Australia

WA footy star recalls heartache of living in white Australia

WA football legend Bill Dempsey vividly remembers the heartache of living in white Australia.

Left at a Darwin mission at just three years of age, Dempsey has never forgotten a confronting visit by government officials to the facility when he was in his early teens.

“I overheard one of them saying not to encourage the kids to go beyond grade seven because they wouldn’t be going anywhere (in life),” Dempsey sadly recalled.

“They said the boys would just be stockmen or working on the roads and the girls would be domestics. That was how it happened and I never forgot it. I said, ‘Bugger you people, I’m going to school’.”

But Dempsey is heartened that Aboriginal youth are gradually being afforded the opportunities those of his era did not get. And at the heart of that in WA is a long-standing program that was the dream of his former West Perth captain and friend, Graham “Polly” Farmer.

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