Aunty Violet

Aunty Violet Williams is the eldest daughter and second eldest of nine children (six girls and three boys) to Clive and Ida Williams. She grew up in Casino (Bundjalung Country), where she attended school and lived in a makeshift, dirt-floor home on the banks of the Richmond River.

Her childhood was spent with family and friends in Casino where she said everyone joined together, whether they were Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal. She has many stories to tell of that time. The turtle season, when the Silky Oaks flower, was a special time.

Education was held in high regard. She remembers her father and Elders telling her that the only way to get ahead was through education. This was especially the case when she experienced racist treatment when she visited neighbouring towns where she had to move off the street to let the town people past and she was served at the back door of the shops.

When she was 15, the Protection Board took her and all the other 15-year-old girls along the coast to Sydney for ‘domestic duties’. They all lived in fear of the Protection Board, thinking that they were always being watched and would be taken away and locked up if they looked like they were trying to avoid their domestic duties. She went to a family at Bondi. She said they were a good family as she did not have to sit in the backyard to eat. She was paid £7 a week. She kept £1 for herself and sent the rest home to her family.

Aunty Violet followed her drive to learn, even managing to buy herself a long wooden surfboard when she was in Bondi. She enjoyed learning to ride it on Sundays (her day off) under the instruction of the local surfers.
At 18 years of age, she ran away from the city and rejoined her family, always being careful to avoid the Protection Board.

She is a valued member of the Nambucca Community, where she still promotes her belief in the importance of education. Her father set the example she follows. When he was not allowed to go into her school when she was young, his reply was, “my children come into this school and so will I too”. Her involvement in her children’s and grandchildren’s school communities, and indeed overall school community, is reflected in her unquestionable willingness to lead by example and to make herself available whenever called upon. When she was living in Sydney in more recent times, she and her husband Bob were called upon to give talks and lectures at Sydney University about their Aboriginal heritage.

Justifiably, Aunty Violet, is someone who has made a difference and continues to do so. She credits her drive and enthusiasm to her parents who valued education but who always reminded her, “you are our children, but the Protection Board owns you”.

Contributed by Gary Cattanach from Nambucca Heads High School published in 2015.