Vic Chapman – Interview Transcript

Interview Transcript from Illawarra Stories Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project – Vic Chapman

Interviewer: Jo Oliver

Interview Date: 26 April 2021

Jo Oliver  This interview is for Wollongong City Libraries Oral History Project and this morning I’m talking with Vic Chapman at his home in Woonona. And my name is Jo Oliver and it’s the 26th of April 2021.

So, thank you Vic so much for, ah, getting together to, to talk. Um, I’ve read a little bit of about you and you’ve had an amazing life. But if we can go back to the beginning, um, where, whereabouts were you born and grew up?

Vic Chapman  I was born on Currawillinghi Station, a sheep station, ah, about 6 kms, ah, from the small town of Hebel, just 6 kms over the Queensland-New South Wales border, about 100 kms directly north of Lightning Ridge. Hebel was the, ah, support town for the pastoral industry, ah, that existed in, in those days.

Um, my, I was the 15th child born to Patrick and Lesia Chapman. Patrick, all was, ah, his proper name was Charles. His, he was called Patrick because he was born on St. Patrick’s Day,1875. [laughs] 13 of us survived to adulthood and I am the last one standing of the 15.

Jo Oliver  Wow. And, ah, how did your family come to be there? Was that their country originally?

Vic Chapman  That was their country. They were Yuwaalaraay people. Ah, my mother was, ah, born at Bangate Station which became quite, um, quite well known because it was the ah, the residence of, of, um, Kate Langloh Parker, who was perhaps the first non-Indigenous person to write favourably about ah, Aboriginal people. And her affinity with Indigenous people stemmed from the fact that she, as, as a child, she was saved from drowning by her black playmates. So, when she, ah, and her husband, Langloh Parker, um, bought Bangate Station she cultivated the, the local people, the Noongaburra people, the Kurrajong people, got their confidence, learned their language, learnt their language and collected the stories of the Yuwaalaraay people, of the Noongaburra people. And those stories were, became the basis of, ah, um, designs on my ceramics, ah, in later life.

Jo Oliver  That was really unusual for the time then wasn’t it, that she…?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  …she was supporting language,

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  …and wanting to learn language.

Vic Chapman  There’s an interesting story about, ah, Kate Langloh Parker. When I first came, ah, came down here from the country, I was teaching in the country, in the Mudgee Inspectorate, and I came down here in 1955, and that coincided with the, ah, the step-up in the immigration program.

And the government, ah, said they’d build ‘A school a mile’, which they virtually did.

But it was just the building, ah, very little in them, no telephones, no libraries, of course. And just, just the bare building, and the teachers. And we shared boxes of chalk and that sort of stuff. The only reading material in the school at that time was the school magazine and Supplementary Readers. I don’t know whether you remember…

Jo Oliver  I remember…

Vic Chapman  Supplementary Readers.

Jo Oliver  …the school magazine very well. I used to look forward to that.

Vic Chapman  Supplementary readers arrived at multiple copies of titles like ‘Climb a Lonely Hill’, and y’know, Enid Blyton books and so on. And, ah, one of the Supplementary Readers was ‘Australian Legendary Tales’ by Kate Langloh Parker. So, I “borrowed” one – in inverted commas -of these, ah, ‘Australian Legendary Tales’ and I sent it to my mother and father, neither of whom could read or write. And I had a little, little note that, um, said, ah, that, “You might recognise the, the name Langloh.”  You would recognise the name Langloh Parker, surely, and, ah, the, ah, the language that was used. Some of the language that was used to, as captions to the stories were Yuwaalaraay words. And, but I did, ah, they acknowledged the Department of Education, ending off that little note in the front of the book, by saying “With the Compliments of the Department of Education.” And in the 1960s, my mother was in Lightning Ridge, but she always carried this book with her, ah, despite the fact that she couldn’t read. And her visit, she was visiting my uncle, Jack McRae, her brother, at the time when Janet Matthews, a linguist, appeared there with one of those battery- operated tape recorders and interviewing the fluent speakers of Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay, which are about 70% compatible. And she took a fancy to – my Mum took a liking to Janet Matthews and parted with the book.

Many years later, some years later when John and Murray were at the University of New South Wales studying law and surveying, they came across Janet Matthews who made the connection between Murray and my mother and returned the book. A covering letter with a, which said that which told of, ah, well it was the transaction I suppose you’d call…In saying that my mother could, could speak no language, no Indigenous language, whereas she spoke Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay and had a good working knowledge of Murrawarri. So, the book, and when Murray passed away, of course, the book came back to me. So, it’s a story about a book.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, connections. Yeah. So back to being a little boy on the Station, what was, what was life like for you in those early years?

Vic Chapman  Ah, it was quite, quite exciting actually and, um, we were not enriched as far as, um, things were concerned. But, ah, we had lots of interesting experiences, raiding bees’ nests, and, um, gathering the, the different fruits when the native fruits, when they, when it came time for them, for those to be picked. Quandongs and ?inaudible?  and bumbles And raiding a bee’s nest was, was quite exciting. It was an outing and all the, the, um, the kerosene had, the buckets were made out of, our buckets were made in kerosene tins, and four-gallon kerosene tins. So, they were really sanitised and scrubbed, and we set off to, ah, cut down the tree and raid the bee’s nest. And the honey was fantastic.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Really fantastic. And, ah, we, ah, ah, went hunting rabbits and cray fishing, fishing in the river. And fish were in abundance at that, in those days. If you felt like a feed of fish, just went to the river caught what you required, what was sufficient for your meal, um, and I think there’s two reasons for that. One was to guarantee that the, the, the fresh food supply that would be continued. And the other was that there was no, um, freezing available. So, we, the only devices that we had for, well for keeping things cool, was charcoal coolers and safes made out of, um, hessian, which were quite adequate for the, for that climate which got, got, it got quite, quite warm up around Hebel.

Jo Oliver  I bet it did. Yeah. And did you live, did your family live on, in a house on the property?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Your own house?

