The founding of ARMS (Vic) part 1

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My first child was taken from me in October of 1972, when I was 17 and 2 months old. I went into a prolonged state of frozen shock, left my home town of Brisbane and came to Melbourne where, seven years later, I had my next child. In 1980 I joined the Council for the Single Mother and her Child (CSMC) and it was there that I slowly came out of the shock. Most instrumental in that were two extraordinary women, Trisha and Rosemary, both of whom had endured the pressure of being single and pregnant and had managed to keep their children. With the organisation they had established (Council for the Single Mother and Child) they had won the battle for the Supporting Parents' Benefit to be made available to women who had not been married. They nurtured me emotionally and educated me through the writing of policy designed to protect women who were being pressured to place their child for adoption.

On a slow emotional journey and by working to gain rights for single (never married) mothers, I learned to face what had happened to me and accept that it was not my fault and that the strongest of social organisations had been marshalled against me to ensure I didn't mother my first child. It was an impossible force for a lone 17 year old to fight the combination of the Church, the government, the hospital, social workers, society and my family. While I grieved, I worked like a fiend trying to stop myself from having too much time to think.

Courtesy of mothers Marie and Jo, ARMS.

 

Thirty years after we started, through the Victorian and National Apologies, we have finally had recognised that our personal prison was built by political and social forces and not by our own hands.