Secrets We Keep
About Secrets We Keep
Amelia Oberhardt thought she knew her Mum... until she died. It was then Amelia discovered a photo revealing her mother, a teenager, with a wedding ring, an apparent husband, cuddling an unknown baby. Determined to find out more, Amelia's journey takes her into the secrets of 1950-1970s Australia—shotgun marriages, hushed abortions, and forced adoptions. It’s the story of what happens when young women are put in impossible situations, and where this messy knot leaves families decades later.
In researching the series, Amelia Oberhardt heard a shocking story about a Queensland abortion raid that showed another side of how women were treated in Australia’s not too distant past. Amelia finds out more about the options women had when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, the road to legalising abortion, and what happened one Monday morning in May 1985. Featured: Caroline de Costa – Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the College of Medicine at James Cook University Lorraine Smit – former counsellor and assistant, Children by Choice Judy Petroeschevsky – former counsellor, educator and co-ordinator, Children by Choice David Grunmann – Queensland surgeon See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Leonie Pope was taken from her mother as a baby in 1972, after her mother was coerced into signing forms that gave away her rights. Leonie and her siblings were all taken from their family, and are part of the Stolen Generations. Leonie was fostered and adopted to a Welsh family, and spent her childhood on the other side of the world, growing up in Wales. This is Leonie’s story of coming home. You’ll also hear from Dr Mary Graham, about her work to change the approach of child welfare agencies in Queensland. Gayaa Dhuwi: https://www.gayaadhuwi.org.au/if-you-need-help/ A spokesperson for the Mater Hospital said: 'Forced adoptions occurred in Queensland into the 1970s and were usually procured by social workers or departmental officers acting for the State Government, which issued a formal apology for the policy in 2012. Mater fully endorses the apology given by Catholic Health Australia in 2012 for the role that some Catholic hospitals and health services played in this widespread practice.’ The Mater didn't address questions about the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children during the 1940s-1980s.' Responding to questions about a redress scheme in Queensland for Stolen Generations survivors, a spokesperson for the Department of Treaty, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Communities and the Arts said: 'The Queensland Government recognises Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to experience the ongoing impacts of previous State and Commonwealth laws, policies and programs, including in relation to children. The Queensland Government is committed to improving the health and wellbeing outcomes of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples who experience disparity. We are doing this by restoring local decision-making authority and establishing place-based partnerships to ensure communities are leading the way as we work to Close the Gap.' See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
It’s a decade this year since Julia Gillard’s apology to those affected by forced adoption, but there’s still unfinished business. Now, it’s the adoptees picking up the baton and carrying on the fight for recognition, redress, and justice. Amelia speaks to two adoptees – Jennifer McRae and Danae Witherow – about how being taken from their mothers has affected their lives, and their push for an inquiry in Western Australia. Shakira Ramsdell explains what's happening in Victoria, the one state in the process of setting up a redress scheme. Forced Adoption Support Service: 1800 21 03 13 UPDATE: A spokesperson from the WA Department of Communities responded after deadline, writing 'formal integrated birth certificates [are] currently not available' but are being considered. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
At its peak in the early 1970s, almost 200 babies per week were adopted in Australia. It’s impossible to know how many of these adoptions involved coercion, but we do know that it was a time many believed single women were incapable of looking after their children. In this episode, Amelia Oberhardt looks at how this system was allowed to operate, and what lead to forced adoption ending. If you would like to share your story, email email@example.com Forced Adoption Support Service: 1800 21 03 13 Featured: Patricia Farrar - Mother, PhD Shurlee Swain - Emeritus Professor, Australian Catholic University See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Young, pregnant, unwed. What happened next is one of the most shameful periods in Australian history. Amelia Oberhardt speaks to two women who experienced a forced adoption – a broad term used to describe the various ways women were coerced into giving up their baby. Di Sheehan and Lily Arthur explain how stigma and a flawed system altered the course of their lives. If you would like to share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org Forced Adoption Support Service: 1800 21 03 13 See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Amelia Oberhardt flies to Cairns to meet the man in the photo, hoping to finally get the answer to a question that has haunted her for over a decade. Who is the baby in the photo? Knowing what happened to her mum, Amelia feels more resolve than ever to tell the stories of other women from her mother’s generation. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
In the aftermath of seeing the photo at the wake, Amelia Oberhardt is on a search to find the man in the photo. Her pursuit leads her down a rabbit hole, into the world of 1960s and 1970s Australia, and the realities of how women were treated in this era. And then, a new avenue provides new clues in the search for Michael. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Standing at her mother’s wake, journalist Amelia Oberhardt is confronted with a photo she’s never seen before - her mum Cecelia as a teenager wearing a wedding ring, accompanied by an unknown husband and cradling an unfamiliar baby. Immediately, Amelia begins to ask questions. Who is this man? Who is this baby? And does this photo explain Ceceila’s untimely death? See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
We’ve been inundated with responses and questions from you, with your stories from the forced adoption era. Dr Susan Green is a psychologist and adopted person and speaks to Amelia Oberhardt to answer questions about the psychological impacts of forced adoption. We’ll be back to our normal format next week. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Journalist Amelia Oberhardt thought she knew her mum, until she was confronted by a photo she’d never seen before at her mother’s wake. Seeing this photo sparks a journey into 1950s-1970s Australia, a time when women were forced to keep secrets. Shotgun marriages, hushed abortions and forced adoptions. It’s the story of a generation of women, who now with their children, are fighting for justice today. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.