Vic Chapman  Yes, Currawillinghi was quite um, quite a large complex actually. There were lots of multipurpose buildings there, sheds for, to house horse-drawn vehicles. We didn’t have any motor cars or things like that. There were sulkies and buggies and drays and so there was, um, buildings that, y’know, sheltered the, the horse-drawn vehicles, the blacksmith shop. There was what we called a Men’s, ‘Men’s hut’ where the visitors stayed when they, when they came. Visitors such as the, the travelling salesman and the Bushell’s Tea man and the, and the Rawleigh’s Ointments man, and drapers in motorised vehicles, Mahamod Dean, who sold shirts and boots and all that sort of stuff. And they camped overnight, they stayed overnight in the Men’s, in the Men’s hut. And that was, um, quite exciting because they were new faces, new people to talk to, um…And then there was a, an old building there that they called, well it was a, a building that was no longer used as a store, it was the store in the old days, and the counters were still there, the shelving as well for, that, y’know, housed, the goods that sold there at a particular point in time and the scales were still there then. And there was a trap door that led down, y’know, in a cellar which was quite exciting for, ah, for us kids who it was quite an adventure to open the trap door and go down into the cellar, and we weren’t supposed to, of course, but… And there was the Major’s house, the house, the Currawillinghi Station belonged to, ah, was one of the Outstations of the owner, Major G. M. Richmond, he was a Major in the Black Watch and he owned several stations. And they ran, ah, Haddon Rig, merinos, and my father eventually became the, the sub-master for Haddon Rig Merino in that, in that area despite the fact that he was, wasn’t educated, he had a good knowledge of sheep. So, there was the Major’s house there, which was quite, quite a it was quite a, quite a nice house.

Jo Oliver  So your Dad was a very valued member of the community there in, in his work.

Vic Chapman  Yes. That, that was interesting as well. The Major was well schooled, he was quite well educated. Um, he was, um, certainly had, ah, more money than my father did have. Yeah, and, and the, com-, compared with my father, who had no education at all, and, ah, and being of Indigenous descent and, um, certainly not, ah, certainly not wealthy. And these two people, so different, became very, very good friends. As matter of fact the Richmond family and the Chapman family they’re quite close, despite the differences. And, ah, as a matter of fact, the, the son, Jamie, Jamie Richmond, when, when his father passed away took over the management of, of Mogila, which is the main station in the Outstations and, ah, he, ah, delivered the, the eulogies out of about four of my brother’s funerals so it was, it’s quite a, a good story actually, and, and I think it’s a story that should be committed to, to paper. Yeah. Because it was an unusual in those times for those sorts of friendships to exist between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people.

Jo Oliver  Yes, definitely, a level of respect.

Vic Chapman  Yeah. And, and that was, an interesting sequel to that story as well, ah, Murray, with his background in law, worked most, well, all of his life, to further the, y’know, the progress of Indigenous people. And when he was, ah, the General Manager of the Indigenous Land Corporation, with his knowledge of law, he acquired for Indigenous people 1% of total land mass and the focus was that the land be of cultural significance to the local people. And, um, and with the help of CDP and TAFE it, they would provide, um, qualifications for local people and, of course, employment. When he left that job, that, that, ah, focus wasn’t, wasn’t realised. Um, a lot of the land that, ah, was gained during his tenancy as, as in, ah, in the ILC as General Manager was, a lot of that land was flogged off to dodgy developers by Land Councils where nepotism was rife and, ah, only individual families benefited and not communities. But in the process when he, he acquired, Murray acquired the main station, Mogila and Currawillinghi when they came, when they came up for sale during his tenancy. And while the deal went through, he stepped down because of perceived conflict of interest. But in the process he got, he too got to know James, Jamie Richmond, who was, by this time, getting on in years and ah, was sort of incapable of running the, the stud, Haddon Rig Merino Stud, and his son wasn’t interested in it, he was more interested in flying from Mogila station to Dubbo to see his, ah, lady friend. And that was, I think that was quite, ah, quite interesting that the grandson, um, um, my grandson had met up with the, the, the son of the, of the Major who owned the place, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And growing up, were you conscious of being an Aboriginal person and were there other Aboriginal families on the property?

Vic Chapman  Uh, no. No Aboriginal families on the property, just the Chapman family. As a matter of fact, the, the property in its day, ah, was bigger than the, than the little hamlet, than the town. It had its own constabulary and its own post office at one stage. No, but the, Hebel and where I lived through my primary school days were – Hebel and Goodooga – were towns of high Aboriginal concentration. And, um, we felt the, ah, the effect of recommendations, or rulings that, ah, related to Aboriginal people. Ah, there were regulations that, rules about, with, where you could, ah, with where you could live, with whom you could associate. They had care of, charge of your money. Ah, there’s a very interesting book about it, ‘Trustees on Trial,’ by Rosalind Kidd, an academic, a Queensland academic, where, though wages were kept by employers and you were, ah, you weren’t allowed the, the full benefit of your, of your wage. So, and it, as a matter fact regulations had almost monopoly control over the lives of Indigenous people. And it extended into, into education. Um, and there’s lots of, um, instances, recorded instances, of Indigenous people being barred from public schools and so on. They weren’t, they weren’t allowed into, into public schools. As a matter of fact, um, even when I was an Executive in the New South Wales Department of Education, the book that governed the, the conduct of, of schools, ‘The Teacher’s Handbook’, had in it the regulation which said that a person of Indigenous descent could be barred from the public school system on the protest of one non-Indigenous member of the school community. And that was in the school, in the Teacher’s Handbook up until 1972 and acted upon up until the late 1960s. And, um, I often wondered whether, ah, what would happen to the Assistant Principal if that rule were applied.

Jo Oliver  Incredible, isn’t it?

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And Vic, did you experience any of that discrimination as a child at, at school? Or did you see that happening in your experience?

Vic Chapman  Um, yes, we, there were plenty of instances of, um, of discrimination.

Times were certainly different then, I think, and particularly in towns of high Aboriginal concentration and the, ah, the thought climate was, was different. Um, very anti, ah, Aboriginal, ah, people and I think that continues to the present day. I’ll come to that in, in a minute, and we were, um, language was forbidden, speaking your language, um, and it was punishable by the cane.

Jo Oliver  Really? So, if a teacher saw children speaking in language…

Vic Chapman  Yep, yep. And bosses who employed people barred the speaking of, of, of language.

