(Note: this article contains images and voices of Aboriginal people who have died)
Dougie Mansell often finds himself reflecting on his early childhood on truwana/Cape Barren Island - and what could have been.
When he was five-years-old, his parents made the most fateful decision of his life. They decided to move to Flinders Island.
Just three years later, a group of welfare officers arrived on truwana/Cape Barren and took the children away from their parents.
"I always think to this day, if my parents hadn't have moved to Flinders Island, would I have been one of those children that were taken off the island? It's a traumatic thought," Mr Mansell said.
"The school teacher at the time was also the policeman, and the welfare officer, he rang up for the plane to come in with a couple of welfare people and took the children from school.
"The parents were waiting for them to come home at 3 o'clock, no children turned up. They went looking around at their friend's place, and then they went to the teacher and that's when they found out that the children were taken.
"No warning whatsoever."
Mr Mansell, however, was safe on Flinders Island. But he was not safe from the racism he and other Aboriginal children endured during their schooling. While it was a better option than staying on truwana/Cape Barren, Mr Mansell said moving to Flinders was a mistake.
"I always say it was the worst move they ever made because of the racism on Flinders Island. They should've moved to Launceston. It was very, very, very bad," he said.
"You'd get one fella who'd hold one of us while the other white fella bashed us, that was until we got a little bit older and we could stick up for ourselves."
Finding comfort through family and a love of music
One source of comfort for Mr Mansell was the eight weeks he could spend with the Aboriginal community muttonbirding on the smaller islands in the Furneaux Group, getting away from school and spending time with family.
As a 10-year-old, he taught himself to play the guitar. He started singing after local football games and at birthdays, and by the age of 16 he realised he had serious talent.
It gave Mr Mansell a permanent path off the island. He later moved to Melbourne with a cousin where they would perform at hotels around the city.
"He'd sing for the money, I'd sing for the beer," Mr Mansell said.
"I used to play the chords but I never knew the chords.
"I only found out a few years ago what the chords were. I was always playing the music without knowing the chords."
TASMANIAN ELDER STORIES:
Music remained more of a hobby than anything too serious - that was until 1994, when a friend signed Mr Mansell up for the annual Aboriginal festival at Oyster Cove.
One year later, he won Aboriginal artist of the year.
Music became a way of Mr Mansell relaying the stories of his childhood to a new audience. He would always tell a story before the Welcome to Country, and his songs always carried a message of connection to Country.
He sings about muttonbirding and being away from home, and in Can I Come Back? - a song he wrote in 10 minutes in St Helens - he tells the story of being kicked out of home and yearning to return.
"I write when I feel the words come to me," Mr Mansell said.
Coping with loss and carrying on the message of loved ones
The past few years have contained much sadness.
Mr Mansell was extremely close with his grandson Codie, and the pair would sing together from when he was a teenager.
They recorded a CD together and performed live.
"He was a great little singer. He had everything he needed to go a long way," Mr Mansell said.
Codie and Dougie Mansell perform Old Cape Barren A Luta Continua in 2018:
Codie tragically died two years ago, aged 17.
"I miss him so much," Mr Mansell said.
Earlier this year, he endured the death of Tasmanian Aboriginal musician and close friend Ronnie Summers, who grew up on truwana/Cape Barren.
"He was a real icon for Aboriginal music. He was a legend. I did a lot of singing with him and we carried it forward together," Mr Mansell said.
Looking to the future and tackling racism
Racism is something that no child should have to encounter, and for Mr Mansell, it took until his adult years to learn to put it out of his mind.
"When you live around racism, it's pretty hard. I learnt after I left school, I found out that if you want to travel - I've done a lot of travelling by myself - you've got to have confidence in yourself. I learned to get broad shoulders," he said.
"Everything that people said about me, I just put it on my shoulders.
"I just ignored it. When I ignored them, it upset them because they knew they weren't hurting me, so they stopped."
His stories of his upbringing have also helped others to understand the extent of the racism that existed on Flinders Island throughout his childhood.
Dougie Mansell and Ronnie Summers perform Born on Ol' Cape Barren at Lady Barron in 2019:
It also gives the broader community a real-life perspective on the impact of the Stolen Generation.
"The stories I tell - like when the children are taken away - it was only the early-60s when they were taken off the island. It's not something that happened 100 years ago, it happening in the 60s," Mr Mansell said.
"I know a bloke down in Hobart - he never got to see his mum again. You don't see him anymore because of the issues he still has, the trauma that he went through from being taken."
Mr Mansell longs for a time when racism no longer exists, but doubts it will ever occur. He believes it must be addressed before the Tasmanian Aboriginal community can move ahead with treaty and sovereignty.
His message of pride and resilience is something he instills in his children and grandchildren.
"Some of them encounter racism, I just say to the kids: 'just be you'," Mr Mansell said.
"You know who you are, what you are, be proud of that, just have your friends.
"Be proud of who you are what you are. That's it."