen the Australian film Oranges and Sunshine. Or Rabbit Proof Fence. Or read any number of the books published about the forced removal and institutionalisation of children in Australia throughout the 20th century.
Mere weeks ago our Prime Minister offered a formal apology to those affected by the forced adoption policy upheld in Australia until approximately 1982. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made history in 2008 by formally apologising to Stolen Generations, and in 2009 to the Forgotten Australians, child migrants and non-Indigenous Australian children who were placed in institutions or outside their home setting during the 20th century.
Hundreds of thousands of children were forcibly removed from their families and institutionalised in Australia. Australia’s political slogan, immediately post-WWII, was: ‘the child, the best immigrant.’ This epitomised the intentions of the Australian government when it agreed to accept unaccompanied child migrants.
It is something of a national trend, albeit a troubling one. It is, if nothing else, a large and ongoing part of our history.
The senate committees report on Forgotten Australians, published in 2004, indicated that even those children with positive comments about their experience made note of the ‘lack of love, affection and nurturing’ in their upbringing. This is theme is powerfully explored in Colin Moody’s portrayal of former child migrant, Gerry, in Forget Me Not.
So this Mothers’ Day, while those of us are lucky to spoil our Mums, we will hold in our thoughts those mothers and children who aren’t able to be together on Mothers’ Day
Forget Me Not runs in the Upstairs Theatre until Sunday 19 May. Book tickets here.
Caitlin Scarr is Education Assistant and Publicity Intern at Belvoir
If you’re not busy having lunch with Mum, come along to our Sunday Forum:
Based on a True Story.
Between 1945 and 1968 over 3000 British children were taken from their families, told they were orphans and sent to Australia on a promise of warmth, fresh air, abundant food and boundless opportunity. Instead, they were sent to deprived institutions across the country where neglect and abuse were the norm. In 2011, Tom Holloway set out to write a play about the Child Immigration Scheme, the result is Forget Me Not, a portrait of a man on a journey to meet the mother he never knew.
This Sunday Forum will look at the sensitivities and ethics around telling true stories on stage. Director of Forget Me Not and Belvoir’s Literary Manager Anthea Williams will be joined by two leading Australian writers Angela Betzien (The Dark Room, The Tall Man) and Lachlan Philpott (Truck Stop, Silent Disco) to contemplate the differences between fiction and non-fiction, and the process of fictionalising truth.
Book your free ticket here.