Jo Oliver  So did you speak in language at home, at all?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, we spoke, ah, language at home. Um, unfortunately, I, I left home when I was, when I was 12 and so there was no language maintenance in the, from the time I was 12, ah, because of high school and college and Uni and teaching, et cetera. And but I did, I, I became involved in the revival of Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay at a later st-, later stage. I’ll get to that, that point later on. But getting back to discrimination, yes, we were told, ah, Indigenous people were told where they could sit in the picture show. There was, if you were first in a queue in a shop, um, not, you weren’t necessarily served first, ah, if there were, ah, non-Indigenous people around. We couldn’t try on gear in the shop… buy it of the off the, off the shelf. Um, and no, you certainly knew your place.

Jo Oliver  Mmm. Conscious of that discrimination. And at school, how many, what sort of, roughly, what percentage of Aboriginal children would have been at the school? You said there was…

Vic Chapman  Well, they predominated.

Jo Oliver  Okay.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, because they were places of yeah, yes, yes high Aboriginal population.

Jo Oliver  And then when you were 12 you went to high school and that, and that meant you had to leave home. Is that correct?

Vic Chapman  Yes. I was fortunate in 1944 to have a teacher, Mr McKinnon, who sort of paved the way for me.

Jo Oliver  So he was the, a primary, primary school teacher?

Vic Chapman  He was a primary school teacher.

Jo Oliver  And was that year 6 that you were…?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah. In places like Hebel and Goodooga where I spent my primary school days, um, the itinerant workers who came to work in the place, like the schoolteacher, the postmaster, the doctor, yep, those sort of people, as soon as they hit the place they took on the non-Indigenous attitude towards Indigenous people. And in 1944, 1944, Mr McKinnon, a teacher I’ll always remember, didn’t fit that mould and he tested the water for himself. He thought I had some academic promise and suggested I sit for a State Bursary that, ah, which meant I had to go, I was eligible to go to high school and it provided the funds to go to high school.

Ah, we didn’t know what a high school was. We did not know very much about the education system and as a matter of fact we thought, ah, that well, for our, for us schooling ended at the end of primary school. Goodooga was a place of, um, the enrolment would be at least 90% Indigenous. And…

Jo Oliver  Would they, young people would then go and work…

Vic Chapman  Yes, well…

Jo Oliver  …on the properties, that was the expectation.

Vic Chapman  Not, not only Indigenous people, Indigenous kids,

Jo Oliver  No.

Vic Chapman  but non-Indigenous kids, ah, went to work in the pastoral industry. The boys went to work with sheep or building, yard building or something to do with pastoral industry. And the girls um, mostly ended up as, as domestics, washing and ironing, cleaning people’s houses and that, that sort of thing, y’know.

Jo Oliver  And did you do anything, did you do things socially with other Aboriginal people? Like did people get together, um, socially outside school time and work time?

Vic Chapman  Well, any, any gathering was gatherings of Aboriginal people, there was no, not much, not much mixing of the two, Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, yeah.

Jo Oliver  But did your people get together with other families, or did you mostly stay with your own?

Vic Chapman  Well, mostly with, ah, mostly with Indigenous people that we, that we mixed with in those times. And there was a very, the, the classifications were very, very, ah, distinctly marked. Um, y’know, right at the bottom of the ladder of the, you would have the Aboriginal people who lived in the, in humpies, etc. on the, on the banks of the river.

Jo Oliver  Right, in the traditional way.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah. Well, well, at with buildings made out of any material that they could find, corrugated iron and bark and canvas or masonite or whatever. And, ah, the river was there, provided the water for whatever dom-, domestic use and et cetera. Um, but we always had a house when we, we always had a house in town. When the kids came of age, were school age, we went, we went to the house in town to go to school. And…

Jo Oliver  And would, who would look after you at that house?

Vic Chapman  Well, my, my elder sister.

Jo Oliver  … were still back on the property?

Vic Chapman  Yes, ah, my eldest sister looked after, ah, most of the… Well initially, the, the oldest people, oldest members of family used to walk four miles from Currawillinghi Station to Hebel, y’know, through the mulga, rain, hail or shine, because it was a, there was the fear in those days, and understandably, because the police not only had the duty of ah, the usual title of constable, etc., they also had the title of Protector of Aboriginals.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And if they didn’t like the cut of your jib, the kids could be removed from their family. So, parents were quite, ah, adamant that the kids were well scrubbed, well fed and, um, went to school every day. That, that, initially the eldest members of, of the family just walked to school and then ah, the other, as they bec-, as they grew, ah, became older, they looked after us, um, the younger ones, in the house in, in Hebel. And, ah, we went to school from there, from the house in Hebel. But I didn’t, I didn’t have to walk that four miles every day to and from school.

Jo Oliver  That was a big responsibility for your siblings, though…

Vic Chapman  Yes, yes.

Jo Oliver  …looking after the younger children and I presume cooking and…

Vic Chapman  Yep.

Jo Oliver  …whatever. Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And the time came when, ah, my sister, ah, when, my sister was no longer able to look after, after the kids when so my, my father was relocated to posted to the, to Goodooga which was in New South Wales and my mother came to look after the kids in, in Hebel.

Jo Oliver  It meant them being separate through that time.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah. And my father used to ride his pushbike home 20 miles every, every week. And then that became a bit of a chore, so we decided to move to Goodooga to be closer to where my father was managing a property. And, ah, so we bought a house there. And that’s where I came in contact with Mr. McKinnon, who changed the course of my life.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. Okay, so 12 years old you got the Bursary, and…

Vic Chapman  12 years old, got the Bursary, yeah.

Jo Oliver  …and you had to leave home.

Vic Chapman  And with the help of, ah, ah, my benefactor and other people who knew more about schools than we did, we found out what a high school was and made preparation to go there. So, I got a new port – we used to call them ‘ports’ in those days, not suitcases – new clothes especially for me,

Jo Oliver  A uniform was it?

Vic Chapman  Yeah. But prior to that I had, ah, hand-me-downs which didn’t always [laughs] fit properly. But so, ah, yes, the time came for to go to Dubbo High, which at the time was the nearest ‘full’ high school from the Queensland-New South Wales border. So…

Jo Oliver  How far would that have been away? Quite a distance.

Vic Chapman  Quite a distance. It’s, Dubbo’s in the middle of the State.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And, and Goodooga’s almost, is, ah, only six miles from the border. Talking, I’m getting the miles and the kilometres mixed up here.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  But, ah, so it – “The time came the Walrus said” – the time came for me to go to high school. So, I hopped on the back of a truck with my new port and new clothes and, ah, with the, the address of the place I was to stay at in Dubbo, Miss E. Reville, ‘Lilrose’, 134 Bourke Street, Dubbo. First time away from my Mum and Dad and my siblings and to go, to go 76 miles to Brewarrina which was the rail head.

