Port Lincoln family share Stolen Generation experience in exhibition

FAMILY: Standing in front of artwork on display for 'Resilience' are Belinda Richards, Renee Richards, Jenna Richards, Emma Richards (artist) and Lavinia Richards. Photo: Jarrad Delaney
FAMILY: Standing in front of artwork on display for 'Resilience' are Belinda Richards, Renee Richards, Jenna Richards, Emma Richards (artist) and Lavinia Richards. Photo: Jarrad Delaney

An exhibition launched during the SALT Festival has showcased the experiences of a local Aboriginal family and the challenges it had overcome over many decades, including effects of the Stolen Generation.

'Resilience' is an exhibition that was launched in the Nautilus Arts Centre media room on April 20 and recounts the experiences of the Richards family in Port Lincoln.

The Richards family, who are a part of the Barngarla nation, had members who were a part of the Stolen Generation, as Aboriginal children were forcibly moved away from their family and country.

The family's experiences are told through art, photos, letters and historical records which have been put on display to provide people the full picture of what they went through and what lasting effects the Stolen Generation had on them.

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Emma Richards said this exhibition came about from a recent family meeting and an idea that that the family needed to come together, share stories and start healing.

She said the SALT Festival provided the right time and platform for this and provided a chance to bring the family together and start the process of healing through sharing and arts.

"The Resilience exhibition is based on our family's story and is part of the Stolen Generation which happened between 1910 and the 1970s where many children were forcibly removed from their families by the government as a result of policies at the time," she said.

"This happened to our family right here in Port Lincoln as chidlren were taken from the Mallee Park Reserve, now known as Mallee Park Football Club area."

Ms Richards said her father, Fred Richards, was the second eldest of his family and one day while in Whyalla attending an interview for school, he returned to find all his brothers and sisters were taken away.

She said even when they returned the impacts lingered and things were never the same.

"So much pain, suffering and heartache comes from children being removed and not being with family and community," she said.

"After mnay years of suffering our family has decided we need to heal this pain and break the cycle of trauma, hurt, deep grief and loss so our future generations can have a bigger, brighter, stronger future and draw on the strength of our family's resilience."

The exhibition includes a video created by local ABC journalist Jodie Hamilton-Reid which includes interviews with members of the Richards family, including Lavinia, Elizabeth and David Richards as well as the late Howard and Brenton Richards.

Brenton's daughter Jenna Richards said her father was a member of the Stolen Generation and was an avid collector of historical facts, written and pictorial.

She said before he died he was able to get his welfare record and some of the letters and documents from within his file was used in the exhibition.

"All letters from Dad and his sisters were written between them and each other and other family members, sadly this would be one of their only forms of communication while they were away from home and family," she said.

"After our Dad passed we continued adding to his evolving collection and we do hope that everyone manages to view all material contained within the exhibition over the next six days."

The Richards family thanked Ms Hamilton-Reid for the video, which was well received at the opening, which also saw a special guest in South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

The exhibition will be on display in the media room until Sunday and afterwards will be on display at the Port Lincoln Library for the benefit of school groups.

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