2021 Guest Speakers

23 May 2021 Mt Eliza Community Hall

Notes from Ronnie Gorrie's talk

Ronnie grew up in Morwell in a big Aboriginal family and community.  She thought they were the majority and felt sorry for ‘the little white kids’.  They were poor and she learnt to fight.  Her mother, who was non-Indigenous and drank, left when Ronnie was 7 years old.  Ronnie and three siblings lived with her Grandmother for a period but they were badly treated.   Her Dad returned when she was 8 years old. Her Dad always worked and education was high on his agenda.

The community feared the Police and Welfare and would hide when they came as they were associated with being taken away.  Ronnie’s father had been removed as a child and placed in an orphanage.  His mother was sterilised and it took 4 years for her to get her son back. 

Ronnie was raped at 14 by two Aboriginal men but she does not wish anyone to infer that all Aboriginal men are rapists.  When, at an older age, she was raped again, she fled to Queensland and joined the Police Force in the hope of making a difference.

She was in a squad with 9 men and was regularly told that women should get out of the Force and that black fellows do not belong.  She still has panic attacks on arriving in Brisbane.

In 2011 she received a medical discharge from the Police Force suffering PTSD, Anxiety and Depression and with Trauma Amnesia.  Because of the amnesia, she started documenting what she did remember while she could.  But she does wonder what she has forgotten.  Her training partner also left the force and she believes he is a worse state than she is.

She is married with two gay children, whom she loves dearly and is the Grandmother of twins.   Personally signed copies of her book, “Black and Blue” were eagerly purchased at the meeting.

‘Black and Blue: A memoir of racism and resilience’. Veronica Gorrie (2021). Scribe Publications.

There are some reviews of the book here:  https://scribepublications.com.au/books-authors/books/black-and-blue

Swan member Maureen Donelly has provided the following reflection on Ronnie's talk.

‘The main thing I got from Ronnie’s address was her raw pain at the violence she has experienced (she broke down several times even though the trauma was in the past) juxtaposed with her incredible resilience – it embodied for me the First Nations’ experience, pain but resilience.  It was very precious for SWAN, as non-Indigenous women to have created this space whereby Ronnie shared her experience and we listened.  Hearing the truth of the racism and trauma suffered by First Nations yet also opening our eyes to their ability to survive is how change will happen’.