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New book unveils Australia’s sordid history of forced adoption and one woman’s fight for justice

Announcement posted by Ocean Reeve Publishing 22 Apr 2022

At seventeen years old, Lily Arthur was caught between an era of women’s liberation and the draconian ideology that young women should be punished for deviating from society’s ‘moral codes’. For the crime of being pregnant, Lily was forcibly taken from her home, kept overnight in a Brisbane watch house, then sent to work in a notorious Magdalene laundry in Wooloowin.

Dirty Laundry: The crimes a country tried to hide tells the true story of Lily’s battle to find her son and seek justice for the wrongs inflicted upon her. 

‘I was a young mother without any protection from those who wilfully harmed not only myself but my son and his father, Steve. I was taken from my bed and incarcerated supposedly for my protection.’

Wooloowin’s Holy Cross Laundry, also known as the Magdalen Asylum, was an institution established by the Roman Catholic Church for unwed mothers in 1886. Lily was forced to work in the laundry, which provided income for the institution, while awaiting the birth of her son, who was then taken by nurses and adopted by strangers.

Dirty Laundry tells the story of Lily’s emotional search for her son and the subsequent parliamentary inquiries and senate inquiry that led to a national apology.

Lily’s goal when she set out to write the book thirty years ago was to share her story with her children and grandchildren. But after penning the events that transpired over many years, Lily’s goal shifted to a greater one, to seek justice for what she endured. ‘I needed to find an ending to it. I had to find an outcome to appease my loss and grief over losing my son and his father, whom I loved.’

Lily sought the assistance of Origins, an organisation that assists people separated by adoption, who guided her on her journey for justice. Lily became dedicated to the cause and, with her strong desire to help others, has volunteered with the organisation for over twenty years. She is now the New South Wales co-ordinator and works tirelessly as an advocate for people who have been forcibly removed or separated from their families, including working with the Aboriginal community as part of the Stolen Generations Alliance.

You can find out more about Lily Arthur and Dirty Laundry: The crimes a country tried to hide on website https://www.lilyarthur.com.

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