It's been a hard life, but it's been a good life - according to Annette Peardon.
Born at Whitemark on Flinders Island in 1949, her early years were spent surrounded by friends and family. She was happy and well looked after.
"Those days were really good days. I felt comfortable and I felt loved," she said.
IN OTHER NEWS:
But when she was eight the unthinkable happened. A strange man came and took Peardon away from all that she knew and all that she loved.
Her mum was charged with neglect and spent three months in jail. Peardon and her brother were moved from Flinders Island to the suburbs of Launceston.
It is a familiar story heard time and time again from members of the Stolen Generation. After being placed in the care of the state, Peardon bounced between foster homes.
At first she lived with a family on Canning Street. Next Peardon was placed at 18 Cyprus Street in the Lowena Girls Home. After moving again she found herself at Mount Saint Canice in Hobart, which was run by nuns.
Then after that she was placed in Weeroona Girls Home at Latrobe.
"That was a really bad institution," she said."I was there for quite a few years - the mental, physical and sexual abuse started in that particular home."
Peardon reported the abuse to someone she played basketball with. After an inquiry into the house it was closed down and Peardon later received compensation from the government for the abuse she suffered at the home while under state care.
Annette said the one thing that kept her going during the tough times was a dream of returning home.
"I set myself a dream ... when I grew up I was going to earn a lot of money and build a two storey house in Cape Barren which I have achieved," Peardon said.
Now an elder in her own right, Peardon said her message to the next generation was to not stop dreaming.
"Have a dream don't be a dreamer. If you have a dream it is very hard work, but in the end it is something that you've dreamed of having and it's a long time thing," she said.
Returning to Cape Barren was always on the cards for Peardon. After marrying and having children of her own she received a letter from the mother she hadn't seen since she was eight. That letter set Peardon on a journey which led her back home. "I had two really good friends down there and I said to them 'I need to go back home'," she said. "I never ever forgot who I was or where I came from."
Throughout her life Peardon has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of reconciliation and in 1997 she made history.
She was the first member of the public to address the Tasmanian House of Assembly in more than 100 years. She was also the first Indigenous person to do so.
Among her many contributions to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community Peardon has helped get Indigenous remains and artefacts returned from the Field Museum in Chicago.
Through her career fighting for reconciliation and equality Peardon has worn many hats. She was the Tasmanian co-commissioner of rights and equal opportunity, the officer manager of the Burnie Aboriginal Centre for 26 years, chairperson of the Cape Barren Island incorporated and worked as a field officer for the Aboriginal Legal Service.
Now semi-retired, Peardon is happy with what she has been able to accomplish.
"I feel like a racehorse sometimes and it has taken a long time to win a race, but I've always galloped," she said. "Always galloped and got to where I was going. Not always in front, sometimes well behind but that is how I've looked at my life."
She said progress had been made, but there was still work to do.
"We were the first to get land rights in Tasmania. We were the first Aboriginal group to get the apology for the Stolen Generations," Peardon said.
"But there is still a lot we need to do. I think treaty is the next big step for us and to have someone sit in Parliament."
- If this article raises concerns for you or anyone you know contact the 24-hour national sexual assault counselling service on 1800 737 732.
Sign up to one of our newsletters: