As I grew up in foster care, I was taken away from my sisters and my extended family, to never hear from them again or know their whereabouts and taken to mainly non-Indigenous placements. During my time in the system, I had 17 different placements. I lost my sense of belonging, purpose, hope, love and importantly my Aboriginal culture.
I was placed into many different strangers’ homes and told to love them. I was told they were going to be my new happy family, but it was far from it. A lot of the people who took me in were in it for the wrong reasons. Loving and caring towards the systems eyes, and then later abusive to me. There were times when I would often come home from school, drop my bag down and the carer would be inches from my face screaming, “Isaiah, you will never amount to anything, nobody wants you!” and that “You are going to end up just like your parents, a nobody thrown into the criminal justice system, where you belong”. I was told this daily from the age of seven until my teenage years. There were days my younger sister and I would be locked out of the house for the entire day left without any food, water and when we would tell the carer we were hungry we would be told we were spoilt kids and then we would be physically abused.
I had many suicidal thoughts when I was in care and when I couldn’t escape and run away from my placement. I felt as if I was left to rot in the system and that absolutely no one cared about me. But the one thing that kept me from running away was knowing that I would be leaving my younger sister alone, and she would have no one to protect her. We were lucky enough to be reunited when I was six-years-old. And ever since the struggle we were faced with daily, we used to say, “it is you and me, against the world”. We didn’t have any protection, safety, mum or dad, love, or moral support when days got tough, we never had a normal day growing up. All we had was each other.