Welcome to my blog

Congratulations and welcome to friends, family and others who have found something of interest in my blog. The reason that I have created this blog is to share some of my experiences regarding my own journey of writing and publishing my autobiography. I am really excited and motivated about this whole process. I hope that what I write about is interesting to you and thank you for your encouragement and support.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Apology - Acknowledgement of the 3rd Anniversary

Today I was asked to give a speech at Nunkuwarrin Yunti SA Inc. for the the SA Link-Up Program on my experience of The National Apology as acknowledgement of the 3rd Anniversary.

I have provided most of my speech here on this blog, but because some of it was directly from chapters in my book, I have had to remove those parts.  

Sorry guys it was one of those moments when "you had to be there!"

Traditional owner’s acknowledgement

I would like to acknowledge the land that we meet on today is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and that we respect their spiritual relationship with the country. 
I also acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the Adelaide region and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people.

Acknowledgement of you and your story

Today I have been asked to share my story life and yes my story is probably a similar story to that of many other Aboriginal children who were removed from their birth families.  However, even though the policies that lead to the removal of many Aboriginal children were the same, the outcomes of our lives are quite varied and have resulted in a range of individual experiences. 
It is my story that I wish to share with you today and it may not be the worst or the best life story that you have ever heard, but it is my story.  I do not want to compare myself with anyone else; as I believe everyone’s story is as valuable and as significant as the next.  
What I am hoping for today is that through sharing my story that you may see the similarities of our stories and together we can heal.

Who am I?

Who you are?
What’s your name?
Where you from?
Who’s your mother?
Who’s your father?

I hate those words.  Yet they are some of the most commonly used words within Aboriginal communities across Australia and they are words that I am forever being asked. 
I know so many of us wish it was easier to answer the “who you are and where you from?” question, but no matter how much family history research, how many relatives you make contact with, how many brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles or cousins you meet, no matter how hard you try to make those reconnections, you may never be able to answer these questions to the satisfaction of others.  

There are just too many gaps and too much missing information.  I also know that I can’t expect to gain that knowledge through a quick visit back to my country or even after having a quick reunion with some of my family.  

Trying to explain this to someone who hasn’t been removed from their family or community is very difficult.  They don’t understand why I don’t know all about my family and they take it for granted that everyone else should know this too. Often as a result, I feel a deep sense of guilt, as though it is my duty to find out, just to satisfy them.  So to any of you fulla’s out there who already know who you are and where you’re from please keep in mind that some of us are still searching for those answers.

So what I will try and do now is tell you what I do know about “Who I am and where I am from?”

My name is Joy Makepeace and I have lived in Adelaide for the past 24 years.  I am Aboriginal and I am adopted to a white family.  I am 38 years old and I have 3 children.

I currently work at the University of South Australia in the Indigenous Student Services Unit at Mawson Lakes and have done for the past 9 years, but previous to that I was a Caseworker with the SA Link-Up Program.  

My Story

I was born Joyce Lee West and my birth mother was Joan Margaret West.  She was an Aboriginal woman who was born in Goodooga, which is in New South Wales, in Kamilaroi country.  I was born in a small country town in NSW, called Wee Waa.  I was the ninth born of twelve children…  (removed text)

It wasn’t until I got into my teenage years that I really even began to question my identity and started to really wonder about those plaguing questions of who I really was and where I was from.  It is these two questions that continually haunted me.  It is finding the answer to “Who am I?” that has guided me towards writing my autobiography which is called “Finding the joy within”.  Writing my book has been my own personal journey of healing, which I will talk more about, a bit later.  (removed text)

All of the above stuff was probably the most trying time of my life, but at the same time it was also the most extremely healing time of my life.  Having had these experiences has opened many doors and challenged me and made me grow.

This pretty much brings me to the point that I am at now.  My book which is called “Finding the joy within” it is not only the story of my life, but it covers the lessons that I have learnt along the way.  It takes a close look at where I have been, what I have learnt and where I want to go.  The main theme of the book is the theme of my life, which has been my search for my true identity.
A couple of months ago, I decided that I would start to promote my book through a blog, which is like a website.  It was an article on my blog about “The National Apology” that lead SA Link-Up to contact me to see if I would come to talk with you about my experience of attending the National Apology in Canberra back in 2008.

What it was like for you to be at Parliament House when Hon. Keven Rudd gave his National Apology speech

I have written about this experience in my book and what I now want to do share part of this chapter from my book.  

Now to give you a bit of background my book is written in past, present and future tense.  The chapter that I’m reading from is called “Bitterness and Resentment”, which is what I was feeling before I went to Canberra for the National Apology.  I thought that everyone owed me an apology and I didn’t really expect to feel any different after I had heard the National Apology.  I will now read what I have written and let you make your own mind up about my experience of the National Apology.  (removed text)

Where to now?  

The SA Link-Up staff wanted me to cover a bit about what I have learnt about healing and what it means to me!

The main thing that I have learnt about healing is that healing requires forgiveness, which starts with the word “sorry”. 

Now I know that this Nation and all of us had been waiting for so many years for that moment to happen and many of us said “I’ll be happy when … the government says sorry to us.”
Now that the Government has said sorry, many of us are saying “I’ll be happy when …. we get compensation,” which is valid and I know that many people are still fighting for this.  However, what I want you to know is that there is a huge list of “I’ll be happy whens …” and I must admit that I am one of those people that used to live by this list. 

Here are some of my previous “I’ll be happy whens!” and while I’m reading mine, perhaps you can think about some of yours!

I’ll be happy when!

I’ll be happy when I finish high school!

I’ll be happy when I find a boyfriend!

I’ll be happy when I find my family!

I’ll be happy when I move out of home!

I’ll be happy when I finish Uni!

I’ll be happy when I get a job!

I’ll be happy when I get a new car!

I’ll be happy when I buy a house!

I’ll be happy when I get married!

I’ll be happy when I travel overseas!

I’ll be happy when I have a baby!

I’ll be happy when I get out of hospital!

I’ll be happy when I get better!

I’ll be happy when I get back to work!

I’ll be happy when I have a holiday!

I’ll be happy when I get divorced!

I’ll be happy when I find my freedom!

I’ll be happy when I settle down!

I’ll be happy when I have more children!

I’ll be happy when I finish my Masters!

I’ll be happy when I work out who I am!

I’ll be happy when I finish my book!

I’ll be happy when I FINISH THIS SPEECH!

So many of us spend so much time worrying about overcoming the next hurdle in our lives that we just forget to live in the present moment!  By doing this we miss the full experience of life, we miss all of the lesson that life has for us and we miss feeling good RIGHT NOW!  All the time we are worrying about the past, or worrying about the future and by doing this we can’t be fully present in the moment that counts the most, which is right NOW!

My favourite quote!

So my next and final slide for today is “my favourite quote,” which I try to live by everyday and every moment.
"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift.  That's why it's called the present!"
Bil Keane 
This speech has been my gift to you and I hope that what you take away from it may never be taken away from you again.

Thank you!


  1. I was hoping that you would put up a blog about your speech for the anniversary :) I was hoping to be there for the event but unfortunately was away sick, but since coming back to work all i've heard about is how wonderful and powerful your speech was. Well done!! :)

  2. Dear Lorelle,

    Yes I was thinking of you on the day, but knew you were unwell. As you can see I took out all the juicy bits from my speech as I want to save them for my book. Would love to add any feedback comments (anonymously)that you got from the day to these comments. Thanks you again for the recommendation, it is greatly appreciated. xoxox