Stayed overnight with an Aboriginal woman, Mrs Frost, and in the morning and next, in the morning, ah, got a taxi to the train, to the train station, saw a train for the first time. And, ah, fortunately, there was somebody from Goodooga going to Dubbo and so he showed me how to get a, get a ticket and get on the train.

Jo Oliver  How did you feel as a 12-year-old?

Vic Chapman  Ah, quite scary.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, but, ah, that became the pattern for, for future years when I travelled to, when I finished, matriculated at Dubbo High and, ah, had to go to Sydney to, to be interviewed to see whether I was suitable for being a teacher.

Jo Oliver  Okay.

Vic Chapman  And that was my first time in Sydney, which, which was another, quite exciting.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And after that, ah, finding my own way to Wagga Wagga where I went to Teachers’ College.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. So big, big new steps for you through all, through that period.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And what was it like at Dubbo? So, you boarded with someone there did you?

Vic Chapman  I boarded, first year I boarded at 134 Bourke Street.

Jo Oliver  Yes.

Vic Chapman  And there were cases of racism there at, at that boarding house, so…

Jo Oliver  Oh, it was boarding house, it wasn’t a family or anything?

Vic Chapman  No. No, no, it was a boarding house. And, ah, after experiencing racism at the boarding house I, ah, boarded at the Church of England Boys’ Hostel.

And, and there were lots of country kids in, ah, Brewarrina and Cobar and all those places out west ‘cos Dubbo was the, was the, as I say, the nearest ‘full’ high school to the Queensland-New South Wales border. And, um, yeah, and…

Jo Oliver  Many Aboriginal kids or…?

Vic Chapman  Um, not at the hostel, no. But there were Aboriginal kids at Dubbo High School. And most, most of the Aboriginal kids were in the lower classes, in the F and G classes and, um, I think, not, not because that, not because they were, ah, they were dull or unintelligent. I think it was, ah, the fault lies, lies in the intelligence, intelligence tests. Ah, the, the, ah, items in the intelligence tests were foreign to Indigenous people and so their, their scores were about, ah, 10 to 20, 10 to 15 points lower than non-Indigenous people. Consequently, they were relegated to the lower classes.

Jo Oliver  Well they say that intelligence tests show just how good you are at intelligence tests.

Vic Chapman  Yep, yeah. Well, they, ah, are not as popular as they used to be.

Jo Oliver  No, I don’t think so, [laughter] no. But you were in, you were in the more able classes yourself?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, well the Bursars, the State Bursars, were, went into the A classes where you did two languages, French and Latin, ah, and Math I and Maths II and that sort of stuff, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Okay.

Vic Chapman  Latin did come in very handy.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Ah, because when I, when I did university work, um, yes, it certainly came in very, very handy in, in working out the meanings of words.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And my mind goes back to Hebel State School where we had, ah, such subjects as analysis and parsing, and y’know and there was a very heavy accent on grammar.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And also, they had a, I remember a little book about that, that wide and about that, that long, called ‘Derivation’ and it contained Anglo-Saxon, Greek, and Latin roots and prefixes and suffixes and affixes. And, ah, we had ah, the teacher examined us on our knowledge of, ah, of derivations. He’d throw us a word like “composition”, um, and you’d have to give the derivation of that; “i-o-n”, the act of, um, ?current? replaced the “i” with “o-n”, the act of putting together. And, and “arithmetic” – arithmos, a number – metron, a measure – and so on. So, it came in very, Latin came in very, very handy.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. You’re convincing me. And did you ever get back to see your family, in that in that would you go for holidays?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah. Yep. Naturally it was, ah, there were lots of bouts of homesickness.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Because being the first time away. So, every opportunity I, I had I, I went home. And sometimes it meant, um, hopping on a train, going to Brewarrina, getting, well the train left Dubbo about half past 9 in the morning and got to Brewarrina around about 6 o’clock I suppose, half past 5, 6 o’clock. So, I went to Pippos’s Cafe and had something to eat, and I got the mail, caught the mail truck out, um, to Goodooga and arrived, um, sometime about 2 o’clock in the morning. It’s interesting, I’ve got a painting there by um, ah, a, the Lightning Ridge artist, John Murray, as matter of fact his name is, and it’s ah,

John and Murray. And Murray’s, Murray’s son bought this painting by – just forgotten his name now – yes, John, John Murray. He bought this painting of the Goodooga-Brewarrina Road which is just a 19 mile plain. And in the, in the night, ah, night-time when we’re traveling from Brewarrina to Goodooga, we, ah, I had occasion to see the Min Min lights bouncing along like a, like a tennis ball bouncing, a light bouncing. Nobody quite understands what the, what the Min Min lights are, but, but it was interesting.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  So I’d get home around about 2 o’clock and my brother who was next to me in line in the family, we were, we were close in, in age and close in y’know, ah, he’d have bacon and eggs or something and we’d catch up on what had transpired while I was away.

And, um, sometimes I’d, it’d be, I’d arrive at 2 o’clock in the morning and at 12 o’clock the next (pardon me) 10 hours’ time I’d catch the mail back to Brewarrina.

Jo Oliver  Oh, really. So, you weren’t there for very long.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, ah…

Jo Oliver  But would you see your Mum and Dad in that time?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. How wonderful for your brother to make a meal and everything for you.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  So…

Jo Oliver  And did you make, um, did you make friends at school at Dubbo?

Vic Chapman  Oh, yeah, plenty, plenty of friends.

Jo Oliver  Good.

Vic Chapman  Plenty of friends.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. And I’m interested in the truck too, the truck that you came home on. Did that have sort of seats, or were you, you weren’t sitting in the back of the truck were you?

Vic Chapman  No, I, I travelled in the, from Brewarrina I travelled in the, initially I was in the back of the truck.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  To go from Goodooga to Brewarrina

Jo Oliver  Okay.

