Elly Chatfield is the first to admit she had a very loving childhood.
“I had every opportunity,” she says. “My adopted dad was amazing. My adopted mum, when I was a small child she was wonderful – she made all our clothes… cooked everything from scratch.
“If I couldn’t be with my family, this was a perfect place for me to be.”
When Elly was 14 months old, she, along with all but one of her four siblings, was taken from her birth parents under instruction from the Aborigines Welfare Board.
The Gamilaroi woman was raised by foster parents in the western Sydney suburb of Merrylands.
With no knowledge of her Aboriginal heritage, Elly often wondered why she looked so different from her foster parents.
As an 18-year-old she was walking to Business College one day when she saw a boy whose appearance more resembled her own.
“I used to walk past this park,” Elly, now 56, remembers.
“This one Aboriginal boy used to say ‘Hi sis, how you doin’?’ and I’d go ‘Hey bro’.
“I’d go home and I’d say to my adopted parents, ‘You know there’s this boy in the park with some mates and he always says hello – he looks a bit like me…?’”
Her foster parents claimed to know nothing about him.
For the next year, Elly continued to wave to the boy across the road.
What she didn’t know, was that he was her elder brother. The same brother, taken from the same parents, at the same Aboriginal camp in Moree on November 3, 1960.
Elly never did meet the boy across the road.
And she never will.
The boy across the road took his own life a few decades later.
Elly will never know why.