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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
'Stolen' Aborigine apology demand
Leonie Pope ( Picture courtesy South Wales Argus)
Leonie Pope said she felt like she had always been in Australia (Picture: South Wales Argus)
A woman from Cwmbran is demanding an apology after discovering she was separated from her parents as a baby by the Australian government.

Leonie Pope, 35, was removed from her white father and Aboriginal mother during the "stolen generation" scandal.

Now she now wants compensation from the Australian government and is planning to emigrate and rejoin her siblings.

Prime Minister John Howard has previously said his generation cannot be held responsible for what happened.

Ms Pope, a mother-of-three from Cwmbran, was adopted as a child and brought to Wales, over 30 years ago.

"I was a home birth, so when I was born we were admitted to the hospital in Brisbane," she explained.

"It was here that this policy was carried out.

"I became separated from my mother. She was told she was signing for inoculations, like a consent, but it was later realised that she'd actually signed foster papers.

My mother confronted the hospital saying she wanted me back - she was actually told I was dead
Leonie Pope

"We were called the stolen generations and we were forcibly removed from our parents because it was felt by the government that the aboriginal people were unfit people to be bringing up their own children."

She said that all of her brothers and sisters were also taken from her parents.

"When my mother and I became separated, my mother confronted the hospital saying she wanted me back and that she had signed the wrong papers, she was actually told I was dead.

"She said ' well she's my daughter, I want her body for burial. I have the right to my own daughter's body' and at that point she was told that I had been disposed of so there was no reason for her to return to that hospital looking for me.

"But all that time, I was in that hospital and I remained there until I was about six-months old."

Ms Pope is now preparing to move her husband Michael, 37, and children Joshua, eight, Matthew, seven, and Ffion, three, to be with her family in Brisbane, Queensland.

"It is going to feel like a complete story," said Ms Pope. "It is the ending we are all looking for."

Brisbane skyline
Ms Pope and her family will be moving to Brisbane, Queensland

In the period from 1910 to 1970, it is estimated that between 10-30% of indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families by government agencies in an attempt to "breed out" their Aborigine blood and give them a better life.

Ms Pope's adoptive parents, Neil and Gloria Pope, were told her real mother had abandoned her at hospital.

She began researching more about her roots as a teenager but her mother died before she could learn of her daughter's existence.

In 2004, Ms Pope discovered that she had six siblings - she met five of them at the start of this year.

She also met other relatives, including her uncle Jeffrey Dynevor who became the first Aborigine to win a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games in 1963.

I spent all those years believing my parents didn't want me
Leonie Pope

"Even today in Australia it goes unacknowledged and also I think the government policy of removing children went on longer than people imagined," she said.

"I think they should be making amends for what they've done because they've caused a lot of devastation.

"I spent all those years believing my parents didn't want me because I had been told a lie and they must make amends."

The policy was only publicly acknowledged in 1997, when the results of an inquiry were published.

"It upset me to think my mum and dad didn't want me"

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