Origins Queensland

Arthur v Queensland
Queensland Apology
Breaking News
St Marys Toowong
Adoptees page
Quensland Adoption Forms
The Gift
Adoption Graphs
Origins Submissions to the Senate Inquiry
Sinister Side of Queensland Adoption
Secret Qld Govt Document
Arthur v Queensland
Baby Selling in Qld
Labour Ward Practices
Stories and Poetry
Saturday Nights at Holy Cross
Landmark court case Lily Arthur v Queensland
Witness Testimonies


Origins Inc. Queensland (Aust).

L. Arthur Versus Queensland - Lily's Response To The Judgement.

Witness Statements:

Graham John Zerk, Previous Director, Dept of Children's Services


MR DAUBNEY (for the state): Mr Zerk, can you tell us your full name?-- Graham John Zerk.

That's Z-E-R-K?--Correct.

You are now retired?--Yes.

Between 1981 and 1987 you held the position of director of the Department of Children's Services; is that so?-- Correct.

Back in 1967 you were employed as a child-care officer by the Department of Children's Services?-- Yes.

And after commencing your employment did you come to know a lady by the name of Jay Whalley?-- Yes.

Did you have contact with Miss Whalley during the late 1960s?-- Yes.

With what frequency did you have contact with Miss Whalley?- Probably several times weekly.

What was her position, to your recollection?-- She was a child-care officer at that stage.

And what was the role of child-care officers? What were the functions of child-care officers?-- They had a multiplicity of responsibilities relating to the Adoption of Children Act and the Children's Services Act basically.

Were child-care officers, amongst other things, delegated the task of attesting the consents for adoption?-- Not all, some - some were.

Which of the child-care officers were delegated that function?-~ Do you want me to name those who I can recall would have been or -----

Or what qualifications were held by those who were given that function?-- On my recollection they would have each been qualified nurses.

And to your knowledge was there a reason for that?-- Well, the consents were normally given by mothers who were still in hospital at the time and they - after the birth of their babies. Typically it would be given within a hospital setting, and nurses were accustomed to that sort of situation and worked well in cooperation with both patients and medical staff.

MR DAUBNEY: All right. From your knowledge what was the position in the late 1960s so far as the requirement for obtaining babies for adoption or the department obtaining babies to put them out for adoption?—

Well, the department would - when advised. that a mother in a hospital was - had raised the possibility of signing a consent for adoption we would send one of those officers to that particular hospital for consultation with the mother and then after the prescribed period between the birth of the child had elapsed would then take the consent if the mother had indicated that that was her wish.

And the baby was then put out for adoption. Was that an easy task, to put babies out for adoption in the 1960s, in the late 1960s?-~ Not so much in the 1960s. There were lots of children available for adoption in those days, but they were all placed. Sometimes they were placed with people who had had adoptions beforehand and with whom we were satisfied that the upbringing of the child that had placed previously was successful and a second child could be placed there.

But the - if you're speaking about the relative numbers of children available for adoption then as compared to in later years there would have been a larger number at that time than subsequently.

Well, in the late 1960s was there really shortage of babies for adoption?-- Oh, no. (See Feils evidence and Directors Reports to the Queensland Government )

No. It has been suggested in the course of these proceedings that Miss Whalley in dealing with a prospective adoptive mother wasn't friendly, was dominating, bombarded the mother with information or requests and coerced by threats the mother to sign a form of consent of adoption. Does that describe the Jay Whalley that you knew in the late 1960s?-- No, sir.

How would wrote describe Ms Whalley in the late 1960s'?-- I would say that she would have been the least assertive of the child-care officers that we had on staff and a person who was very professional in the way she went about her duties and the manner in which she discussed and her cases and liaised with her colleagues. I would - I saw those comments in a news publication this week and I thought then it's not the person that I knew.

Was she unfriendly or aggressive?-- She was not at all unfriendly. She was an exceedingly friendly and likable person.

Was she a harsh person?--No, sir.

Was she slipshod or hasty in her work?--No.

MR DAUBNEY: What was her attitude that you saw to her work?-- I didn't supervise her work but in discussions between colleagues one got the clear impression of a person who was thorough and concerned to meet the requirements of the Act and professional expectations.

What degree of supervision was there at that time of compliance with the legislative requirements?-- There would have been supervision by a - at the next level above

Miss Whalley and me at that stage there would have been a graduate social worker in the position, if my memory serves me, of senior child-care officer.

And it has been suggested that Ms,Whalley threatened a mother with a transfer to Karrala. You are familiar with Karrala?-- Yes.

What do you say about the proposition that Ms Whalley threatened a person with a transfer to Karrala?-- Well, she couldn't do it for a start. I mean, she was not in a position to do that. She would have had to have made a substantial submission to a senior officer to have such a transfer authorised.

Thank you, your Honour.

That's the evidence of Mr Zerk.


MR WILSON (for the plaintiff):

Mr Zerk, you were a child-care officer in 1967----

But not a child-care officer who was tasked with obtaining consents from mothers in hospital?-- That is correct.

You worked in a separate area to Miss Whalley?--Yes.

You knew her as a work colleague?--Yes.

And you formed your impression of her as a result of discussions you had with her at work? You never attended with her when she took a consent from a mother?-- No, sir.

And you were familiar that child-care officers attended on their own to take such consents?-- That would be my understanding, yes. There may have been some occasions when a person who was learning the role would go with an experienced person but by and large it would be done alone.

Like trainees and the like?--Yes.

MR WILSON: And do I understand your evidence before to be that there was a, as it were, surplus of babies for adoption in 1967, in the late 1960s I think you were asked?-- I wouldn't like to use the term "surplus", sir, in respect to babies.

There were more babies available for adoption than there were applications for adoption?-- I couldn't comment with confidence about that.

Are you familiar with the reports that were made by the Director of Children Services to the Queensland parliament?- I know that those reports were made annually.

And in those reports, details were provided of applications received and adoption orders issued?-- That's correct.

And the adoption orders would be issued in respect of babies who were available for adoption?-- That is correct.

And can I suggest to you that for each of the years 1966 to 1970 inclusive, there were more applications received than there were adoption orders issued?-- That may well be the case. I'm not - I'm not aware of the numbers.

Which would tend to suggest that there wasn't - sorry.-- That there weren't more babies available for adoption than there were applicants for adoption?-- Well, that's your statement, sir. I don't - I said to you I don't know the numbers.

Would you like to look at the Director's reports for each of those years?-- Mmm, yes.

There should be a year written on that one, Mr Zerk?-- this is headed 1966.

MR WILSON: You will see that there is a report there to the parliament of applications received?-- Yes. And -the number is 1401. And the adoption orders issued 1398

So there is a deficiency there of three?-- The - the difference is three between those two numbers.

Yes?-- But an application is not necessarily approved immediately. An application has to be assessed of course.

Quite?-- And so there's not a - an immediacy of application equals approval equals order made.

And there may be carry over between years?-- There would be.

Can I ask you then to turn to the page with 1967 on it


HIS HONOUR: Does the material disclose the failure rate of application

MR WILSON: No, I don't think so?-- I can't see the '67 one.

HIS HONOUR: Mr Zerk, are you able to say whether in 1967 or thereabouts every application for an adoption was favourably received? That's to say, a view was taken that the proposed adoptive parents, that they were suitable and ought to have a baby?-- I'm sorry?

Let me speak up then. I’m inquiring about the position that attained in 1967, if you recall it, or thereabouts and the extent to which applications to adopt a child succeeded. Do you recall now whether every application to adopt a child in that period was favourably received by the department, the proposed adopting parents being regarded as suitable to have a baby? --- I very much doubt it would be 100 percent approval in any given time, your Honour but the proportion would be reasonably high

MR WILSON: I'm-sorry, had, you found, page 1967?-- No, see page ----- I can't

Could you hand it back to me, please?-- Thank you.

You will see in 1967 there was details provided for applications received and adoption orders issued?-- Yes.

Again there was a deficiency between the adoption orders issued as it compared to applications received?-- Yep.

In that year, what was the deficiency/--- The difference between 1646 and 1386 is the difference between applications received and adoption orders issued.

So in the order of 260 -odd?—I’ll believe that, yeah.

And. would you turn then to the page which is 1968. It might be - oh,’ have you got it? Again, the figures are there expressed applications received and the adoption orders issued?

The applications received 1,735 and orders issued 1, 371.

So that's in the order of 400 deficiencies there? --Mmm

Your Honour, I will tender those pages.

HIS HONOUR: The extracts from these reports will be admitted and marked Exhibit 34.'

MR WILSON: Your Honour, during the morning break, if we could photocopy those and place those with the record. Mr Zerk, to your knowledge did Ms Whalley remain as a child-care officer until her retirement from the department?-- I'm not sure when she retired from the department, sir.

Are you aware that she changed occupation from child-care officer to something else within the department?-- No.

Thank you, Mr Zerk

MR DAUBNEY: No re-examination, Mr Zerk please be excused?

Thank you, your Honour.

Witness Statements:


MARY MILTON CATTANACH - Social Worker - Consent Taker.

(Jay Whalleys best friend and another consent taker, also the “respectable” woman who on leaving the courtroom was heard saying women like myself were “only bags of trash anyway”)


MR DAUBNEY (for the state): Mrs Cattanach, can you tell us your full name, please?-- Mary Milton Cattanach.

You're retired?-- Yes.

You were previously employed by the Department of Children Services?-- Yes.

You were employed as a child-care officer by the Department of Children Services from about 1965?-- That's correct.

Before you worked for the department, where had you worked?-- immediately prior to that, at what is now the - well, was then the Women's Hospital.

And for how long did you work at the Women's Hospital?-- Close to seven years.

And what was your job at the Women's Hospital?—Mostly the labour ward and the theatre.

And what was your position in those wards?-- Senior Sister.

When did you undertake your training for registration as a nursing sister?-- I began my training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital in 1950 and completed it beginning of 1954, in May 1954.

And after registration did you undertake any other certificates?-----Yes I did obstetrical training at Crown Steet Womens Hospital in Sydney.

And after you finished your training at Crown Street, where did you work?-- That's when I went to the Women's Hospital.

I see. Was it - you've told us that it was from your job as a senior sister at the Women's Hospital that you then went to work for the department?-- That's right.

And when you went to work for the department in August of 1965, what job did you go into?-- Could you repeat the question for me, please, Mr Daubney.

When you first started working for the department in 1965? - Yes. What was your job?---- I was a child-care officer.