Vic Chapman  But, ah, catching the, coming home from high school, there weren’t too many people who wanted to go to Goodooga I don’t suppose. As a matter fact at one stage it was voted the most boring town in Australia! And there’s a, um, there’s a, it’s a bit of a pun on, on words I suppose. When I was a young fellow growing up there, the town water supply was artesian water, bore water, and it was darn hot, y’know. We couldn’t have a bath or a shower in the middle of the, in the middle of the day in summer because it was too hot. So, the word got out about, ah, this, this town with bore water supply and it was known as the most “boring” town. [laughter] So coach loads of people came to visit the town and ah, and the visitors said that the, the locals got their kicks from watching the numbers tick over on the bowsers outside the local store, counting the nails in the, in the veranda of the local store. And the locals had a sense of humour also and they sold them bottles of bore water at a dollar a pop. Y’know, yeah.

Jo Oliver  So high school you, you made friends and that was with all different sorts of people there? Yeah?

Vic Chapman  Yes. Yeah, yeah, I made lots of friends at high school. And, um, even now, ah, Dubbo High School has a, a luncheon every, every year and Castlereagh Street in Sydney and, um, although Dubbo High School itself, the old Dubbo High no longer exists, there’s a new college that, well it took over from Dubbo from the Dubbo High. And the, the new college and the old Dubbo High students meet in Castlereagh Street every year. But the, ah, the old Dubbo High crowd is getting very, very thin.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, yeah. But that’s wonderful you, you made lifelong friends really.

Vic Chapman  Yes, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And you must have done very well, Vic, to then go on to Teachers’ College.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  I think you mentioned earlier you had to go for an interview in Sydney first.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And then what was the process after that, you went to be interviewed?

Vic Chapman  Ah, well we had to sing ‘God Save the King’ to see whether you were tone deaf or not. Yeah, well, well, you had to have a sing a song. And there was a medical, of course. And that was, ah, difficult for me to find my way around Sydney because I had to find Macquarie Street from the University and, ah, and the Department of Education in Bridge Street I think it was at that time, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And you were, and you, ah, were successful in, um, did you get a scholarship as well?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, got a scholarship.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And, ah, that was a two-year course.

Jo Oliver  And whereabouts was that?

Vic Chapman  That was at Wagga Wagga.

Jo Oliver  Wagga. So, another, another big move for you.

Vic Chapman  Yes, yeah. And Wagga Wagga, it’s, it’s an interesting place as well. The Teachers’ College there was an old Air Force hos-, hospital converted and, ah, it was a live-in college. And that’s, ah, that’s where I met Ruth, y’know. In the common dining room there were four male students and four females at each table and that’s where I met Ruth.

Jo Oliver  Where had she come from?

Vic Chapman  She came from Cowra and was non-Indigenous of course. I wasn’t particularly welcome…

Jo Oliver  Suitor?

Vic Chapman  as a… yeah. And I think they would have preferred somebody who wasn’t, ah,? a dusky man?

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  But obviously she took a liking to you. It wasn’t a problem for her.

Vic Chapman  Yes. Yeah, Ruth was, ah, pint sized but very strong. So we had 62 years together.

Jo Oliver  Wonderful. So how was, you, um, you got together at Teachers’ College, but when did you marry?

Vic Chapman  Ah, we, we graduated in, we came out teaching in ’52 and we married in ’55.

Jo Oliver  Right. And were you posted to schools by then?

Vic Chapman  Well, yes. Ruth was posted to sou-, to the Illawarra from ’52, y’know, and I was, um, went to the Mudgee Inspectorate as, on Mudgee relief for a short time. And then my first, ah, permanent appointment was at a place called Mendooran. And I went back there just recently to celebrating 150 years of education at Mendooran and the world and his dog was there.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  [Laughs].

Jo Oliver  And where is that? What, what would be the nearest big town?

Vic Chapman  Oh, Gilgandra in the area of Gilgandra-Coonabarabran-Dubbo, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Right out there. So, you had a long-distance relationship with Ruth at that stage.

Vic Chapman  Oh …

Jo Oliver  How did you, how did you, did you ever see each other or…?

Vic Chapman  Oh, yeah, yes.

Jo Oliver  In the holidays?

Vic Chapman  Yes, holidays. Sometimes I’d, um, probably every six weeks, I’d hop on a train from Merry-, Merry-, Merrygoen and go to Sydney for the weekend, for a long weekend.

Jo Oliver  And would you write letters to each other?

Vic Chapman  Yep, yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And did she come up and meet your family?

Vic Chapman  Ah, no, she didn’t. Ah, my family came down to meet her, the meeting…

Jo Oliver  Okay.

Vic Chapman  …was down here, yeah. Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And how did they feel about you marrying a non-Indigenous person?

Vic Chapman  Ah, she was very well accepted.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And what, what did other of your siblings, did they mostly have partnerships with Aboriginal people or non-…

Vic Chapman  No, it was quite, ah, Aboriginal people, non-Aboriginal people.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, a mix.

Vic Chapman  Danes, Danish people, Lebanese and [laughs] …

Jo Oliver  Yeah, the whole thing.

Vic Chapman  It was real, a real United Nations.

Jo Oliver  Wonderful.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And then did you get, once you married, did you get a posting together at the same..?

Vic Chapman  No, Ruth came down, was posted here in 1952.

Jo Oliver  Yes.

Vic Chapman  And I went to, into the Mudgee Inspectorate. And when we were married I was transferred to Waniora which is down near Bulli high school.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, okay.

Vic Chapman  And we lived in Park Road for a short while until we got a flat at Austinmer.

Jo Oliver  So Park, which Park Road was that?

Vic Chapman  Ah, Park Road in, in Bulli.

Jo Oliver  In Bulli.

Vic Chapman  Right down…

Jo Oliver  Right.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Because we’re sort of in Park Road now aren’t we?

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Another Park Road. And then you got a flat in Austinmer.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  And where, whereabouts was that, in Austinmer?

Vic Chapman  In Balfour Road, just over the railway line.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  It was, it was quite, quite pleasant there.

Jo Oliver  And were you both teaching at that stage?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. We taught, ah, we taught for quite, quite a few years. And Murray was born in 1959, ah, so Ruth took time off to, to have the kids, look after the kids, go, send them to school and so on.

Jo Oliver  And you had two sons, is that correct?

Vic Chapman  Two sons.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. And where did they go to school? Ah, they went to Waniora, with ah, when I was teaching there. I had about 10 years teaching at Waniora, Waniora School because I wasn’t particularly interested in promotion, I just liked classroom teaching.

