‘They were told they were going to the circus’



Kamilaroi woman and Noosa Branch Manager Lou Lasker.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website may contain images and voices of people who have passed away. Family members have given NAB permission for names and images to be used.

Kamilaroi woman Lou Lasker has thrived in banking and is now managing NAB’s Noosa branch, but things weren’t so smooth when Lou was growing up in NSW.

Lou credits her Mum, her friends and their parents for helping her to build a happy and successful life.

“My Mum, my friend’s parents, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, they supported me 100%,” she said.

In the final few weeks of his life, Lou’s dad, aged 59, revealed more about his experiences as a part of the Stolen Generation.

Lou’s maternal grandmother passed away when her dad was four, leaving Lou’s grandad with eight children.

“Two years later the authorities took my dad and his seven brothers and sisters away from their home. They told them they were going to see a circus,” Lou said.

“They were put on a train from Quirindi. At stops all along the way to Woolongong each different brother or sister was taken off the train. They were all split up across different childrens’ homes where sexual and physical abuse was a regular occurrence,” Lou said.

“It’s something that my dad didn’t talk about because of the hurt and trauma.  Now that I’m older, I’ve started to reflect on how that impacted on my dad and the choices he made,” Lou said.

Friday 26 May is National Sorry Day, a day for Australians to remember and acknowledge the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities, now called ‘The Stolen Generations’.

Lou Lasker pictured as a child in Sydney with her dad in 1986.

“For me it’s about acknowledging the heartache, trauma and monstrosity that occurred which fractured families and culture,” Lou said.  “Acknowledging what has happened is a part of healing.”

Likewise she believes National Reconciliation week, which runs from May 27 until June 3 is important for all Australians.

“It’s about unity and pride. We all need to ask, how do we move forward? How do we take a broken path to something great in the future?” Lou said.

Lou sees much to celebrate in Indigenous culture and languages.

“I love the huge amount of respect for Elders, and the way that Aunties and Uncles are able to pass on wisdom and culture. The thing that I love most is that we are oldest surviving culture in the world. If we can survive this long, we can survive anything.”

National Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week is a time for strengthening relationships between Indigenous Australians and all Australians, and a time for reflection on our action towards achieving reconciliation. We all have a role to play.

You can find out more about NAB’s support of Indigenous Australians here.  




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