And what were your responsibilities as a Child-care officer?-- Well, the responsibilities - we all had a division, like a pie chart, of the city and surround and we were responsible for everything that concerned the department within those divisions we were allocated to. But those of us who were registered nurses, on a monthly basis we took turns in going to the hospitals to see about the - taking adoption consents.

Apart from your training and experience as a nursing sister and a senior sister of the hospital, did you undertake any other training or education for your work as a child-care officer?-- Yes. When I started in the department, those of us that didn't have relevant training, there was an in-service training course which lasted for three years and comprised of three-hour lectures for three nights a week and three-hour exam papers at the end of each year, and if we completed those successfully, we would then - we were more or less on a probationary basis until then, we were fully-fledged child-care officers.

I take it you successfully completed that course?-- Yes.

Did you know Jay Whalley?-- I knew Jay Whalley, yes.

When did you first come to know Jay Whalley?-- Well, I first came to know her when I went to work in the children services department and I had - we had had brief passings before that but didn't really know each other. .

Do you know whether Ms Whalley completed the course that you've just described to his Honour?-- She did, at the same time as, I did.

Was part of your work as a child-care officer to attest adoption consents?-- Yes.

And did you - I'm sorry. At which hospitals did you perform that work?-- Royal Women's, the Mater, and Boothville Hospital, a Salvation Army one at Windsor, and occasionally there was a small maternity hospital at Corinda, to go there, but that was pretty infrequent. It was an offshoot of the Royal Women's Hospital.

From your time working at the Women's Hospital and subsequently as a child-care officer, are you able to tell his Honour what the procedure was in terms of where babies were placed after they were born?~- Well, if the girl had intimated that she was going to offer her baby for adoption, they were - there was no specific nursery that those babies went to but they were dotted each ward, had a nursery attached to it bar one, where mothers that didn't have babies

They were to be still births, adoption babies or maybe small premies that were very ill and they didn't have nursing mothers around them to upset them. So that was a ward that was kept for mothers with no babies. But each of the other wards had a nursery attached and adoption babies were sort of scattered around those different nurseries.

MR DAUBNEY: What about babies where the mother hadn't given any indication before birth that the baby was to be adopted out, where do those babies go?-- Well, they would just go to the normal ward, whichever ward had a bed spare that could accommodate. She would and her baby would be there, the baby was her responsibility, and they were both in the care of the hospital.

Whose responsibility or say - so was it as to a mother visiting or having contact with her baby?-- Well, that would be at the discretion in the sister in charge of the ward in whose nursery the baby was placed. She would say whether she - or how often she could visit the baby, because it would be upsetting to visitors and what have you if she was hanging around distressed all the time.

From the time you started working as a child-care officer, was it any part of your function to specify whether or not a mother could see a baby?-- No. Until the - until the consent was signed, the baby was still the mother's. Absolutely.

Do you recall an Elsie Robinson?-- Yes.

Was she working at the Women's Hospital in 1967?-- she would have been, yes.

All right. Do you recall what Ms Robinson's job was?-- She checked with the labour ward on a daily basis to ascertain if any of the mothers were offering their baby for adoption and then she would see those mother's and she would - and I think most of the babies she - oh, I'm a bit hazy on this, Mr Daubnev, but I think she used to prepare birth registrations for babies that were born but she would specifically see the ones for adoption

Right. How would the information about which babies were being offered for adoption pass from Ms Robinson to yourself?-- Well, she would have the forms filled in and she would have "baby for adoption" at the bottom of it and----

Just.,before we go on, which form are you talking about that she would have filled in?-- Oh, I can't remember the name of it. It was a form for the registration of birth. I'm not sure. That's asking me to remember back a long way.

All right. Your Honour, may I see Exhibit 2, please?-- would recognise the form if I saw it.

I am going to show you a document#, Mrs Cattanach?-- remember. Now, I remember It is called a "Report of Investigation". Is that the sort of document you were just talking about?-- Absolutely, yes, that's it.

Right. So the procedure was that Mrs Robinson would attend on the mother, complete that form and, I'm sorry, what then happened? What - i n terms of involvement of a child-care officer?-- She would have them and we would collect them from her and then proceed to see the mothers -----

MR DAUBNEY: Could you just repeat your last sentence. Did you say "then proceed to see the mothers individually"?-- Yes, yes.

How did you know whether there were report of investigation forms to be collected from Mrs Robinson?-- We'd usually ring the hospitals to find out..

Right. So the procedure was that Mrs Robinson would attend on the mother, complete that form and, I'm sorry, what then happened? What - in terms of involvement of a child-care

MR DAUBNEY: Could you just repeat your last sentence. Did you say "then proceed to see the mothers individually"?-- Yes, yes.

And with what frequency did you phone the hospitals? We're talking about the era about 196?-- Yeah, well, at that time we had - as I said, those - there were four registered nurses there who did this round - hospital round. We used to - I think it was a month at a time but we still had our other departmental work to attend to.

So it was usually three days a week we went. If 1 remember rightly it was Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unless we'd had - that would sort of be a routine thing. Then if we had to go because the time - the days had elapsed, the mother wanted to be discharged and we would go and see her, make a special visit

All right, we might take it one step at a time. In relation to the report of investigation, did you ever encounter a situation where it was noted that the baby was not to be adopted?-- Oh, yes, frequently.

And what action did you take if a report of investigation noted that a baby was not to be adopted?-- Well, there would be no action to take because the baby that - the mother - it's the mother's baby. She collects it and she goes home with it.

So there would simply be no contact from a child-care officer in that instance?-- No. There would be no need to have contact.

In relation to a form that stated."baby to be adopted", that then prompted the child-care officer ----- ?-- That's right.

----- to go and visit the mother?-- We had to have some indication that she was contemplating offering the baby for adoption.

Were there any ever.any situations where there was a question mark as to whether the baby was to be adopted or not?-- Sometimes the mother was undecided, yes.

And what action did the child-care officers take in that sort of situation?-- Well, we would just go and see her another day.

You yourself mentioned a timeframe a few minutes ago. Can you explain to his Honour, please, what the timeframe was for these processes to be followed, that is the report of investigation and then if necessary any attendance by the child-care officer?-- Well, five full days had to elapse from the date of the baby's birth until the time the mother signed the adoption consent. That meant if the baby was born on the Ist of the month the consent would be taken on the 7th,

because those five days ~ if it was born one minute after midnight on the first day that day didn't count at all, it had to be five full days after that. So the seventh would be normally the day that you would take it.

All right. When you then had received a report of investigation form that noted that a baby was for adoption or raised a query as to whether a baby was for adoption, what process did you then undertake?-- Well, I'd go to see the mother and talk to her about her decision.

Do you recall whether there were any guidelines set by the department for the process of obtaining adoption consents?-- I can't specifically recall any definite guidelines. I think it would be explained to us by other departmental members who had taken consents. The way they did it, you might formulate your own method of proceeding with it.

Did you have your own method of proceeding with it?-- Yes, more or less.

What was that?-- Well, I'd talk to her and explain the process of adoption. I would show her the form. I'd explain each item on the form, explain to her what it all meant, her rights of revocation,' the 30 day period after she had signed it which she could change her mind, and I explained, I felt, in full detail as to what it really meant.

How long would you spend with the 'birth mothers?-- Well, a normal period of time would be between 30, 45 minutes. It all depended on her state. Some of them would be very upset with them and you have to spend longer with them..

Different birth mothers in different situations ----- ?-- Yes ----- would have different reactions?—Yes

What was the range of reactions' that you had to deal with from these different mothers?-- Well, uncontrollable distress, some of them wouldn't - barely speak to you at all, and others would be quite abusive and rude because that was the only way they reacted to the stress that they were under, and so you just tried to calm them down and talk to them.

Now, what steps did you take to ensure that the birth mother understood the adoption or the consent to adoption form?-- Well, I felt that I'd explained to her in detail and I'd ask her was there anything that she was in doubt about and I could go over it again.

And you mentioned to his Honour that you took care to explain their rights of revocation?-- That's right.

Can you expand on that?-- Yes.

What were a birth mother's rights of revocation? Do you recall?-- Yes. From the time - 1 think it was from the time she signed the consent, she had 30 days and the director did not sign the adoption order until that 30 days had elapsed, and if she didn't.approach the department to revoke the consent then the director would sign the adoption order.

Did you ever encounter situations where mothers were undecided as to whether they were going to give their babies up for adoption?-- I can't - well, you mean even after 30 days had passed?

Sorry, I'm going back now to your attendance, I beg your pardon. You have received the form from--~--?-- Yes.

----- Miss Robinson, you have then gone to see the mother and the mother tells you that she's undecided?-- That would happen sometimes, yes.

And what did you do in that situation?- Well, I'd make arrangements to see.her again, give her more time to think about it, maybe discuss it with family or whatever, and see her again.

What discussions did you have with a mother in that sort of situation?-- Well, I'd explain to her the pros and cons of having the baby in adoption and keeping it, the difficulties she could encounter if she was alone and had no family support and what it could mean to her having her own baby. She had to decide which outweighed the other. I used to tell her it would be the most difficult decision she would ever have to make in her life.

Why?-- Well, it had to be their decision and theirs alone. It couldn't be anyone elses. They were the birth mother and the decision they made about the baby had to be theirs, not mine, not their parents', not anyone else, and I used to explain that she had to be the one that decided.

Were there any departmental guidelines or instructions to indicate that mothers should be pressured into giving their babies up for adoption?-- I don't think anyone would do it.

HIS HONOUR: Mrs Cattanach, there must, I suppose, have been times when you knew of the circumstances of the mother and what you could expect her to go to after she'd left hospital where you yourself have thought it would be in the best interests of the child to be adopted out?-- Yes, your Honour. This is what I was trying to imply when I said that I'd explained the pros and cons of either side, whether she kept it or whether she released it, and I thought it was only fair that she should be made aware of the difficulties that she could encounter if she didn't have family support, and in- those days there wasn't too much family support.

I raise it because I wonder whether it isn't possible that from time to time you felt that you ought in the interests of the child and in the interests of the mother, as you assessed the situation, to recommend adoption?-- No, I can't recall ever - I would never have recommended it straight out. I didn't feel 'that 1 should get involved, that I had to remain impartial as to what my personal feelings were.

MR DAUBNEY: In terms of the pros and cons that you would discuss with a single mother in that situation, remembering that we're talking about the late - mid to late 1960s, what were the sort of cons that faced a single mother in those days?-- Well, her ability to earn a living plus take care of a new baby. This was a big issue because there were not the financial benefits available in those days to single mothers that there are today.