Jo Oliver  Okay. What did, what did you like about classroom teaching?

Vic Chapman  Oh, I just like teaching. I could draw, and that was, ah, one the best teaching aids was a stick of chalk and a blackboard.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And I could…

Jo Oliver  Was there a particular year that you liked teaching, particular grade, age of children?

Vic Chapman  Well, mostly at Waniora, I ended up with, ah, with Year 3 and that appealed to me because there was a, ah, a very marked difference between when the kids entered the Year 3 and as, at the end of that year, the development was, it was magic.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Ah, so I, I quite liked Year 3, teaching Year 3.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. They have a lot of energy at that age, don’t they?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Especially the boys I think.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And were you, um, were you known, and I don’t just want to focus on your Aboriginality, but it’s interesting, were you known as an Aboriginal person here?

Vic Chapman  Yes. Yeah.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And, ah, Waniora was an interesting experience for me ah, it coin-, my appointment to Waniora coincided, as I say, with the with the, um, the step-up in the immigration program. And they were, kids were getting off the boat and coming to school with no English whatsoever and there were no ESL teachers at that stage. And, ah, we, Australians, have always been known as friendly, welcoming people, but that didn’t seem to be the case with new Australians. And there were lots of instances of “Speak English!” And kids were, sort of, ah, well, ah, their clothing was?? for the clothing that they, probably lederhosen was probably the only clothes that they had, and for what they had in their sandwiches and what they ate. And, ah, I saw a parallel there between the treatment of, ah, new arrivals and, ah, and Aboriginal people. Don’t speak your language, get rid of your cultural stuff.

And, ah, and we also had problems with, because there were so many of us I suppose, and because the wages for my father, the wages weren’t that high, and my mother of course was just an ordinary housewife. So we had to make do with whatever clothing that, ah, was available. Hand-me-downs were welcome from people who were more fortunate than we were. And so, I saw this, this parallel – language and culture and how we, um, dress, et cetera. So, I’d say to the kids, “When you go home you speak German or Dutch or whatever. Don’t forget your cultural things.” I’d remind them about keeping up their cultural, cultural awareness. And consequently, ah, I have lots of friends now, ah, who go back to those days when, to those primary school days. So, because of that very thing,

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Don’t forget where you come from. And…

Jo Oliver  You were ahead of your time then really Vic. I mean they were the days of integration weren’t they?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Before it was recognised the importance of retaining culture.

Vic Chapman  But it was, it was nothing new to me.

Jo Oliver  No. You’d experienced that yourself. Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Ah, so I, I get phone calls, sometimes [laughs] that last an hour or so from retired vets and professors and goodness knows what [laughs].

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Ah, so it’s quite, quite exciting.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And it just sort of underlines the fact that the reward doesn’t come at the end of a lesson, or at the end of a day or end of a week or end of a year. It can come 60 years down the line. And that’s quite exciting.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And I always reminded, um, my confreres, ah, what a great opportunity they had, ah, and a great responsibility they had to bend the twig as McKinnon had done for me. You can, ah, change a person’s life.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And I got a, a letter from, um, Philip Evans who’s the professor of law at Notre Dame. Philip was adopted out at birth and, ah, he left school early but, ah, went to TAFE, got, um, HSC, or Leaving Certificate at that time, and ended up with several degrees, etc. And I had, his most recent letter I got from him included about four or five A4’s of his search to, for his, ah, for his birth mother. And, ah, unfortunately she had, ah, passed away before, ah, he caught up with her. But he did, ah, catch up with a nurse, his nurse, his nurse as a baby and, ah, found out that he had, um, siblings. Um, and he, ah, and they wanted to know, he tracked down these siblings and they wanted to know his story. And so, he wrote this, ah, five A4s or six A4s illuminating, his, his journey. And in it I was really flattered to mention that, ah, the same sort of thing happened to him as happened to me. A teacher made a difference to his life and he quotes me as such.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, wonderful.

Vic Chapman  Well, two other teachers and me. What a great reward.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, yeah. And were you able to keep in touch with your teacher, Mr. McKinnon, at all. Did he know…

Vic Chapman  No. Unfortunately, after becoming a State Bursar, I didn’t have the privilege of meeting up with him again. I often wish I had met up with him again Yeah, to thank him for showing me the way.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Yes. So, there were three, I suppose, three lots of people who were, who had a great influence in my life. My Mum and Dad, who were unschooled and who made great sacrifices for me to realise my dream of becoming a teacher. And McKinnon, who showed us the way. And my wife Ruth, who gave me the confidence and the support to do what I could not have done without her. Yeah.

Jo Oliver  So after you were at Waniora, where did you go next to?

Vic Chapman  After Waniora, I, I wanted to…Actually interesting at Waniora too was I taught Murray. Ah, it meant Murray was going to, into 3rd class about to go into it, he said “What will I call you?” I said, “Why don’t you try Dad?” He said, “Hey, Dad.”

Yes, Waniora was an interesting school. It always seemed to be out at the, ah, the forefront of progress in education and experiments etc. And I had a, a headmaster, Jim Fairley, who, ah, who taught me so much about teaching. Ah, and he took me sort of under his wing and taught me more, more than just the skills of teaching. He became a great advisor on language, um, dress. His, his father was a, was a tailor and he’d always comment on a new jacket that I had or a new suit. Waniora was always a place of, ah, as I say, of experiment and Jim Fairley is, was ahead of his time. So instead of the lockstep method that schools were famous for in those days individual learning was theory. And lang-, laboratories, such as reading laboratories, language laboratories, maths laboratories, where emerging and, ah, Jim Fairley always, ah, accredited me, unlike other principals, with a little bit of intelligence, and so we got a laboratory. “I want you to try it out and let’s know what you think of it.” So, he was a great mentor to me. So, but by that time we’d had the two boys and we needed some, some money. So, the position of Deputy Master came up at Woonona School just down the road in Gray Street and it was just after the teachers’, first teachers’ strike. And the, that appointment meant something like $2,000 a year jump in salary, which was quite welcome.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  So I was…

Jo Oliver  That would have been in the ’60s would it?

