We celebrate epic journeys by explorers and those who have made significant achievements, but an epic journey that is extremely significant was the one that was taken by Molly, Daisy and Grace. With the passing of Daisy, it’s the last of the three sisters. And their journey is epic because they were young girls who left Mogumber Mission and walked along the Rabbit-Proof Fence, headed back to Jigalong to rejoin their community. They were taken away under the Native Welfare Act of Western Australia as part of a government policy that saw the removal of hundreds of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the state of Western Australia. But their journey is more of a story of survival, a story of strength, because when you consider that they walked along the Rabbit-Proof Fence in desert regions, they survived based on their knowledge of the bush, their capacity to use cultural knowledge that has seen the survival of Aboriginal people in Western Australia for 65,000 years plus.
They are my relatives. Doris Pilkington was my auntie, and when she wrote the book The Rabbit-Proof Fence, I felt a great sense of pride in knowing that I came from a family whose resilience, whose determination and whose toughness was demonstrated at a very young age. The passing of the last of the three is a sad moment, but what’s beautiful is they went back to tell their stories. They went back to grow their own families. And to all of the families of the three sisters, my thoughts are with you. I would love to have been in Jigalong to be there for Daisy’s funeral, but I was not able to. But I just want to acknowledge three great young Aboriginal women who later became leaders within their own right, within their communities, and I thank you for what you’ve done. But I want Western Australians also to think about if you were their age, could you have undertaken that journey and could you have survived in those harsh conditions?
This is the beauty of our culture and our people. Our resilience and our toughness never dissipates. What we have to do is to acknowledge an epic journey like this one that is equal to that of any explorer that we used to study in school and it should be equally celebrated as a significant achievement. My condolences and thoughts are with all the family and just remember and cherish the things that were important about each of the three.