What societal difficulties did women in that situation face, or social difficulties?-- I think that would sort of depend on - their young teenage friends used to be very envious of having this little baby and would visit them a lot, but that used to get a bit boring after a while, I think, but that sort of fell away. A lot of them found themselves in difficulties some time afterwards and reapproached the department to have the baby offered for adoption again, and sometimes neighbours got police involved. That happened too.

You knew Jay Whalley?--


How long did you know Jay Whalley.?--

For 30 years.

It's been alleged in evidence that there was an inciden t in which Ms Whalley when interviewing a prospective - or when interviewing a birth mother was not friendly, dominated the birth mother, bombarded her with information and effectively coerced her and threatened her until she signed the consent to adoption form?-- Well, I have absolutely no hesitation in stating that that was not Jay Whalley's personality at all.

She was a very kind, caring, considerate lady and she wouldn t know how to be domineering.

What do you know, having known her for 30 years, of her personal history before she became a child-care officer?-- For a number of years, I can't recall just how many, she worked in the mission station in Mornington Island and the Gulf. 1 think she virtually ran that station, with a bit of help from the local flying doctor no doubt and what have you and she was - she had very, very strong, deep, religious convictions. She was very much involved with St Paul's Presbyterian church in St Paul's Terrace and altogether she was a very good, honest, reliable person.

It's been suggested in evidence before his Honour that in the course of interviewing a birth mother and putting pressure on the birth mother to procure her consent to sign an adoption consent that Ms Whalley threatened to have the birth mother sent to Karrala House?-- Well, that wouldn't have happened because she would not have had that authority.

Do you recall what financial benefits were available to single mothers at that time in 1967?-- No, I don't think there was any government payment - financial benefit. I have a vague idea that the department in really stressed circumstances might have made a small one-off payment of - this is just - I can't absolutely guarantee this. There were - there was help available from the Salvation Army and people like this with food coupons and perhaps accommodation briefly, but I really didn't become involved with that side of it very much.

At that time in 1967 was it possible for the baby of a young single mother to be put in foster care rather than being adopted out?-- Well, there could be instances where that would happen. If she had – it wouldn't be placed in foster care unless there was something medically wrong with the baby wasn't - she had signed an adoption consent and because of .the medical condition it wasn't immediately able to be placed It could be put in foster placement, what they called temporary foster placement or deferred adoption, but other than that, no, if-the mother had not signed the consent it wouldn't be placed in foster care.

All right. If the mother was a minor and a ward of the State would that have had an impact on the advice given to her or the treatment given to her by a child-care officer in 1967?-- That would have come from a child-care officer. That would have to have come from the director or perhaps the senior child-care officer if the director wasn't at that time available, but we didn't have the authority to determine where they would go and when they would go.

I see. Excuse me, your Honour. Thank you, your Honour. That's the evidence of Mrs Cattanach.


MR WILSON (for the plaintiff): Mrs Cattanach, can I ask you, please, about your time as a midwife before you joined the department. You said that you worked in part at the Brisbane Women's Hospital?-- That's correct, yes.

And I take it as part of that time you worked in the labour word or delivery rooms?-- Most of the time.

And you worked there, did you, up until the time you joined the department in August 1965?-- No, there was a two year break, a two year break.

You were working somewhere else?--No, I was looking after my mother who was very ill.

I see. So the last time that you were at the Royal - the Brisbane Women's Hospital was in 1963. Would that be right?-- I think if I remember correctly I left in - either April or May 1963.

Can I ask you about the practice at that time in terms of a young mother who is giving birth to her child in the delivery room, the circumstances in which that child would be taken away without being shown to the mother?, Do you recall firstly whether that ever occurred?-- I wouldn't know. I can only know that I always asked them.myself if they wished to see the baby before it was taken away, but I wasn't present at every delivery.

In terms of those deliveries that you attended whilst you were a midwife at the Brisbane Women's Hospital, did you ever attend the birth where the baby'was taken away?-- Never.

And you can't say whether or not that was done obviously in instances where you weren't there?-- No, I would have no idea.

In terms of those babies that were put up - sorry, I will withdraw that and start again. There were circumstances, weren't there, where mothers had signified before giving birth that the child was to be put up for adoption?~- Mmm-hmm, yes.

In those cases was the baby taken to a separate nursery at the hospital?-- The nurseries were attached to all the postnatal wards.

Yes?-- And it would go to one of those nurseries weren't all collected in one particular nursery.

Was there a ward for unmarried mothers?-- No. Well - they weren't very - you mean after they'd had the baby?

Mmm? --

Yes, there was. Ward 9 it used to be, yes

A separate ward for unmarried mother?-- Well, mothers that didn't have a baby. That may have been stillbirths -----

Yes? -- ----- or very ill premature babies that would - the mother didn't have a baby there.

Or babies that were thought to be put but for adoption?-- Yes, offered for adoption, yes.

It would be cruel, wouldn't it, to put those mothers in with married ladies who were breast feeding their babies?-- It could be rather distressing, yes.

And in terms of those ladies who were taken to the unmarried mother's ward, it was the practice, wasn't it, not to allow them contact with 'their children?-- No, it wasn't the practice.

They could have limited access but whether they did or not once again was purely at the discretion of the sister in charge of that particular ward.

The decision to administer - are you aware of a drug called Stilboestrol?-- Stilboestrol, yes.

What's that?--It suppresses the milk supply.

In what circumstances would you administer that?-- To someone who wasn't - wouldn't be breast feeding a baby.

And that could be, I take it, for a number of reasons?-- well, for a number of reasons. -

Including?-- Including adoption. ---Yes,

Adoption?-- Mmm. There was no need to lactate if you have not got a baby to feed.

But I take it that in your time as a nurse you wouldn't administer that drug to a mother until the decision had been made to adopt out the child?-- You wouldn't administer it to the mother until the doctor had given the instruction.

And in the case of a baby who's to be put out for adoption until that decision had been made?-~ Well - yes, well, that decision would have to be made. The doctor would be aware of that decision when he prescribed it.

And how would the doctor be aware of that decision? Is there some notation made?-- It would probably be notated and he would also talk to the patient and ask her was she decided on .that. The doctors had quite a responsibility to look after the patient whether the baby was being adopted or not.

Do you know whether that document that you have been shown, which is described as the report of investigation, was kept on the hospital file of the patient? Now, that document came to, what, the Department of Children's Services, as it then was?-- This document?

Yes?-- No, this is - yes, this would have - this is a children's services one, yeah. This is the one she filled out for the babies that were being offered for adoption.

You have given some evidence that you used to take turns and I think you said it was roughly on a monthly ----- ?-- About a month at a time, yes.

----- rotation where you'd go to all the hospitals and take the consents?-- Yes. All the maternity hospitals, yes.

And there were four of you that did this job?-- Mmm-hmm.

And you went on your own?-- Went on our own, yes.

There was nobody else present when you took consents?-- There was no need to be, no - well, we assumed there was no need to be.

I ask you then when you started work at the department in August of 1965 you said that you didn't have this period of training?-- Mmm-hmm.

Did I understand you correctly that that training took place over three years?-- Over three years.

And was it three hours at a time?-- three nights a week.

Three hours at a time for For every week of the year?--Every week.

And Miss Whalley did the course at the same time as you?-- the same time. As many other departmental officers did.

So in 1967 you and Ms Whalley would have been two thirds of the way through the training course?-- We would have been - well, I don't think we started - they weren't ongoing all the time. I think ~ I don't think we started in 1965, I think it was 1966 before they started - they'd start a new group.

Yes?-- I think. I'm not sure. It could have been as long as 1967, I'm not.sure. I just can't remember that detail.

So, there may have been a period of time where both you and Ms Whalley had no training, no - none of this in-service training?-- None of the in-service training. There could have been a brief period.

In terms of the group - this in-service training course, what did it comprise? Was it a series of lectures?-- Well ----- I was told - I don't know ----

MR WILSON: Sorry, I was asking you, Mrs Cattanach, whether or not the in-service training course comprised a series of lectures?-- Yeah, and I was told - I don't know whether it was accurate or not - but someone did tell me when the university started a full-time associate work degree course they'd had prior to that a diploma course that they were scrapping and the department took it up and used part of it or all of it, I don't know which, as the in-service training course.

And who were the lecturers at the course?-- Oh, psychiatrists -----

Not their names ----- ?-- Yes, psychiatrists, psychologists, director of the department - oh, a number of people.

And that covered the whole range of your ' responsibilities ----- ?-- Yes, covered the lot.

-as a child-care officer?-- Thatd be right, yes.

And those responsibilities included much more than the taking of adoption consents?-- Oh, yes, yes. The Act, that was part of it, and the regulations, and we had to be able to quote it all.

I was going to ask you that. Were you taken through the provisions of the child services ------ ?-- Yes.

Children Services Act?-- Yes, of course. As I say, we had to quote and - we had exam - three-hour exam papers.

And the adoption Act?-- And the adoption Act, yes.

And Ms Whalley would have attended those same lectures as you?- Yes, we all did the same lectures.

You knew Ms Whalley for 30 years. You became very good friends?-- We were very goods friends, yes.

Very close friends?-- I would say we were fairly close friends. We had very much the same interests, apart from the work.

You attended her wedding?-- Yes

In terms of the procedures that were followed, do I understand this correctly, that a child-care officer, whether it be you or one of the other three - were all you nurses, the four of you?-- Yes, yes, well we were all registered nurses.

All former nurses?-- Yes.

One of those forms would come into the department,the report of investigation forms?-- Mmm.

Were they kept in a location where you'd have access to them?-- They were kept within the adoption section, which was very much almost a closed section. If you were doing as we used to call it the hospital rounds, taking the consents, you had access to the adoption department.

Yes?-- But every Tom., Dick and Harry in the department did not have access to those files.

When it was your turn to do the hospital rounds, were you given a bundle of these reports? I'm just wondering how you knew who to go and see?-- No, you'd collect them at the hospital. I used to ring the hospital or I'd speak to Ms Robinson or whoever it was at the other hospitals and ask them were there any consents to be taken.

So that document was kept at the hospital?-- It was kept at the hospital till such time as we took the consent and then, that was it.

And when you went to the hospital, did you sit down and speak with whoever had completed the report of investigation to get some background information?-- Well, sometimes, perhaps; perhaps not some other times. I really can't specifically recall who 1 spoke to on each occasion I went.