Vic Chapman  Yes. Yeah, ah, yeah ’60s going into the ’70s. And so I was Deputy Master at Woonona for about four years. And then, ah, I was appointed Assistant Principal at Pleasant Heights for four years and then from there Principal at Gwynneville in 1976, I think that was. 1976 yeah, 1976 yeah. And from there went to Berkeley for about seven years and I finished up at, ah, Thirroul.

Jo Oliver  As Principal?

Vic Chapman  As Principal, at the end of 1990. So, this is my 31st year of retirement and I always tell everybody that the first 31st, 31 years of retirement are the best.

Jo Oliver  [Laughs].

Vic Chapman  But in the, ah, in the interim in between, ah, schools, teaching and schools, I’ve been, had a lot of community engagement. Ah, had a great connection with the, ah, the Wollongong City Gallery as a guide, as a tour guide, as a, ah, donor – donated some prints, et cetera.

Jo Oliver  So you developed your artistic talent somewhere along the line there. You went to study at, was it at COFA?

Vic Chapman  COFA.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. And when, was that after you retired?

Vic Chapman  Yes, that was after, that was after I retired. A lot of, ah, engagement with Indigenous education, et cetera, had a, and in establishing Woolyungah, um, at the, the Aboriginal Units at the University of Wollongong.

Jo Oliver  And what did that involve? How, how were you involved in that?

Vic Chapman  Well, it, it came about, ah, through, in association with Dr Arthur Smith, who was, mother was a cleaner, a school cleaner, and he pulled himself up by the bootstraps, and y’know with, he’s a very intelligent, a very intelligent man, and apparently experienced similar difficulties in achieving what he achieved, as I did. And in the old Demountable 10 at the University we talked about establishing an Indigenous Unit. And, and that sowed the seeds for Woolyungah.

Jo Oliver  Which supports Aboriginal university students. Is that its main role?

Vic Chapman  Yes. Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And you said you’ve done some work with language with your …

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  Original language. Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Actually that, that came about through, um, through my artwork, through Wollongong City Gallery at that time displayed three of my platters and, ah, John Giacon, Dr John Giacon – he wasn’t a, he wasn’t a Doctor John Giacon at that stage. John Giacon was a, ah, a Christian Brothers teacher at St Joseph’s in Walgett. And he became, together with Uncle Ted Fields, became interested in lack of Yuwaalaraay language and Gamilaraay, which as I said, are about 70% compatible. And they, that was the was the beginning of language, of language revival in Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay. John, um, John’s Mum and Dad lived at Tarrawanna just down the road, here. He came to visit them and went to Wollongong City Gallery and saw three of my platters which said that, ah, “Descendant of the Noongaburra people, Yuwaalaraay language group.” So, he said to the, ah, the, the Director of the Gallery, “Where’s this Yuwaalaraay fellow?”

So, that began a very close relationship with John Giacon because, um, he was a linguist, he was, he is a linguist in his own right. He’s Italian, speaks German and French and first became interested in Indigenous languages and eventually did a doctorate in Indigenous languages. So, we, ah, sort of became very, very, very friendly. We produced a fabulous dictionary and I get some mention there…

Jo Oliver  Wonderful.

Vic Chapman  as contributing. Gamilaraay,

Jo Oliver  Yes.

Vic Chapman  Gamil-araay -“gamil” is “no” in Gamilaraay and “araay” is “having”. And Yuwaalaray – “yuwaal” is “no” in Yuwaalaraay and “araay” and Yuwaalaraay that’s a very close neighbour of it.

Jo Oliver  Right. And so, this is a dictionary of words.

Vic Chapman  It’s the dictionary of words.

Jo Oliver  And how is this used now? Is it being taught to young people?

Vic Chapman  Yes, it’s being taught in schools and at university level, and…

Jo Oliver  So that was first published in 2003.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, wonderful. And then there’s a whole lot of books that, ah, Vic has here that go with it, so “How to Teach A Resource Book for Teachers”. Wonderful.

Vic Chapman  I think the Yuwaalaraay and Gamilaraay are probably the, the best resourced Indigenous languages in, in New South Wales anyway. This one, Dhiirrala, “Dhiirrala Gamilaraay” teaches Gamilaraay, is a thematic approach to the teaching of language, and, ah, John asked me to write the foreword to the book.

Jo Oliver  Then it’s got a little bit about you here too. That you were born…

Vic Chapman  Ah, right.

Jo Oliver  …in 1932.

Vic Chapman  Yeah.

Jo Oliver  You won the scholarship in 1944.

Vic Chapman  Yep.

Jo Oliver  Teachers’ College, you graduated in 1951. Oh, one thing you didn’t mention that you were prefect and boy captain of Dubbo.

Vic Chapman  Yes, yep.

Jo Oliver  And then, um, ’55 you married Ruth.

Vic Chapman  Yep.

Jo Oliver  And then you, yeah, you were working till 1990. So that’s being taught by children in that area.

Vic Chapman  Yep, yep. Places like Walgett and Brewarrina, Goodooga, Tulloona, Boggabilla and those places.

Jo Oliver  And somewhere I read you are in, or have been involved with Aboriginal art students at, um, is that back at COFA?

Vic Chapman  Yes.

Jo Oliver  Mentoring…

Vic Chapman  Yeah. I was Elder in Residence there for a while.

Jo Oliver  And your main medium, ah, your main art medium is ceramics, is that right?

Vic Chapman  Ceramics.

Jo Oliver  And print making.

Vic Chapman  And printmaking.

Jo Oliver  And do you use your cultural knowledge in, in those, in, in your pictures?

Vic Chapman  Yes. All the, all the, um, etchings or printmaking have – everything that I do has a story to it. And also, to help with the teaching of language integrating into the [sound of knocking] here. The phonetic approach to teaching language is the dictionary and the picture dictionary, fantastic, it’s really fantastic,

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And the songs…

Jo Oliver  Oh, how lovely.

Vic Chapman  “Yugal”, which are the songs. And were taken, some, some of the well-known tunes like “Wheels On The Bus Go Round and Round” as well. Ah, we didn’t have any buses. So, we put our own words in: Burrulaa, burrulaa bandaarr, baawaanha giibaabu. Burrulaa – many, bandaarr – Kangaroos, baawaanha – go hopping along, giibaabu – early in the morning.

Jo Oliver  Wonderful.

Vic Chapman  And so we have a CD

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  and the songs. It’s quite, quite exciting that it’s being taught at university level.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. Well, you certainly haven’t stopped since you’ve been retired have you? You’ve just put your energies into other things.

