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Coral Oomera Edwards interviewed by Heather Rusden [sound recording]
Bib ID 2920581
Format AudioAudio [sound recording]
Edwards, Oomera (Coral Oomera), 1950-, Interviewee
Access Conditions Written permission required for research use and public use during the lifetime of interviewee. 
Description 1990 May 
3 sound tape reels (ca. 134 min.) : analog, 7 1/2 ips, two track, stereo ; 7 and 10 in. 

Coral Oomera Edwards, indigenous separated child and co-founder of the publication Link-Up to assist reuniting separated Aboriginal families, speaks about her removal from her Aboriginal family at age five months by the Aborigines Protection Board in 1950 and her placement, with her two sisters, at Cootamundra Girls' Home in New South Wales. She recalls the physical conditions, food, routines and role of the Home during her 16 years there. She also recalls the relationship between the girls and the townsfolk, Church attendance and Sunday School, the sense of sadness pervading the Home, her special relationship with the Matron who raised her, the level of despair she experienced at a certain point in time at Cootamundra and her exhilaration on leaving the institution in 1966. She talks about her four years' residence with the Matron, who had retired in 1966, and her marriage in 1970. She discusses her Aboriginality, her 28 years' denying its existence and the turning-point in her life that led her to accepting it with pride.

She describes her first reunion with her family at Tinga, NSW, in the late 1970s and her reunion with them in 1980,after she had embraced her Aboriginality. She discusses the film project about her life that she worked on as a film trainee with the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), and how her research into archival records made her more historically aware and more determined to learn about her Aboriginal identity. She recalls making the journey to Tinga with Peter Read, who was researching a PhD thesis, and also later visiting her mother at Newcastle, again accompanied by Read. She recalls her reunion with her mother and also talks about her continuing relationship with the former Matron of Cootamundra. Edwards recalls how the 1980 family reunion motivated her to help others to "get home again" and resulted in the formation, with Read, of the Link-Up organisation.

She discusses the formation of Link-Up, its early work, incorporation, funding, office in Canberra and development of Link-Up groups and similar bodies beyond New South Wales. She also discusses the grieving process as a central aspect of reuniting Aboriginal families, the main categories of people using Link-Up, problems arising from the mainstream portrayal of Aboriginal culture in exclusively traditional terms, and the differences between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal outlooks in terms of materialism and the separation of thinking from feeling. Returning to the topic of Cootamundra Home, she recalls games played there, forms of punishment, pocket money, books and daily routine. She offers an overview of the history of child removals in New South Wales and outlines the ways in which Link-Up expanded during the 1980s

She discusses the nature of grieving and grief counselling and describes the long-term nature of the "going home" process. She discusses the idea that the aim of Link-Up is to "make people whole again". The interview concludes with her explaining the reasons for her resignation from Link-Up after ten years' involvement, her desire to become a qualified grief counsellor, attitude to orthodox religions and her attitude to Link-Up in 1990


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are advised that this recording may contain names and voices of deceased persons.

Recorded on May 14-15, 1990.

Digital master available National Library of Australia

Index/Finding Aid Note Uncorrected transcript (typescript, 57 leaves) available. 
Subjects Edwards, Oomera (Coral Oomera), 1950- -- Interviews.  |  Read, Peter, 1945-  |  Link-up (Organisation)  |  Link-up.  |  Aboriginal Australians -- New South Wales -- Ethnic identity.  |  Aboriginal Australians -- New South Wales -- Removal.  |  Children, Aboriginal Australian -- New South Wales -- Cootamundra -- Treatment.  |  Families, Aboriginal Australian -- New South Wales.  |  Children, Aboriginal Australian -- Institutional care -- New South Wales -- Cootamundra.  |  Child welfare - Child / parent separation - Stolen generations.  |  Child welfare - Children's homes.  |  Cootamundra (SW NSW SI55-11).
Other authors/contributors Rusden, Heather, 1948-, Interviewer


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    Special Collections Reading Room
    ORAL TRC 2579 (transcript)
    Copy: Transcript
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    Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and other First Nations people are advised that this catalogue contains names, recordings and images of deceased people and other content that may be culturally sensitive. Please also be aware that you may see certain words or descriptions in this catalogue which reflect the author’s attitude or that of the period in which the item was created and may now be considered offensive.