For example, if you were given a form with a question mark, "Baby for adoption, question mark", did they ever come in?-- Occasionally they would. I see this one has one.

And what would that have signified to you?-- That the mother hadn't really made up her mind.

Would you then ask the person who completed the report of investigation, "What's the situation here?" "What's happening"?-- Well, I really couldn't be definite about this but I would imagine that Ms Robinson would not consider that part of her responsibility to query the mother about it. That was our job if we wanted to know the baby was going to be adopted or not, to quiz her about any part of it, other than things that are listed here. Not all of - not even all of that.

That notation, had you received it, would have signified to you there was some uncertainty in the mother's mind?-- Oh, absolutely, yes.

Do you agree that in those circumstances it was inappropriate to approach the mothers and attempt to persuade them to give up their child?-- It wouldn't be inappropriate to approach them but you wouldn't attempt to persuade them in any direction.

Do you accept that in so far as you spoke to these mothers of new born children, that they placed trust in you?-- I don't think they would have really looked at us one way or the other in respect of trust or mistrust. I couldn't be sure about that.

Do you accept that they placed ----- ?-- We were a stranger to them; why would they trust us straight off?

You were the person who was taking their new born child and finding new parents for it?-- We didn't even do that. There was a particular officer in the department that found the placements for them.

.Do you accept that the mothers of new born children placed confidence in you?-- No, I wouldn't attest to that. I don't see why they should. As I say we were a stranger. They didn't know - they were a bit stressed at the situation.

I don't think they would be thinking of us, really, as someone they could trust. After all, if you were handing your baby over to a stranger, not that we took them away, but you didn't feel that they would have any feelings towards you, but trust - not feelings of trust.

In terms of the approach which you took, did it make any difference to your approach whether the mother was under 21?-- No.

Made no difference at all?-- She was still the mother of the baby.

So if a mother was aged 15, you'd take the same approach as one aged 26?-- Oh, no, not a big age difference like that. I'd expect a 15-year-old to be somewhat more immature than a 26-year-old would be.

Yes?-- And so there could be a different approach.

Do I take it from that answer then that the maturity of the mother is something that you take into account?-- Oh, you'd take into account, yes.

And whether they understand the process of adoption?-- Well, you could only explain it once, twice or however many times seemed necessary and ask her did she understand it. You could only accept the fact if she said yes, that she did understand it.

It was your practice to show the mother the form that she signed?-- I'd go through it item for item with her.

Did you also show her the form?--Yes.

And you signed it as well-- I signed it, yes. Not this particular form; this was the adoption consent form.

No, no, I'm talking about your general practice?-- Yes.

In terms of mothers who were in the care and control of the Director of Children's Services, was that a relevant factor that you took into account when taking the consent?-- Well, you'd have to give it some thought.

How would-----?-- If she was in care and control, then, once again, it's in the Director's too hard basket.

What do you mean by the Directors too hard basket?-- Well, the director of the department, he determines what will happen to them, not the child-care officer.

Well, in terms of ----- ?-- And that would be a difficult decision-to make. That's what I mean by the too hard basket.

In terms of a child who was in the care and control of the state, of the director?-- Mmm.

Firstly, how do you ascertain whether the mother is or is not under care and control?-- Well, the Children Courts make that care and control order.

But when you go to the hospital, is there anything that - any information that you're given as to whether or not the person is the subject of such an order?-- I can't recall. As 1 said, I can't remember everything that happened nearly 40 years ago.

Well, deal with it a step at a time. The first contact you have is when you go to the hospital and are given a report form?-- Yes.

Do you know whether anything is provided for on there telling you whether the person is under care and control?-- Well, if a child, a juvenile, is under the care-and control,.usually a child, a juvenile, is under the care and control, usually they would be in a children's institution of some kind


Even if they'd given birth to a child?-- Care and protection, they could stay at home with their parents or whatever, whatever accommodation they had. But when they're in care and control, this was only something that was applied to juveniles that were quite uncontrollable.

In terms of those people who were kept in institutions when they gave birth, they went to a hospital though, didn't they?-- They went to the hospital to have the baby, yes, and they would return to the institution from which they came afterwards.

And my question to you was how would you know whether such a person, a young lady, who had given birth, was the subject of a care and control order?-- Well, we would know where she'd came from. If she had come from a children's institution, we would know that.

How would you know that?-- The ambulance would bring them in. That information would come from the ambulance.

In terms of when you attend the hospital to take the adoption consent, how do you know how she's got to the hospital?-- Well, if she came in an ambulance brought from one of the children's institutions, I think this one is Holy Cross or something, she - we would have known where she came from. It would be on the chart. It would be mentioned on here that she had been brought in by ambulance from Holy Cross Home.

So that information you would ordinarily expect to be recorded on the report- --- ?-- That would be on the report, yes. I - I would imagine. I can't specifically recall any instance where it happened but it seems the logical way to have been done.

Just so we're not at cross-purposes, is it your evidence that your practice was not to make any specific inquiry of the mother as to whether or not she was the subject of a care and control order?-- Well, under normal circumstances I'd have no reason to ask her. But as I say, if she came - she was under an order of care and control, she would have come from a children's institution - a girl's institution and we would have known that that's where she came from and that would have been - the hospital would have notified them of that.

Now, if you get a report -----

HIS HONOUR: You mean you wouldn't have asked because there was other information that you would certainly have had that would have told you that?-- Yes.

MR WILSON: Now, if the person who filled in the form correctly had told you that the lady had come from one of the institutions, did that make any difference then to the the procedure that you followed?-- There is no reason why it should.

It wasn't a relevant consideration that that person was under the care and control of the Director of Children Services?--

No, I thought I had sort of clarified that bit, that we would have known that she was under a care and control order. That would have come to our - brought to our attention by somebody.

But in terms of taking the adoption consent, the process - the procedure that was applied by you was no different to a person who wasn't the subject of a care and control order?-- The actual procedure, no.

You didn't, for example, seek a representative from the director's office to be present?-- No.

When the consent was taken?-- Well, I suppose if you like to look at it in that, like, we were the representatives of the director's office.

In terms of the process that was then followed, if I could ask you whether you have any knowledge of that, once the consent was taken, did it form part of some record of the department?-- In the adoption section, yes.

And did you have anything to do with it thereafter?-- Not after that, no.

You had nothing to do, for example ----- ?-- Once the consent was signed, my part of it was done.

You didn't have anything to do, for example, the actual adoption order?-- with processing the actual adoption order. no no

In terms of the evidence that you gave before about revocation, was it your understanding at the time that the birth mother had 30 days ----- ?-- That's ----- To revoke her consent?-- That was laid down in the regulations, yes.

Were you aware that if an adoption order was made earlier than the 30 days, that stipulated the time limit?-

Were you aware that if an adoption order was made earlier than 30 days after the birth - I'm sorry, after the consent, that that provided the time limit within which the mother could revoke her consent?-- The adoption order was never made within the 30 days limit. Thirty days was set down, hard and fast rule

And I take it, therefore, that when you gave advice to birth mothers, in terms of the time limit that was available to them to revoke their consent, it would only have referred to the period of 30 days?-- Thirty days from then on, yes. She had that period. She could come in probably on the 30th day and she would still have been able to revoke the consent.

In terms of those children who were returned to the institutions, who are under a care and control order, were any steps taken to your knowledge to ascertain from them within the 30-day period whether or not they wished to revoke the consent?—

Well, it was explained to them that they approach the department, and if they were in an institution, they were to approach whoever was in charge of that institution or the child-care officer who was overseer for that institution, that they want to tell them that they want to revoke the consent.

Did the child-care officer who took the consent have any part to play in that?-- No.

That was left to another officer?-- That's passed over to the-----

So you would rely on the birth mother getting in touch with the department?-- Well, getting in touch with someone. If the head of the institution she was in, the child-care officer that visited the institution, one or the other.

And you then rely on the person at the institution to get in touch with someone from the department?-- Well, it was their responsibility to do that, yes.

You were aware of the institution known as Karrala in 1967?-- Yes.

And it had an infamous reputation?-- I don't know about infamous. It wasn't the best place I suppose.

Do you accept that if a girl of the age of 17 was threatened to be sent to Karrala, that it would cause her fear and apprehension?-- Depend who threatened her. If the Children's Court Magistrate threatened her, yes, she would have reason -to be apprehensive.

If somebody threatened her who she thought had the power to send her to that institution?-- Well, the only people who would have had the power would have been the Magistrate of the Children's Court or the Director of the Department of Children Services. Nobody else had the power.

But in answer to my question, if a girl of the age of 17 - thought the person who told her she might be sent to Karrala had the power to do so, you accept that would cause her fear and apprehension?-- It may well do.

Do you accept that in circumstances where the birth mother was undecided at the time you went to take the consent, that it would have been inappropriate for you to attempt to persuade the mother to give up her child for adoption?-- I would never attempt to persuade way or the other.

You gave some evidence about discussing the pros and the cons?-- Mmm, but that's not persuading her. Not in my book anyhow.

It depends how one puts the pros and the cons?-- Well, I did my best to put it in the most simple and understanding way I could. I could do no more.

In terms of the pros, what were they?-- Did she have someone to help her, parents, family? Did she have a job where she could have the baby with her, to be - probably other instances I can't think of right off the top of my head at the moment.

You.say they're the positive things you asked -- They're the positives to her keeping the baby.

So if she had someone to look after her?-- If she.had someone to look after her who could support her and the baby adequately, yes.

If she was in a relationship where she intended to get married, would that be a relevant consideration?-- It would be a relevant consideration by anyone. She would have to get consent if she was under age, either parental consent or the Court's consent.

That would be something relevant to ascertain in terms of the - this giving of the advice of the pros and the cons?-- If she was thinking of getting married and she was marrying a young man in a steady job with a reasonable income that could support them, yes.

In terms of the cons, what were they?-- How was she going to cope, financially, would be the big one.

Yes?-- Because if she could - unless she could get a job where she could have the baby with her, there would be no question of her being able to work because she'd have to have someone to care for the baby.

Anything else other than that?-- Oh, the top of my head, no. There could be others, reasons.

And you say that these meetings that you attended usually lasted for about 30 to 45 minutes?-- Roughly, yes.

And during that time, would most of the discussion involve these pros and cons?-- Not most of it but that would definitely come into it, if she was undecided. -The majority of them had already made up their mind.

Mmm?-- And explained the process of the adoption and what was on the form and they were ready to sign.

