Hello and welcome to Not Forgotten.
I’m Anne Moorhouse, a psychologist, and co-author of Not Forgotten: They called me Number 10 at Neerkol orphanage.
I’m also a partner, mother, and friend. This blog is a reflection of all those roles.
I still work two days a week at Little Window – Counselling Psychology and Wellness in Brisbane, Australia. I am so fortunate to have a job I love, working with fabulous clients and a team of passionate professionals.
At times I have written angrily about the difficulty clients face when accessing mental health services in Australia, see Dear Mental Health Client, please don’t be too unwell.
Co-author of Not Forgotten
In 2015 I started writing the biography Not Forgotten: They called me Number 10 at Neerkol orphanage. As a psychologist, I narrate the traumatic life of a dear friend, Samilya Bjelic, one of the 500,000 so-called Forgotten Australians who were placed into childhood institutions from 1920-1970. She has never been my client. In past posts, I refer to her as Ms Forgotten Australian as our voices were silenced by pending legal matters for two years.
Samilya and Anne
Our friendship developed late in our lives. Samilya had just turned sixty, and I am four years younger. Samilya’s youngest daughter who was a colleague of mine introduced us. Over backyard barbeques and cups of tea, I listened curiously to snippets of Samilya’s story, intrigued by comments of a scary, isolated orphanage run by unforgivably cruel nuns and depraved priests, and a violent, uncaring mother.
Samilya lamented that her children disbelieved the severity of her maltreatment and the intensity of her despair. Furious at how Australian society had shunned her, and frustrated by not feeling heard, Samilya dreamed of publishing a book. If she could describe her shocking upbringing vividly enough, surely others would understand the ongoing impact on her life and others like her. Perhaps, equally importantly, Samilya wanted to make people aware of how easily those who had the trust of the public could hide behind authority and religion, and never face the consequences of their actions.
People’s life stories have long captivated me, and I grew up with my head buried in books like The Diary of Anne Frank, Helen Keller, and Mr God this is Anna — stories of trauma, grief and survival. As a therapist, I fell in love with Narrative Therapy, and I learnt to unravel and amplify the multifaceted events that form a person’s identity. How could I not be drawn to Samilya’s story?
Speaking for voices that have been silenced
Clients in my psychological practice regularly share their traumatic experiences, which are frequently caused by the violence of others. Many feel disbelieved. Often, their friends and family question the extent of the brutality, doubting that the pain can endure years later. Clients struggle with an unjust world where, too often, perpetrators go unpunished. Within the confines of a counselling room, I witness their anguish as tears stream down their faces. But I keep their stories secret, safely bound by the secure knot of confidentiality. Narrating Samilya’s story in Not Forgotten: They called me Number 10 at Neerkol orphanage allows me to speak not just for her, but for many others whose voices are silenced by helplessness, fear and despair.
I am married to Steven and in 2015 we blogged for a year. The purpose then was to hone my writing skills while we travelled the world and enjoyed six restorative months away from our busy lives. Those posts which I loved writing are still here, like Thank you Tenzin Blind Massage Centre, A taste of life in a Beijing Hutong and Just a little about Cuban life – a socialist country. These posts are probably irrelevant, but I just can’t bear to delete them.
I have two adult children, my son lives in Brisbane and my daughter in Melbourne. They and their partners remain a central part of my life and I enjoy hearing about their escapades. I wouldn’t dare write about them!
Friendship and community, along with my family, make up the fabric of my life, see Getting to know your neighbours at a street party
Thanks for reading.
You will soon be able to purchase Not Forgotten: They called me Number 10 at Neerkol orphanage. That page is still under construction.