‘Forgotten’ orphan shuns apology
CYNTHIA Bultitude will never forget the terrible things that happened to her when she was in the North Coast Children’s Home, but she believes a planned apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a waste of time.
The 64-year-old South Tweed Heads woman spent 10 years of her childhood being abused in a Lismore orphanage, making her just one of the more than 500,000 “Forgotten Australians”.
The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will formally apologise, on behalf of the nation, on November 16 to the Forgotten Australians and more than 7000 former child migrants.
The apology will acknowledge the abuse and neglect suffered by many of these children.
“What’s it (an apology) going to do? He’s (Rudd) not going to take the hurt away,” Ms Bultitude said.
“How can he mean it? He never went through it. He doesn’t know how we were treated, abused, starved.”
Ms Bultitude was placed in the North Coast Children’s home with her five siblings when she was five years old.
“My mother died giving birth and dad couldn’t cope,” she said.
“I would rather forget those years, but it is very hard as I still remember all the cruel things Matron Martin did to me and other kids.
“We weren’t allowed to be kids.”
From 1951 to 1959 Ms Bultitude lived under the rule of Matron Martin.
“She was more like a monster. We were always told we were worthless, ugly and no one wanted us.
“If anyone wet the bed she rubbed our faces in the wet sheets.
“We didn’t have a good education as they couldn’t be bothered with us.”
Proper fitting shoes and hot meals were a luxury to the orphans.
“We never had toilet paper, we had newspaper that was torn into squares and hung on a wire hook.
“Kids were always sick.
“At times we were so hungry that my sister and I would pick sour grass that grew near the church and eat it.
“We had no birthdays and only a small Christmas with broken toys.”
Ms Bultitude’s experiences in the orphanage haunted her upbringing and still have an impact on her life.
“I have no self-esteem today.
“It stays with you. You can’t get rid of the memories.”