FAMILY is the most important thing to Lionel Harradine.
He lives in Framlingham surrounded by members of his extended family and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Mr Harradine, 79, was not as lucky when he was growing up.
At the age of five, Mr Harradine and his two siblings Veronica, 9, and Stan, 7, were taken from their family and placed in state care.
Mr Harradine’s aunty, who was caring for the children while their father was serving his country, had been warned the children were in the sights of authorities and took them to Swan Hill from Bordertown in South Australia on a horse and cart in the darkness of night.
But the four were tracked down by authorities and taken.
“They grabbed us,” Mr Harradine said.
Mr Harradine and his brother were taken to Kinchela Boys Home, while his sister was taken to the Cootamundra Girls’ Home.
For more than 70 years Mr Harradine has wondered what his life would have been like if he been allowed to have a normal childhood growing up with family.
Recently he received a formal apology from the NSW government.
“It doesn’t mean very much, but at least I’ve got something,” he said.
The apology came from the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell.
“I now apologise to you, on behalf of the state of New South Wales, for your removal from your family when you were a young boy,” the apology states.
“It must have been terrifying to be found hiding in the bushes and taken to police cells, it is understandable that the memory of being in court and the feelings connected with that moment remain with you today.”
Ms Mitchell said she acknowledged Mr Harradine’s great frustration at not being placed with extended family members and missing out on the “love, care and connection” other siblings received.
“It is especially upsetting to hear that your removal occurred while your father was away serving his country as a gunner in World War II and that his request to place you with your aunt Jean Karpenny and other siblings was initially approved but then denied,” she said.
“This disconnection between members of the Stolen Generations and their extended family, community and culture is part of the Aborigines Welfare Board’s hurtful legacy.”
Ms Mitchell said it was clear Mr Harradine’s removal had a significant impact on his family.
“To your credit and despite early educational setbacks you have gone on to achieve a Graduate Diploma of Applied Sciences,” she said.
“Your role on the Advisory Board for Aboriginal cultural issues during the creation of the South Eastern Marine Reserve must also hold great pride.
“You have clearly created loving relationships with your wife, children and grandchildren.
“Thank you for sharing your history. I hope this apology, and recognition of the hurt that your removal causes assists you in some way, although we understand that the memory of your experiences will remain with you always.”