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“I know Mark Smith, as the grandson of the late Percy Smith and his wife Isabel who were important people in my formative years. Percy Smith and his wife cared for me at St Francis House in Adelaide after I’d been forcibly removed from my Yanyuwa mother from Borroloola NT. I found only kindness from Father Smith and Mrs Smith, and they helped to shape my values and understanding of the world I was living in. I’ve always appreciated the Smiths’ support in my life.  

In recent years I have helped Mark to document some of the history of St Francis House and the achievements of the Aboriginal boys who lived there under the care of Percy and Isabel Smith. Many of them were able to access education and secure good jobs, becoming leaders in sport, the arts, government and advocacy to improve Indigenous rights.

I support Mark’s efforts to share his grandmother’s remarkable life story. The work of Percy and Isabel Smith is respected by many Indigenous people. 

The story will give context to important issues from confronting chapters in Australian history, including the impact of government protectionist policies on Indigenous people and the social context for the 1967 Referendum. Also the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their families and its recommendation for an official apology from the Australian Government regarding Stolen Generations trauma.”

John Moriarty AM
Former resident of St Francis House

Isabel and Percy’s son John P McD Smith left with former St Francis House boys Brian Butler OAM, Jim Foster, Vincent Copley AM, Dr Gordon Briscoe AO and Mark John Christopher Smith. Taken at Glanville Hall in 2018.