Lorna Cubillo was removed from Banka Banka Station and taken to Seven Mile Creek. She was moved to Phillip Creek several years later, and eventually to Darwin to live at the Retta Dixon Home with 15 others in 1947. While there, she experienced physical and emotional abuse, as well as sexual harassment. She also lost her aboriginal language, culture and family connections.
In 1999, Lorna and Pete Gunner, a part-aboriginal man who was placed in St. Mary’s Hostel in Alice Springs in the 1950’s, took the Commonwealth to Federal Court, a case that would set the bar for future lawsuits by members of the Stolen Generation in the Northern Territory. They lost.
Essentially, both plaintiffs failed to prove that the Commonwealth had acted illegally, or that the Director of Native Affairs/Native Welfare had abused his powers unlawfully. What they endured was seen as unfortunate, but not criminal at the time. Evidence and testimony were also lacking, speaking to the difficulty of trying a case 40 to 50 years after the fact.
Of her testimony in court she says, “I told the story how it was... and it has effected me, but at least it was a release... like opening the flood gate and letting it all go. All the ugly things came out of my mouth.”