Vic Chapman  No.

Jo Oliver  And I read somewhere that you’ve had a number of awards.

Vic Chapman  Ah.

Jo Oliver  So, tell me about those.

Vic Chapman  Oh, yeah, PSM and, um, Centenary Medal.

Jo Oliver  Wonderful.

Vic Chapman  Centenary Medal for contribution to Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. PSM for, ah, contribution to the public service, and the AM for contribution to visual arts, the Indigenous community, ah…

Jo Oliver  And your parents, what did they think of all this, about your education and achievements? How far through till they passed away? What did they know that you’d achieved?

Vic Chapman  Well, at the stage they, they had passed away. Yeah, they were still, they were still alive when, when I was, ah, I had an executive position. I don’t think they, oh, they were very proud of the fact that I’d become a teacher.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  As to whether they were impressed about me being an executive or not, I don’t know [laughs]. They were just so happy that…

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  …they made a good investment.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, yeah, yeah. Wonderful. I’m glad they got to see that because they must have been quite elderly. You were the youngest of the, of the family.

Vic Chapman  Yes, my father passed away in 1970 and he was 96 and my Mum passed away the year after, following. She was younger, about eight years younger.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. Well, it’s been really interesting Vic. And you’ve been in the Illawarra for a long time and you, you mentioned that you found that, um, you know there was still quite a lot of racism when you first came here.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Do you think that’s changed ah, over the years to now?

Vic Chapman  Ah, we’ll always have racism. Racism has always been there. Um, people are not born as racist. It’s, it’s a learned, something that is learned.

Jo Oliver  Do you have any, um, comments about the sort of Black Lives Matter movement? Is that something that you support?

Vic Chapman  Oh, course I do.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  All the recommendations that have been made about deaths in custody, how many convictions have there been of the people, the law keepers – none.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  I, I was in Shellharbour Hospital recently and one of the nurses, the sisters, there was, ah, Jamaican. And she’d, ah, she’d spent a lot of time in England, and I took this to read when I was there and she said, “What are you reading? “She said, “What’s it like?

I said there’s lots of parallels…

Yeah. And, ah, that she was, she was an interesting, interesting lady. Very, very, quite a brilliant mind, I’d say. She said, “Oh this is, this is my second job.” She said, “I’m a, I’m an entertainer as well. “And she took my hand, and she has a beautiful voice and she’s, she’s singing this song, “Brown Eyes. “Ah, and I recommended that book.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, yeah.

Vic Chapman  And she’s had very much the same experience, of course. Oh, oh, there’s my bookmark.

Jo Oliver  Is that you there?

Vic Chapman  That’s me there.

Jo Oliver  That’s you. And where is, where’s this, at school?

Vic Chapman  That, that’s at the Church of England Boys Hostel, that’s, ah, the church that I spent a lot of time in.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  [laughs]

Jo Oliver  So you haven’t talked about your church experience. And so, what church were you involved in?

Vic Chapman  I was involved with the Anglican Church?

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Ah, that church there we spent, ah, a lot of time at the, the hostel was alongside the church.

Jo Oliver  So this is in Dubbo?

Vic Chapman  In Dubbo yeah.

Jo Oliver  And was that a positive experience for you?

Vic Chapman  Holy, Holy Trinity? Um, yes yeah, yeah. Well yes, as I say, we spent a lot of time and yeah. So I was, I was a church goer, so for most of my, most of my life. When I came down here I went to the England church of course, and, um, I became friendly with the Rector of, of St Augustine’s and became a lay preacher for 10 years at Park Road.

Jo Oliver  Yeah, yeah.

Vic Chapman  So and so we, we preached at St Augustine’s and St Paul’s, which is no longer in existence now, there’s blocks of flats on there. And there was little church down at east Woonona as well, so…

Jo Oliver  And what’s been the significance of that in your life, your beliefs?

Vic Chapman  I believe there’s, ah, I have a strong belief, yeah.

Jo Oliver  And how does that fit with your Aboriginal cultural beliefs?

Vic Chapman  No problem, no problems. Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Well, it’s been really interesting talking with you Vic, and, um, is there anything else you wanted to add? I mean, I’m sure we could talk all day, but [laughs].

Vic Chapman  No, not, not really, I’ve just had a long and interesting, well, and I met some fabulous people in my time.

Jo Oliver  And you’ve certainly had an amazing influence on other people by the sounds of it.

Vic Chapman  Well, ah…

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  Well, that’s a real joy that if I can, if they feel the same as I do from the influence of, of McKinnon, Mr McKinnon, I’d be very, very happy.

Jo Oliver  Yeah. The legacy goes on.

Vic Chapman  Yes, yeah. And Murray and John really appr-, appreciated, ah, what education could do.

Jo Oliver  Yeah.

Vic Chapman  And I think that’s the, the way out of the, the hole in which Aboriginal people find themselves, found themselves.

Jo Oliver  Certainly been an example of that.

Vic Chapman  And somebody said that, ah, the, ah, expressed the thought that we are now entering our fourth phase, of, of Aboriginal people are now entering the fourth phase of their history. Phase 1 we were spoken, spoken about. Phase 2 we were spoken for. Phase 3 we were spoken to. And Phase 4 we must speak for ourselves. And I think that is happening now. In 1952, I think Teachers’ Certificate was probably the apex of Indigenous education. That’s no longer so. We have PhDs, Doctors, Solicitors. My granddaughter Kate is, was a perpetual student. She did, ah, Arts at, ah, ANU and, and Honours. And then London School of Economics. And then in Melbourne, um, she did, ah, Master of Laws, Juris Doctor. So, I said, “You’re killing yourself by degrees Kate!” [laughter]

Jo Oliver  Wonderful. Well, the story goes on, yeah,

Vic Chapman  And James, and Patrick is Director of Indigenous Education. James has just about finished Medicine. And Emily all, and Grace’s, ah, Medical Technology. So, they’ve all been influenced by education.

Jo Oliver  … legacy Vic.

Vic Chapman  Yeah, yeah.

Jo Oliver  Thank you again.

Vic Chapman  Oh, pleasure.

Jo Oliver  We’ll leave it there.

Vic Chapman  Pleasure.

Jo Oliver  But it’s been really interesting, so thanks for your time.

Vic Chapman  No problem.