Mmm?-- It would be only someone who was undecided which you would go through that long - longer discussion.

And in those cases where somebody was undecided, the discussion of the pros and the cons would take most of the time that you spent with the birth mother?-- Oh, 50-50. don't think most of it.

And in terms of your knowledge of Ms Whalley, you gave some evidence that she had strong, deep, religious convictions?-- Yes.

She disapproved of unmarried mothers?-- Not that I'm aware of.

In terms of the mid-1960s, can I suggest to you that pressure was placed on unmarried mothers to give up their children for adoption?-- No, I couldn't accept that at all.

And that pressure was placed by each of the four of you who worked as child-care officers of the department?-- Sorry, could I just have that again, please. I'm not sure I understood.

Yes. I had earlier put to you that there was pressure put on unmarried mothers to give up their children for adoption and you disagreed with that?-- I disagree with that, yes.

And then I'm suggesting to you that that pressure was put on young unmarried mothers by each of the four of you?-- Well, that's out of the question. No, it's not - didn't come into it at all. It would not have happened, I'm quite definite on that, with any of the others.

And I suggest to you that it was inappropriate for a child-care officer to approach a birth mother who was undecided as to whether to give her child up for adoption?-- Well, you'd have to approach her to find out if she’d made up her mind but you wouldn't approach her for any other reason that had she yet decided whether she was going to offer the baby for adoption or not, and then you would make arrangements to see her another day.

Do you say that the only inquiry that should be made is whether or not she's made up her mind?-- That's about all do, yes.

It would be wrong, therefore, you would agree, to attempt to get her to make up her mind at that consultation or that meeting?-- Well, I'd be quite confident saying that no attempt would ever be made at that stage. If she hasn't made up her mind, she hasn't made up her mind. That's it.

And therefore you agree that it would be wrong to try and get her to make up her mind at that time?-- Well, it would be wrong but I don't know that anyone - I don't think anyone would have done it, and I think that's what you want me to say and I can't agree with that.

Now, at the time that you attended on birth mothers, did you make any inquiries to determine what medication they were receiving?-- The medication was the responsibility of the doctor looking after them, not mine.

But in terms of their fitness to give you a consent, what inquiries did you make as to the medication they were receiving?-- Well, when you're a experienced registered nurse, if a patient is on a sedative of any kind, you can detect it by the way --their mannerisms.

Yes?-- You know they're under the influence of something.

When you're taking a consent seven days after the birth of a baby, any medication that she would have had of a sedative nature or anaesthetic nature or anything else would have happened a week beforehand and its effects would long be gone So there would - I don't know of any patient that was on - kept on sedatives for long period of time, say, a week.

In terms of your practice, it was relying on the observations of the person concerned?-- Well, that's a big part of a nurse's job, observation.

And do you accept that it would be inappropriate to take a consent from a young, unmarried mother in circumstances where she wasn't in apparent full control of her faculties?-- If that became apparent to you, then you would go up to the sister in charge of the ward and ask her was she on any sort of sedation.

You'd make some inquiry?-- You'd make inquiry, yes.

And finally, Mrs Cattanach, can I ask you these couple of questions. In terms of a young, unmarried mother who you were visiting for the purpose of taking a consent, if that lady was under the age of majority, under the age of 21, did you take any steps to have a parent or family member or some independent person there?-- No.

Thank you. I have nothing further,

MR DAUBNEY (for the state): Why not?-- Why not?--- that would be seen as inviting parental pressure.

You were asked some questions about the circumstance where a birth mother had been in one of the institutions under care and control prior to being admitted to hospital for delivery. You have a copy of a report of investigation before you there?-- Mmm-hmm.

Under the mother's details do you see, Address prior to birth: Holy Cross"?-- Mmm-hmm.

How many Holy Crosses were there in Brisbane in 1967?-- One.

And what was your understanding as a child-care officer of Holy Cross?-- It was a - virtually a, secure institution for teenage girls who had proved one way or another that they were somewhat unmanageable.

It was one of the institutions about which you were talking about before, was it?-- Yes, one of the institutions, yes.

You were asked questions about a mother being administered with milk suppressing medication?-- Mmm.

At the risk of stating the obvious, would one need to have recourse to the hospital file in order to ascertain when the administration of that medication commenced?-- Well, if you were there to take a consent, really, that doesn't come into it but it could have well---I worked at the hospital so long, most of the staff there knew me and they allowed me to browse through files, the hospital files and things, and to go through the nurseries and examine the babies myself.

Sorry, I think we're talking at cross-purposes?-- We're talking -----

I'm talking about the - a note - if a note was kept of when the administration of that medication ----- ?-- Oh, it would be on the file, yes.

That would be on the file?-- That would be on the file, in the doctor's writing.

And you would need to have a look at the file to be able to find out when the dosage started?-- Yes.

And when it finished?-- Yes.

And so on. The same would apply to any sedatives or any other medication?-- Mmm, mmm.

That the mother had been on, antibiotics, whatever?-- Yes

You'd need to refer to the file?~~ Mmm.

In order to see when the medication started, what the dosages were, when the medication was ceased and so on?-- But that would be unnecessary from our point of view. They're just there to see her. It would only be if there was some sort of sedative that she'd been given.

I understand that. I suppose what I'm asking is that's where the record would be?-- That's where the record would be.

Thank you, your Honour.

May Mrs Cattanach please be excused?

HIS HONOUR: Mrs Cattanach, you spoke of child care officers visiting institutions. When you mentioned that, did you have in mind an institution such as Holy Cross in 1967?-- Yes, it was one of them.

Can you recall now with what frequency child-care officers went to Holy Cross at that time?-- It would be up to the child-care officer involved as to how often they went, how often they saw the necessity to attend. I had nothing to do with Holy Cross myself at all. I was involved with another girls' institution on the side of town.

Is there anything arising out of that?

MR WILSON: No, your Honour.

MR DAUBNEY: Excuse me, your Honour. No, thank you, your Honour. Unless your Honour has anything further?

HIS HONOUR: Thank you, Mrs Cattanach, you're excused from further attendance.

Witness Statements:

Eunice Lillian Feil - Social Worker - Consent Taker.



MR DAUBNEY (for the state): Is your full name Eunice Lillian Feil?--

That's correct.

Thank you. Were you formerly employed at the Department of Children's Services?-- Yes.

Were you employed in the Department of Children's Services from about 1967?-- From 1967, yes..

Before that had you trained as a nurse?--


When did you do your nurse's training?-- Well, I did my nursing - my general nursing training three years at Toowoomba Hospital, between the years 1942, 43. Then I went to the Brisbane Women's Hospital and completed my obstetrics and midwifery training in 1945. I then - I'm not too sure of the exact year but I decided to do my child welfare training which I also did in Brisbane at St Paul's Terrace and I think that was the next certificate, ndrsing certificate which I obtained. It could well be that before I did that I went down to Victoria and nursed down there for some time and did another post-graduate course in infectious diseases nursing. I think I did that before I did my child welfare training.

After I finished my child welfare training and gained that certificate in maternal and child welfare I worked at Biloela. I went up and worked at the maternal and child welfare clinic in Biloela. We looked after the Biloela mothers and babies and also opened up clinics in all the surrounding country areas.

And then after I left Biloela I went back to Toowoomba and worked at the Toowoomba maternal and child welfare clinic and surrounding areas for another year. And do you want me to go on from here?

And in what job were you employed in at the Department of Children's Services?-- I was employed as a child-care officer.

Right. And as a child-care officer were you one of the people authorised to take consents for adoption ----- ?-- Yes, that's --- ---from mothers?-- Yes, that's correct.

Right. And where were the mothers or at which hospitals were the mothers?-- Well, they were at - the majority, I suppose, were at the Brisbane Women's Hospital but there were also mothers surrendering babies for adoption at the Mater Mother's Hospital, at Boothville Salvation Army Hospital at Windsor and occasionally at the Corinda Maternity Hospital.

How often - sorry, I will say that again. How often did you attend at the hospitals in those days for the purposes of taking consents for adoption?-- We went to the hospital three days a week, I think it was Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from memory, but the mothers, of course, were not allowed to sign a consent until I think - within five days after the birth unless a legally qualified medical practitioner gave a certificate stating that the mother was in a fit condition to give a consent early. So the mother's were really all ready to leave the hospital by the time we arrived to take the consent.

How did you find out which mothers to go to for the purposes of taking the consents? What was the process that ----- ?-- Well, the process was, as I remember it, in the 1960s single mothers who came to the Brisbane Women's Hospital to give birth would have been spoken to by Miss Robinson.

Miss Robinson was a middle aged lady at the time, a clerk at the hospital and I think she was responsible for seeing that the child's birth was registered. She was also required to partly complete another form called the Report of Investigation regarding all single mothers.

All right?-- This was in compliance with 85 - section 85 of the Children's Services Act said that the birth of the babies from all the single mothers had to be reported to the director of the Children's Services Department and he was responsible for making sure that these children were being adequately cared for.

So, Miss Robinson probably would have spoken to the lady concerned in this complaint and she would have ascertained the details required for the registration of the birth and she would have partly completed this form or the Report of Investigation form and at that time she would have asked the mother if she was keeping the child or having it adopted, and when mothers advised Miss Robinson that they were having the baby adopted she would write on the bottom of the sheet "baby for adoption".

MR DAUBNEY: She would write that on the bottom of the Report of Investigation form?--I can't say 1 didn't because this is a long time ago and - 30 years ago, so it's a bit difficult to remember but I can't recall seeing any mothers who were undecided about adoption.

All right. So, when you went to see or when you saw the forms that indicated that the baby was for adoption would you then go and see the mother?-- Yes.

And did you have a----- ?-- baby's nursery ----- I would first of all go to the baby’s nursery

Yes? -- ----- and see the baby. The baby's medical documents were made available to me and I would - by this time a paediatrician would have examined the baby and decided - made a comment regarding the baby's fitness for adoption or if the baby wasn't fit for adoption, they would make a comment as to - as to why it wasn't fit for adoption, but I would first of all do this before I went to the mother.

Then when you went to the mother, assuming that the baby was fit for adoption, did you have a regular practice of how you dealt with the mother?-- Oh, yes, yes.

What did you?-- Regarding the babies who weren't fit for adoption, we - it didn't mean that we - that we didn't - we didn't take an adoption consent because a lot of them could be adopted later on. I am just trying to think. 1 mean, if they were a young single mother and they had no way of looking after the child we didn't - we didn't say that their child couldn't be adopted, but we - we would have perhaps taken longer to place those babies to adopted parents because they might have had some - some health problem that not all adopted parents would want to accept.

