Eileen Cummings was raised by missionaries on remote Croker Island, off the Top End’s north coast, for decades unaware that her family was living just across the water.
“Years later we found that if I went across the bay (Van Diemen Gulf)… I would’ve got to my country, but in those days, we didn’t know where we were,” she said.
Now the chair of the NT Stolen Generations Corporation, Ms Cummings was four years old and living on Mainoru Station, halfway between Katherine and Nhulunbuy, when a native affairs officer took her from her family.
“They said to me, ‘You wanna come for a ride?’ I thought I was just going for a ride on the truck, so I jumped on the truck like all little children do,” she said.
Ms Cummings was kept in a police cell until other Aboriginal children from the area were picked up, and she eventually ended up at the Croker Island mission.
She’s one of 150 Stolen Generations members still alive in the NT who have sent letters to federal ministers calling for the Commonwealth to follow other states’ leads in creating a compensation scheme.
About 2,000 Aboriginal children in the NT were removed from their families by Government officers and taken to seven different missions between 1905 and 1969.