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After the first few months of her life with her young mother, Donna Charles was handed over to the Bausch’s, a white family known to Fay, Donna’s mum. This was the 1970’s and Fay, who was dealing with a sick baby, a partner in prison and a struggle to find housing believed it was a temporary arrangement. But when she tried to get her daughter back a year later, the Bausch’s refused and took her to court. The three-year custody battle over Donna played out in the courts, the newspapers and even on current affairs tv shows.Full of claims and counterclaims of how ‘Aboriginal’ Donna looked and scrutiny of both parties parenting histories and reputations, it became a struggle in the eyes of the law about what was best for an Aboriginal child and what was not. “Any foster parent who takes in an Aboriginal child and does not visualise difficulties is in for trouble” stated Reg Worthy, director of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs when referring to Aboriginal children being brought up by non Aboriginal families and how these children were better off being raised by Aboriginal families.Following Fay’s death, aged 23, Donna and her sister were placed in the care of the Bausch family. Donna bravely shares her story.
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