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The South Australian 2019 Annual Christmas Luncheon

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We had a reasonable turn-up of 20 people who filled the room at the Caledonian Hotel in north Adelaide. The food and service were good as always there.

Importantly, during recent years we’ve tried to encourage member’s partners to join us by having a speaker who presents on a non-technical topic of interest to both those involved in Building Services and their partners.

This year we had Geoff Cooper; now an Australian Indigenous Elder for the law courts of South Australia and Board member of the Aboriginal Veterans of South Australia as speaker.

Geoff’s story started at the age of nine. He was one of the [what is now termed] Stolen Generation. He was taken from his classroom at Goolwa, SA by the Headmaster and an official and told that he was going to a party. The ‘party’ started with shaving his head and dousing with kerosene and being clothed for Court. He noted that the two ‘toddlers’ were simply sent somewhere else and the whole family was broken up.

The Court committed him to State Care at Glandore for around two years (along with youth offenders!).

He was then fostered until he was 18. At one stage he ran away; and was flogged for doing so!

He was emphatic in stating that he had no animosity toward what happened to him or the people concerned.

At 18 he left foster-care and after several jobs, Geoff joined the Army which he considered became his family. He was at one stage stationed in Central Australia. One Christmas after being flown to Perth, he and a mate were driving to Melbourne via Adelaide (as you do).

In Adelaide he was billeted at Northfield Hospital and due to someone else’s chance conversation met his elder sister, uncle and auntie. This brought together much of his lost family who came together to meet him and re-connect.

He also talked about other chance meetings and the bonds that aboriginal people have.

Geoff’s talk wasn’t so much about the doom and gloom of what happened to him and many other aboriginal people but about the people and friends he’d met along the way and family he’d reconnected with.

In an interview in 2004 for the SA Migration Museum, he states – “The reason I am doing this, as we have discussed before is so my daughter has got something that says this is Dad’s life, even though she knows. There are a lot of people out there who just don’t really know what happened.

You can read a transcript of and interview with Geoff Cooper at –


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