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Vincent Copley

When I was a kid around Port Adelaide, there weren't many Aboriginal people, and there was plenty of discrimination at school.

My father died when I was two, so we came to Adelaide and my mum got involved with this gentleman called Allan Copley - a white person. At that time it was against the law for Aboriginal people to mix with white people. My mother was all over the front page of the Truth because of it.

We were just like other Aboriginal families, trying to make a living.  We went to Leigh Creek for a couple of years, and then went to Alice Springs and then Adelaide. Along the way my brother and sister died, and then my mother died, and then my sister. Now there's only me and Josie.

Before the migrants came to Taperoo we were copping all the racist heat, the English mob had seen black people before in their colonies, but hadn't seen any Aboriginal people. So at that stage, we were doing all the work in terms of race relations, and we made people aware. But when the migrants came, the heat was taken off us because the Australians gave the migrants such a hard time and it was sad to see how they treated other people. It was bad enough for us, but to see kids getting scruffed around because they had different clothes and had different food for lunch, that was terrible.

The Australian girls, their mothers wouldn't let us have anything to do with their girls, so they hid them. But the girls from England and Poland were a different type of people and their parents didn't mind if they were going out with black kids. So for a small time we enjoyed that until they swung into the way of how Australians thought about Aboriginal people.

When I was a kid around Port Adelaide, there weren't many Aboriginal people, and there was plenty of discrimination at school and in the district, apart from when football teams started and they wanted sportsman. For Saturday afternoon at football you were king, and when you went back to school you were a pauper. So it really hit home in terms of us being alone. Every now and again someone would come into the Port district and either stay with my aunty or wander across to get day work. From then, when they started to build at Taperoo, at that time people were moving from Point Pearce to come to Adelaide to live - taking a chance of getting exempted from the Point Pearce Mission.

Vincent Copley