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Case 442 (2005)


Frank Byrne was stolen from his mother Maudie Yooringun at the age of five. Decades later, Frank searches for his mother’s burial site with the intention of taking her back to her country in the Kimberley, 42 years after she passed away.

Curator’s notes

A personable and intimate portrayal of an Indigenous family whose lives are irreparably changed by the government removal policies. Case 442 is the story of Frank Byrne who was taken from Christmas Creek to Moola Bulla on the 20 November 1943, removed from his mother Maudie Yooringun. Frank pinpoints that moment of his life – when he was taken to Moola Bulla – as being when the struggle for survival began, not only for him but also for the other children removed from their parents. When Frank was taken from Moola Bulla to Beagle Bay Mission, he was told by a priest that his mother had died, but the details of where, when and how were unknown to him, and Frank would search for the answers to these questions all of his life.

Case 442 is a heart wrenching story of Frank Byrne, who as an old man finally finds his mother’s resting place at Perth’s Claremont Mental Institute, where she was incarcerated following a nervous breakdown she suffered after the forced removal of her small son. Frank Byrne’s search for his mother was one that was supported by Stolen Generations senior case workers Justin Howard and Heather Shearer, and Julie Hayden from the Department of Indigenous Affairs, who collectively located Maudie’s remains. Case 442 is a personal testimonial to the effects of Aboriginal child removal policies, and the lifelong consequences it has had upon people who have endured being separated from their families and communities. Witnessing the emotion of Frank Byrnes, now an elder, and the determination he has to find the remains of his mother and return her to her country, is a demonstration of the impact of child removal policies on an individual survivor.

A film from writer and director Mitch Torres, Case 442 is the human face of a government policy designed to assimilate Indigenous peoples into mainstream society, the intention being to indoctrinate half-caste children with western values and in the process, forget Indigenous cultural identity and connections.

This program has also screened on NITV, National Indigenous Television.