Former federal parliamentarian and Keating government minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Robert Tickner, recently shared his story from the warm summer’s day in 1993 when he was re-united with his birth mother. Speaking with Canberra Times journalist, Karen Hardy, Robert read from his book, Ten Doors Down as, describing his mixture of happiness and “roller coaster of emotions” as he waited near Sydney’s Opera House and “magnificent harbour” for the mother who had last held him as a tiny baby some 41 years’ previously. And he “knew” his mother in an instant as he spotted the tall handsome woman making her way towards him. From boyhood days in Forster on the New South Wales coast, Robert knew of his adoption, but was made to feel “special” by “wonderful” parents who gave him a very good life. Once reunited with his birth mother, and birth father (18 months later), he was immediately welcomed by other family members and siblings. Speaking with Karen and audience members about various aspects of his life, Robert spoke warmly of his birth mother “becoming an instant grandmother” to his son, Jack – “the first person who I knew I was genetically related to”. In fact, it was Jack’s birth that led Robert to finding his mother, and a journey which reminded him of the incredible stigma and hardships faced by unmarried mothers in earlier times. More recently however, Robert has been heartened by the very warm and supportive messages and responses from the community on the publication of Ten Doors Down.
Geri Bryant-Badham is a Canberra-based freelance researcher and journalist.
Geri has substantial experience in advocacy, policy and organising and managing projects, including handling budgets and finances. She has worked in various offices for a small business, a university and in the parliamentary, political, government and non-government sectors.