We had what was called in those days a deferred adoption list and we had a special lot of parents who were willing to take a child who perhaps wasn't perfectly medically or what was called medically fit for adoption. So, I mean, if the mother had no way of caring for the child the director would still take it into care.

Right. Coming back, then, mothers ----- ?-~ Yes

----to you going to talk to the mothers.

----- can you tell his Honour what process, you went through when yon were talking with the mothers about consent for adoption?-- Yes, yes. Well, I would go to the ward where the mother was, which was indicated on the forms that had been given to me.

I would approach the mother and tell her that I'd come to take the consent to the adoption of her child. I'd introduce myself, say who I was, where I was from. I would find a secluded part of the hospital which - where we could speak privately.

From memory, I think it was usually the solarium of the hospital which was a large area up one end of the hospital ward. We'd both sit down and I'd produce a form of general consent by a parent or guardian to an adoption order. I'd then - I'd write - 1 had the child's name. The mothers had been asked to name the child when they were - Miss Robinson registered their birth, and I would write the

Single mothers or mothers not married to the father of the child who had indicated to Miss Robinson they were keeping the child would also have the same Report of Investigation form partly completed by Miss Robinson and at the bottom of this form would be printed "baby not for adoption".

So, when we arrived at the hospital we would go into the office and see

Miss Robinson and she would hand us this - these forms and - which were all to be taken back to the Department of Children's Services in compliance with section 85 of the Children's Services Act.

This section was later deleted, I might add, some years later because it was felt that it discriminated against single mothers. And, anyway, we would - we would be concerned with the sheets - the forms that Miss Robinson had filled out.

All right. So you'd collect the forms and you'd mention that some of the forms would have "baby not for adoption" written on them; that is correct?-- That's correct, yeah, that's correct.

Did you have anything to do with those mothers where the form said "baby not for adoption"?-- No, nothing.

What did you ----- ?-- I purely put the forms in my bag and took them back to the Children's Services Department. I didn't see them at all. I was only concerned with the forms the one from mothers where Miss Robinson had written on the form "baby for adoption".

Did you ever encounter any situations where the mother at that time was undecided as to whether the baby was going to be adopted?-- I will just think for a moment. I can't recall

child's name at the top of the form. From memory I think it would have said, "In the matter of such and such a child".

The child - and then that would be followed by the mother's name, the mother's full name and address, who was named on the form as being the mother of the child who was born at Brisbane in the State of Queensland on - whatever date it was, and the mother - I then passed that consent form over to the mother and ask her to read it through from beginning to end.

And after she'd read it through?-- After she'd read it through I'd ask her if she understood it and if she couldn't read I'd read it through fully from beginning to end. The mother would hand the form back to me and then I would read out aloud the points that were very important with the consent.

MR DAUBNEY: What were the very important points with the consent?-- Well, I will just refer to a note I have made here for a moment. It is an important point. I have lost my notes, but anyway I can remember it. The important part of the consent was that the mother understood the nature and effect of an adoption, order which application may be made. That was one point I remember on the form.

And what did the mother need to understand about the nature and effect of the adoption order?-- Excuse me. I will have to just look at the consent and I can read it to you - exactly what I said to them.

Are you looking for a form of consent, are you?-- Yes. -------A form of general consent?-- I have it now. Yes, form of general consent.

Right?-- It said, section 1, "I understand the nature, and effect of the adoption order for which application may be made", and I would read this out aloud to her then. "In particular I understand that the effect of such order will be to deprive me permanently and totally of my parental rights in relation to the said child".

So I sort of emphasised that and I said, "Now do you understand that?", and when they said yes, they understood it I'd continue, they "consented to the making of an adoption order in respect of the child in favour of any person whose application for adoption order had been approved by the director", and then I'd - on this form I would cross out - there was a part there where it said, "The consent of such and such a person who is the father of the said child is also required".

Well, I'd cross that out and I'd get the mother to initial that later because these mothers were all single mothers and it wasn't as though it was a legitimate child being adopted. We occasionally had legitimate children being adopted, but in this case no other –

I would read that, "No other person is required to consent to the adoption of the said child and then I would ask the mother if she wanted the child brought up in any particular religious faith.

The majority of mothers didn't have any great preference regarding this and we would write in there, "Child to be brought up in any faith", but the Catholic mothers very often said they -who were raised Catholics themselves - very often said they desired that child would be brought up in the Roman Catholic faith and if that was what they said that was what was written, because back at - we kept full adoption lists of people.

Catholics who wanted to adopt a boy, Catholics who wanted to adopt a girl, Protestants who wanted to adopt a boy or Protestants who wanted to adopt a girl, and anyway having - having satisfied myself that the mother understood this.

I would ask her to sign the consent and I would also - I don't think at that - if I remember rightly in those days there was anything on the form that the mothers signed back in 1967 that said anything about revocation of consent but I would explain to the birth mother that if she signed an adoption consent but later changed her mind about having the child adoption she had 30 days from the day she signed the consent or until an adoption order was made, whichever was the earlier -----

All right? -- ----- in which she could revoke her consent to the adoption. And 1 gave each mother a departmental card with the address and phone number of the department and told them if they changed their mind about having their child adopted and wished to revoke their consent to the adoption to come in to the department to ring up and/or come in to the department immediately.

And I did stress to them that adoption orders for children because the number of children being given up for adoption - children that had been - were doing well and the paediatrician had said were medically fit for adoption they were placed fairly soon and - so the mother didn't have too long in which she could revoke her consent unless the child for some reason was kept in the hospital for 30 days.

What about the mothers seeing the child, did you forbid mothers from - in this situation ----- ?-- No, no.

----- from seeing their children?-- No, no, no, never. No, the babies that were up for adoption were always on a different floor of--the hospital to where the mother was, so it meant that I - I took the mother and - before she signed the consent I took the mother down to the nursery where the baby was and spoke, to the - whoever was in charge in the nursery and the baby's cot was wheeled over to the door of the nursery glass door and the baby looked--- the mother looked at the child through the door of the nursery.

I can't remember - I don't think any mothers ever asked me if they could hold the child. I can't remember any. If they had have I think --- whoever was in charge of the nursery would have given them permission to hold the child but I - I don't recall anyone ever asking me to do that.

MR DAUBNEY: Do you remember this--- when you started working at the Department of Children Services, did you undergo any training or course of studies with the department?-- Oh, yes, yes, yeah. Yes.

Do you recall what that was?-- Yes. I made a few notes here about that, if you would bear with me for a moment. Yes, that started soon after I was appointed as child-care officer. It was a two-year - what they called a two-year in-service training course, attending lectures two nights a week for two years I think it was. It was at least two years, mmm.

I think it was two years. Subjects studied were psychology, child guidance law and administration, and the lectures were given by doctors and psychologists from the Child Guidance Clinic and also by a member of the legal profession.

And I think we had a few little exams along the way if 1 remember rightly. At the end of the course, though, we had a - one big exam which went on for two - two nights. I was successful in passing this examination in all subjects we'd studied.

I don't think there's much more I can say about that. I had done a fair bit of reading by that time.

MR DAUBNEY: All right. Did you know Jay Whalley?-- Yeah, I know - I worked with her for several years. I knew Jay, yes,

Were you friendly with her?—Yes, yes, we were friends. Didn't see each other away from work but we were friends. Would you like me to say my opinion of Jay Whalley or?

No, perhaps if you can just listen to the question and answer the questions as we ask them?-- Yes, yes.

How long did you work with Jay Whalley for?-- That's a bit of a hard one.

What, several years or many years?-- several years.

Oh, several years,

All right?--

I'd say, yes, several - several years.

And.- and ----- ?-- I retired, still working there, I think, well - 1 retired 1984 and she was then. 1967 to 84 I knew her.

Yes. During that time did you observe her work practices?-- Yes. Oh, yes. I. didn't closely observe it because we were so busy doing our own work but, yes, I thought she was a very capable lady.

She's been described in these proceedings as being not friendly in her dealings with a prospective adoption mother, as being dominating, as bombarding the mother with information or requests or statements, as threatening the mother with ----- ?-- What was that?

With threatening the mother?-- Threat - threatening.

With bad things happening to the mother, if she didn't give her baby up for adoption. Is that --- --?-- What's the last little bit you said?

Threatening the mother?--Threatening, yes.

MR DAUBNEY: With bad things if the mother didn't give the baby up for adoption. Is that ----- ?-- No, that doesn't describe Jay Whalley. No, no, I don't think she was that type of woman. I had -----

Well, just ----- ?-- I never saw her attesting to an adoption consent but I think - knowing her as long as I did, I think she was a woman of integrity and that she - she would

have - she would have read through the consent form and explained to the mother that in signing the form she was giving up all parental rights to the child and she would have also, of course, asked her if she wanted the child to be brought up in any particular religious faith.

But in terms of the emotional sort of terms that have been used, her threatening and being dominating and that sort of thing, was that consistent with the Jay Whalley that you knew?-- No, not at all. ----Not at all.

Stay there, Ms Feil, there’ll be some more questions now from Mr Wilson. Thank you, your Honour, that's the evidence of this witness.

MR WILSON (for the plaintiff):

Ms Feil, can you hear me?-- Yes, Mr Wilson.

When in 1967 did you start work as a child-care officer?- Yes.

Do you recall what part of the year?--

Do I recall it?

Mmmm?-- Oh, yes, very well.

When did you start?-- I don't know the exact date.

Do you recall whether you worked most of 1967 with the department or did you start towards the end of the year?-- Look, I'd have to - I'd have to look it up. If I see - I was attested to take consents for adoption in 1967, so -----

Now., you've obviously got some documents in front of you there, have you?—

Oh, I've just got a few notes that I've made but I haven't got the date of my starting work as a child-care officer. 1 don't know where that would be. I'd probably have to ask them in at the department.

What notes have you got in front of you?-- Oh, just notes I've trying to think of what I might be asked today.

And have you got copies of documents such as the general form of consent?-- I've got a copy of that, yes.

The report of investigation?--

I haven't got that.

Any other documents?-- No, no, I've just got a copy of an adoption consent, which I think might have been added on to - I don't think it's quite the same consent that 1 would have taken back in those days. I think it's slightly different but I have got a current form of consent.

Whenever you started in 1967 with the department, do you agree that there were then four child-care officers who were responsible for taking consents?-- I don't know.

