News

New grant explores stories of mixed-race children born of World War II



20 November 2013

The untold stories of thousands of mixed-race children fathered from allied troops posted in Australia during World War II is the focus of a first-of-its kind ARC project led by University of Sydney researchers.

Headed by ARC Indigenous Research Fellow, Dr Victoria Grieves, the project will shed light on this under-acknowledged chapter of Australia's wartime history, considering the lives and experiences of children born in the circumstances of war and their continuing struggle for identity and wellbeing that they and their families have carried.

Georgia Gleeson, a 32-year-old mother of four and member of the Robert de Castella Australian Indigenous Marathon Team completed the NYC Marathon last week.

There to cheer her on and to meet her at the finish line were members of her father's American family who she met for the first time. It was an emotional, happy meeting that also contained a tinge of sadness and tragedy.

Georgia's father, Don Carter was born of an Aboriginal mother and an African American father in Townsville in 1942.

Although Don's parents were married, neither his mother nor father could live in their partner's country and so the opportunity for this child to grow in the circumstances of his own loving family could not exist.

Don, who now lives in Wodonga Vic., had met his father's family at a reunion in Williamsburg, Virginia in July, three years after the death of his father. His father died without seeing his son since he was an infant.

Thousands of children, many of them of mixed- race, were born in Australia when more than one million allied troops were stationed in the country between 1941 and 1944.

"The segregation regimes of Australia and of the USA were different in nature but operated together to deny children born in circumstances such as Don to be nurtured within their own loving family," Dr Grieves said.

The researchers would like to hear from any Children Born of War or their children who are interested to find out more about their families.

Titled Children of War: Australia and the War in the Pacific 1941-1944, this project is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Project grant, and commences in 2014. Associate Professor Catriona Elder, also from the University of Sydney, and Dr Karen Hughes from Swinburne University of Technology are co-authors of the project.

Media enquiries: Dr Victoria Grieves, 0421 966 300, vicki.grieves@sydney.edu.au