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Echoes of the Past:
The Foundation of Our Story

Between 1946 and 1960 more than 60 Aboriginal boys lived at St Francis House in Adelaide, South Australia. Among them boys who were some of the first Aboriginal people to pursue university education and became leaders in government, business, sport, the arts, academia and political activism who fought to improve rights and living conditions for Aboriginal people across Australia. Their achievements had a multi-generational impact.

The final ‘Bringing Them Home’ report of the “National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families was handed down in the Australian Parliament in May 1997.

The official report included an extract from Isabel and her son John’s evidence which described the terrible conditions at “The Bungalow” in Alice Springs based on Percy’s diaries and notes.

The report recommended an official apology be offered by the Australian Government for past government welfare policies, which had separated children from parents on racial grounds.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tabled a formal apology in Parliament on 13 February 2008. Acknowledging the mistakes of the past.

It is important to understand the past.

The past is always influencing the present. We cannot change that. All we can do it try to better understand it.

Percy McDonald Smith died in 1982. He was 79.

Twenty years later Isabel died peacefully in 2002. Aged 88.

Twenty years later their only son John P McD Smith died in 2022.

This film is dedicated to his memory, his love for his parents and his Aboriginal brothers.

More information about St Francis House can be found at:

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Be part of telling this powerful untold story. Your donation will help cover production costs – everything from passionate actors, to cameras and lighting to costumes and hiring locations such as the famous Glanville Hall. For a limited time, contributions over $50 will receive a special thanks in the movie credits. Join us and make a difference