Do you know A lady by the name of Mary Cattanach?~- Yes.

And you knew Jay Whalley?-- Yes.

And yourself?-- Yes.

Was there anyone else who took consents?-- I've got - I've got a list here somewhere, if you'll bear with me, and I’ll read through the list and see if I can see a name I recognise.

Well, no,

I--- --?-- Pardon?

Had you finished?-- Well, do you want me to have a look at this list?

MR WILSON:All I wanted to know, really, Ms Feil, was whether there was a small group of you who were entrusted with this task of taking consents and I have suggested to you that there were really four of you, perhaps one person in addition to yourself, Ms Whalley and Mrs Cattanach?-- Well, I've found the list now.

People who were attested - authorised in writing to take consents, and I'm just going through it. There's a Margatet Garrett. She was a child-care officer and she - she - at the time, appointed about the same time as I was. She could have been attested. According to this list, she could take consents.

There was Suzanne Trevenan, who left.later to be married, and Patricia Trusdale. They could have both taken consents about that time. They were also child-care officers mentioned on this list.

It sounds like there were a number of people who were entrusted to take these consents; is that right?—

Well, I - I - according to this list I've got here that came to me, I think, from Mr Dearloves office, and there were a number of people, yes.

Now, you said that you were attested to take consents?-- Mmm

What did that involve? Did you have to pass some test or complete some paperwork, or what was involved in you being one of the people who was attested to take consents?—

Well, I think the very fact that I'd been appointed as a child-care officer and all my - I might - I didn't add when I was talking about my experience as a child-care officer I was also a Justice of the Peace at the time. But I would say my qualifications as a child-care officer were considered sufficient -----

And -----?-- ----- to make me capable of taking an adoption consent.

And it is the case that you were attested to take adoption consents literally from when you started work as a child-care officer and not after you had completed the course of training that you've spoken about?-- That's probably correct, yeah.

In the course of training that you've spoken about ----- ?-- I - I don't think I took any adoption consents before I - in 1967 1 might add. And Jay Whalley had been at the department for longer than I had at the time. I don't know how long she was there before I arrived. But I don't remember taking consents for a few years after that, probably about in mid-1970 I think. I'm not sure.

So the procedure you have spoken about in terms of going to the hospital?-- Yes.

MR WILSON: And the various things that you did was all the matters that you attended to from 1970 onwards?-- Well, I don't think it had changed. I think it - I think - I think it was the same - it would have been the same.

Ms Robinson was there in 1967 and I recognise her - her writing on something - some form I looked at the other nights on the TV of all places -----

But I just ----- ?-- I don't think there'd have been any change in the - any change. The consent form was just the same in 1967 as it would have been in 1970.

Do you know when the change was made to the consent form to include the information about revocation of the consent?-- Well, no, I don't know but I notice this consent form that I have been given recently to read to help me with this has got something on it about revocation of consent.

I don't think, from memory, that the consent that was signed -.the consents that I took even in 1970, I don't think they - they had anything on the consent form about revocation. I don't know when that was added.

But do I understand it correctly that the evidence you gave about what occurred when a consent was taken was evidence of what you did from 1970 onwards?-- Well, I don't really know. I worked in the adoption section from 1972 to 1976 and I know what I did then but prior to that, I - I was from time to time -asked to go to the hospital and take adoption consents. So - what was your question again?

The evidence you've given, and you gave it at some length, about going to the hospital, speaking to Ms Robinson ----- ?-- Yes.

----- going to see the mother ----- ?-- Yes

-----the process that you went through?-- Yes.

I just wanted to make sure that that was evidence of what you did from 1970 onwards?-- Well, I know I was at the hospital in 1969 because I spoke to Ms Whitty, the social worker at the hospital in 1969, and she told me I was there then..

So I would say I took occasional consents at the hospital. I didn't do it full time. I did it full-time from 1972 to 1976. But I would have been up there, I think, prior to that. I was told - I probably did it for a few weeks at a time.

Can I ask you this then?-- Hmm?

Can I ask you this?-- Yes.

Either in your employment with the department or in this course of training that you were given, was any, attention drawn to any procedures that should be followed when consents were taken?-- I don't - I don't know to be quite honest.

When you went to take a consent?-- Mmm.

Did you do that by yourself?--.Yes.

There was never anyone else present?--

No, no.

MR WILSON: Can I ask you this: if you went to visit a mother who was a minor, under age, did that make any difference to the procedure that you followed?-- I don't think so.

If there was any - if there was any doubt about the mother's capacity to understand what she was signing ---

I can remember one instance I asked the mother's - the mother's - I think it was her brother, from memory, to be present when she took the consent - when I - when I took the consent.

I'm going to ----- ?-- But, no, no, not as a rule. It didn’t really make a difference, the age of the mother. ---

Did you make - I'm sorry, I'll start again. If the young mother that you were going to visit was a person who was the subject of an order for care and control by the Director of Children's Services, did that make a difference to the approach you took?--

Well, I've thought about this. I can't recall ever - ever taking a consent from a girl who was in care and control. I don't think 1 ever did. I think I'd remember if I - if I had have done so.

You have given evidence that the report of investigation that you received may have a notation on it, "Baby for adoption"?-- Yes.

Or, "Baby not for adoption"?-- That’s right.

Do you recall seeing reports where there was a question mark as to whether the child was for adoption or not?-- I didn't recall - I didn't - did you say I recalled it?

No, do you recall ----- ?-- don't.

Oh, do I recall.

No, I don't

Was it your practice only to take a consent from a mother who had made a decision to put her child up for adoption?-- That's correct, yes,yes.

Did you ever have to deal with a mother who was uncertain as to whether or not to put her child up for adoption?-- No, by the time I talked to the mother - mothers were tearful and sad about putting a child up for adoption but they'd made their decision and they were - they were ready to sign the consent by the time I - I saw them.

Were there some mothers who were uncertain when you first met them but that uncertainty was removed after you'd finished speaking to them?-- No, I don't think so. I think - I can't recall seeing any mothers.who - who - some mothers were sad about the whole process but I cant'remember seeing a mother who wasn't ready to sign the consent.

Did I understand your evidence correctly that the babies who were to be adopted were kept in a nursery on a different floor ----- ?-- That's correct.

----- to the birth mothers?-- Yes.

MR WILSON: And the birth mothers were in the unmarried mothers' ward?-- No, there was no unmarried mothers' ward, not at - I don't recall any unmarried mothers' ward. The mothers were in with all of the other mothers, as they.were scattered all over the hospital.

You're saying that women who had given birth and were putting up their child for adoption were in the same ward as mothers who were breastfeeding their babies?-- Well, I don't recall them being held in a separate wards, so they must have been I suppose.

Do you recall whether - I'm sorry, I'll start that again. As 1 understood your evidence, before you went to see the mother, and before you had the consent for adoption form signed, you first visited the nursery to have a look at the baby?-- Yes.

And there had been certain babies as it were earmarked for adoption?-- By the time I - I visited the nursery and I saw the babies whom I'd been informed had been given up for adoption - would you mind repeating your question.


The nursery that you went to?-- Yes.

Contained those babies who were, I use the word "earmarked" or selected or given up, however you want to describe it, for adoption?-- Yes.

They were kept in a separate nursery?-- Yes.

Is that because the mother wasn't permitted to see the baby?--

The mother was permitted to see the baby.

And you went there first?-- Yes, because I wanted to be able to tell the mother about the baby, if it was - if it was well and ------

MR WILSON: Well, why would you need to tell the mother whether the baby was well or not?-- Oh, I would just tell her that I'd seen the baby. I wouldn't - I don't know if I'd tell her the baby was well. I'd tell her I'd seen the child because I wanted to know before I went to the mother if the paediatrician had - who examined the child had said that the baby was medically fit for adoption.

When you took consents from birth mothers, apart from filling in the form of general consent, a copy of which you have in front of you, did you make any separate notes on the hospital file of the mother?-- No.

Did you make any separate notes or report to the Department of Children Services?-- What do you mean by separate notes?

Like a file note of an interview that you had with the mother, case notes, however you want to describe it, of the conversation that you had with the birth mother?-- No. No, I don't think I did. I went back and talked to the placement officer about the mother and the baby and gave as much

and -----

So in terms of your discussions with the birth mother- ---- ?-- MMM.

----- the only document that was generated as a result of that was the form of general consent, which she signed and I presume you signed as well?-- I signed it as a witness.

Yes. And the birth mother would have signed it as well?-. Exactly. Yes.

But you didn't make any other notes which were attached to that or formed part of the file which you then passed on elsewhere in the department?-- Oh, I would - I would have made some notes about the young lady whom I'd seen.

When would you have done that?-- Oh, when I - when I went back to the office before I - you know, the personality of the mother, that type of thing.

Did you do that in every case?--

Yes. Yes, I did.

Are you sure about that?-- Well, I’ll just make sure what -you're asking me is correct. I'd go back - I'd have written down a fair bit about the physical attributes of the mother, her height, her colouring -----

Isn't that information all on the report of investigation?-- It would - I think it was on a report called "Expected Child For Adoption"; I'm not quite sure. But -----


MR WILSON: let's deal with these forms?--- Mmm.

There's a report of investigation?--- Mmm.

Do you accept that?-- Do I what?

Do you accept that there was a document called "Report of Investigation"?-- Yes, yes.

And that's a document that you were given when you went to the hospital?-- Yes.

And do you accept that that document contained details of the physical characteristics of the mother?-- Yes.

And the father where that information was supplied?-- right.

And it also contained details of the religion of the mother?-- Yes, I think it did.

Particulars of the name of the child?-- Yes.

The date of birth of the child?-- I think it - I don't know, it probably had that on it. It's hard to remember. It's so many years ago.

And the date - I'm sorry, and the place where the birth mother was in the hospital?-- The what?

The place where the birth mother was in the hospital, that is, what ward she was in and what bed she was in?-- No, I don't know - yeah, well, it - it would have had that on it, otherwise I wouldn't have known where to have found the birth mother.

Exactly?-- -Mmm.

And you have also referred to a questionnaire of an expected child for adoption?-- Yes.

Is that another document that you were given at the hospital?-- No, I wasn't given that document at the hospital. That was - that was a document that we made out later. See, these - these report of investigation - I made out - when I went back to the - the office, I made out a separate form for passing on to the placement officer. The placement officer didn't receive the report of investigation form.

