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The Kids Aren't Alright

It took me a long time to realise how much of my life was concerned with the plight of young people in our society. Once I did, it was a very small step to take to accept that the reason for that lifelong involvement was very closely tied in with what I want/need to be doing during this lifetime.

To explain that, I guess I need to go into my own childhood a bit. We weren't exactly your average family. With American television firmly entrenched in the life of a lot of Australians by the late 50s, early 60s, the happy families that were constantly portrayed as the norm seemed to become something to hide behind for those whose lives did not unfold in the same manner. The word 'divorce' was actually 'disgrace' spelt differently. It was not really openly acknowledged, let alone discussed in a little country town. At least, it wasn't amongst the people I knew. When it 'happened' to my family, it was whispered about amongst the other school children, who could bring themselves only to call it a 'D' rather than speaking the word out loud & giving it any more reality than needed. So I guess that when my mother took in children from other struggling families there was a certain amount of empathy already there in my easy acceptance of the newcomers. It was a learning experience that I didn't even realise was happening until well into my adult years. But it was one that has stayed with me, kinda like a light in the window - it's there as a guide & a beacon.

I was 'almost 13' when we left that town. Moving into a boys' home seemed quite natural somehow. I was used to being one of the boys .... now I had 23 brothers instead of 3. They seemed to me to be no different, these boys from scattered & scarred homes who were now under the care of my mother & new stepfather. I was frustrated at the attitude shown them by many at the local school we all attended. I knew that without the strength of my mother, I too would be living in a children's home instead of my own.