And the form that you passed on to the placement officer was -that described as the questionnaire for expected child for adoption form?-- From memory, I - I think it was. On that form I would have described the name of the mother, the age of the mother, all her physical characteristics, her occupation, her education.

Yes?-- Her family.

And details ----- ?-- Her - her health, any hereditary history in her family of illnesses such as epilepsy, diabetes, things that should have been passed on to the adoptive parents.

Whether she'd had any previous children?-- No, that wouldn't have been put on it.

Any social interests that the mother had?-- Yes, that was put on it.

And any general remarks that you might have?-- Yes, and something about the personality of the mother and -----

Had you finished your answer, Ms Feil?-- Yes, I think so

On that form you would also include the particulars you were given, in particular the father of the child?--.Yes, that's correct, yes.

When you said before you would make notes of the mother and your discussions with her, can I suggest to you the notes were made on this form, that is the questionnaire "Expected Child For Adoption"?-- It was on the form that I gave to the placement officer.

Yes?-- I think it might have been "Expected Child For Adoption". It is difficult to remember, but it was on a different form. It wasn't - 1 didn't hand the report of investigation form to Ms McDonald. I wrote out another form

I understand that?-- Mmm.

MR WILSON: Now, I may have misunderstood your evidence before but did you say that those reports of investigation which were marked, "Babies not for adoption" or, "Baby not for adoption"?-- Yes.

You might still have taken a consent?-- you - say that again, please.

I said I may have misunderstood your earlier evidence. I was asking you whether there were circumstances where a report of investigation contained the comment, "Baby not for adoption"?-- "Not for adoption", no, no -----

Whether you would have still taken a consent because?------ Because the mother might have changed her mind?-- No, I wouldn't have.- The baby is not for adoption, if that was marked on the on the mother's form, I wouldn't have - I wouldn't have gone near the mother. I wouldn't have approached the mother. I only approached the mothers whose forms were marked "baby for adoption".

And you never ----- ?-- And - I mean, some of these mothers whose babies weren't for adoption, they were older women. They were quite possibly living in a stable de facto relationship but they weren't married to the father of the child and I didn't - didn't go near them.

You said that when you spoke to the birth mother you found a secluded part of the hospital to speak to them at?-- Yes.

Did you make any inquiries as to the mother's capacity at the time to understand what was occurring; that is, whether she was on any medication or drugs?-- I don't think so, but I - I would have known from my nursing experience if that were the case.

But, no, I think had that been the case that the sister in charge of the ward who would have been well aware that I was there would have told me if the mother was on any medication or drugs. I think I would have been informed by the nursing staff.

MR WILSON: And you agree that you would also form your own impression from your experience as a nurse?-- I probably would. Oh well, I don't know about medication, but if the mother was drugged I would have known. I mean, I never came across a mother who was drugged but I - I think I would have known if the mother was under the influence of drugs.

And in those circumstances you wouldn't take a consent?-- Well - oh, no, no. It never happened. If I thought a mother was under the influence of drugs, sedation, that type of thing, I wouldn't have taken a consent.

There was some social stigma attached to single unmarried mothers, young, unmarried mothers in the 1960s, wasn't there?-- Oh, yes, a good deal.

When discussing with those people placing their baby for adoption - placing her baby for adoption, did you discuss the pros and cons of that course of action?-- Well, I didn't - I didn't go into great detail about that. I suppose I was in a a position to tell the mothers that we had quite a long waiting list of people who'd been approved by the director as being suitable people to adopt a child and if they decided if - if they had decided to have their child adopted we were confident that the child could be placed with suitable adoptive parents.

Can I ask you then whether your practice was this, and when you took the consents perhaps in 1969 but from 1970 onwards that you only took them from mothers who had already agreed to put up their babies for adoption? Do you agree with that?-- Yes, yes.

That in those circumstances you didn't have any discussions with the mothers about the pros and, cons of giving their child up for adoption?-- No. I didn't go into-----

You had the mother ----- ?-- I mean, I assured them that the -baby would be well cared for if it was given up for adoption but I didn't go into the pros and cons if the mother had

signified when she entered the hospital that her baby was for adoption. I wouldn't - I wouldn't have gone into any pros and cons.

You simply had that person sign the form of consent after making sure they understood?-- Yes. I certainly went over it thoroughly with them and made sure they realised what they were doing.

And that would make no difference whether the person was over or under the age of 21 years?-- No, no, no, no.

Or indeed whether they were under the age of 18 years?-- I don't think it would have.


Thank you.

Witness Statements:

ELIZABETH ANN MARKS - (nurse who attended the birth of my son and who held me down)


MR WILSON (for the plaintiff): Miss Marks, can you hear me?--Yes, I can

It's Keith Wilson, counsel for Mrs Arthur speaking. During what period of time did you work at the Brisbane Women's Hospital?-- Well, I have been - I worked there in 1967. I think 1 had three years there because I finished up there in 1968 as the registered midwife. I was there for about three years, I feel, at that time.

So 1966 until 1968?-- about that. Probably. As I remember, probably.

Were you a trainee nurse at that time?-- I was a registered midwife.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood you. I thought you completed your qualifications in 1968?-- No, I completed my qualifications at the Royal Women's Hospital - no, wait a minutes It was the Women's Hospital in Victoria.

Yes?-- Yes, I completed my training there as a midwife and I was employed on the registered staff at that time at the Royal Women's or the Brisbane Women's, as it was then known.

During your employment at the women's hospital were you employed exclusively in the capacity as a midwife in the labour wards?-- No. We worked around. We worked in the delivery wards and in the - in the - oh, delivery section and also in the nurseries. We worked around. We didn't - we weren't always in the labour ward.

But always in the wards of the hospital that dealt with either birth or new born children?-- Yes, yes.

MR WILSON: And in your employment at the hospital you would have been involved in the birth of hundreds if not thousands of children?-- Oh, yes, yes.

So it wouldn't be possible for you to remember any individual one of them?-- No.

Can I ask you this: in 1967 ---- ?-- Yes...---during the birth of a child ?-- Yes -immediately after the birth of a child? Yes. ----- wasn't it normal practice for the baby to be given to the mother?-- As I recall, yes, that would be right. So that a bond could be formed between the two? That’s as I recall it.

Do you know of any circumstances where the child would be not shown to the mother?-- It's difficult to answer.

Was that the practice when children were born of unmarried single women?-- Well, I really - I mean, there weren't that many. I mean, when you think of it - that's 37 years ago - and there weren't many children that were not as far as I can remember, you know, there were not many children born for adoption, three or four, maybe, in the nursery, as I remember.

You think only three or four children were born during the three years that you worked at the hospital who were put up for adoption?-- Well, I mean, we always had adoption children- in our nurseries.

Yes?-- And from what I can - every now and then there would be one or two or three at the most, but there seemed to be always children for adoption in our nurseries.

Was there a separate nursery kept for children to be put up for adoption?-- They were, and they - they had alias names so as the nursing staff we didn't know who the children belonged to. They had alias names.

And do I understand from that, that if you didn't know who the children belonged to, the children wouldn't be taken to their mothers? No. They were - they were nursed by the staff in a separate nursery, as I recall it.

And if it was apparent that the child was to be put up for adoption ----- ?-- Yes. -.----you said it was given an alias name?-- That's right

MR WILSON: Do you also agree that it would not be the case that that child would be named by the mother?-- Well, I wouldn't have understood that. I wouldn't have known that. The only names we knew the child - the children by were the little alias names on their cot. So, I don't know whether the mother gave that name or what, because that was in the hands of a separate department to the nursing staff. We had no dealings with that really.

Those children who were given alias names ----- ?-- Yes. ----- were they ones who were known to be put up for immediately from the time of their birth?-- Yes.

In terms of those children who were named by their mother?-- Yes.

Were they taken to a separate nursery?—Would you repeat that?

In respect of those children who were born - sorry, when named by their mother, were they taken to a separate nursery?-- I can't answer. I don't know how to answer that question.

Were there any children - you said earlier that there was a separate nursery?-- Yes

For children who were to be adopted or babies who were to be adopted?-- That's right, yes. That's right.

If the mother had named her baby so it was known whose baby it was, that child wouldn't have been put in the nursery for children - for babies that were being put up for adoption?-- No, I wouldn't think so.

MR WILSON: Now, you said that you recall only a small number of instances where you were aware that people were to be put up for adoption. Do you recall whether it was the practice in those cases not to show the child to the mother at birth?-- No, I can't recall that. 1 really can't recall that.

Do you recall whether or not in the case of mothers who had delivered children which were to be put up for adoption, that those mothers were administered medication to suppress their lactation?-- That's a difficult one.

Do you remember a drug called Stilboestrol?-- Well, it. I know of it.

What does it do?-- Well, it's a hormonal yes. It probably would decrease lactation,

Do you recall whether mothers who had delivered children who had been put up for adoption would be given Stilboestrol?-- No, I can't recall that, I'm sorry.

Excuse me. May I then ask you this: if a mother gives birth to a child and asks to see the child, is that something that would ordinarily be done, the mother's wishes would be accorded to?

HIS HONOUR: The inquiry was put in the present tense.

MR WILSON: I'm 1967 ----- ?-~ Yes. ----- if a mother asked to see the child?-- Well, she wouldn’t ask the nursing staff, that’s for sure.

Who would she ask?-- Well, I - all - all the adoption children were in a different - they were seen by the - a different section of the hospital

Which section was that?-- Well they had -they had the adoption people who would come and see them and speak with them. That was sort of separate to our work.

So in the case of those children who were identified as being put up for adoption, is it your evidence that the nurses then had no part to play in deciding whether or not the baby should be taken to the mother?-- That's right. It wasn't our jurisdiction at all.

I have no further questions, your Honour


MS PHILIPSON (for the defense): Ms Markes, it is Kay Philipson again. 1967 when you were working at the hospital?-- Yes. In May.

Did you have any dealings with mothers in relation to them giving their children up for adoption, or was that - you spoke of a separate section to your work, or "our work" I think you described it?-- Well, the mothers were nursed just the same as everybody else as far as I can remember. They weren't in any special rooms or separate to mothers. Only the babies were separated as far as I can remember.

Did you have any dealings with any mothers in relation to them actually giving up their children for adoption, or was your role .purely a nursing role?-- Only in their general care. We would only - in their general well being, in their care while they were in the hospital.

So your knowledge of any practices in relation to the adoption of children is limited to the evidence you have given today?-- That's right. Yes.


Enter supporting content here

Contact Us

Origins Queensland Supporting People Separated by Adoption