ART OF AGEING: Meet lifelong friends Jim and Stu.
ART OF AGEING: Meet lifelong friends Jim and Stu. Kerri Ambler

Art of Ageing: Meet lifelong mates Jim and Stu

JIM and Stu are everyday seniors who represent the wonderful diversity of NSW's older residents.

Their story reflects an Australia unique to its older generation - a contrast of values, emotions and personality in an ever-changing landscape.

Seniors News, with the help of the NSW Government, will be telling Jim and Stu's, and many more seniors' stories in a six-week series.

Their stories can also be glimpsed in a 30-image exhibition that will be touring NSW throughout 2018 and 2019.


The story of lifelong mates Jim and Stu

Jim and Stu have been great mates for over 60 years. They met in 1955 at Fairbridge Farm School, a home for child migrants outside of Molong.

Stu was taken from Manchester at the age of four. He stayed at Fairbridge for 13 years, making him the longest resident. Jim was just three when he was taken off the streets of Scarborough, along with his older brother. He spent 12 years at Fairbridge.

"We got told that we came down a sewage pipe and they caught us with a net. We were 'guttersnipes'."  says Jim. "We were also told that we were orphans. We weren't, but they intercepted our mail. We never heard from our parents."

"Public thrashings were the norm. They would happen up on a stage. If you were caught smoking, you'd have to choose between the hockey stick, cane or a plumber's rod."

"When my kids were born, it took me years to show them any affection because we never had any," says Stu. "If someone put their arm around you, you'd suspect they wanted to muck with you."

"The main ethic on the farm was work," says Jim. "We got up at 5.45am to polish the floors. After you turned 14, you went to work in the dairy. Get up at 3am to milk the cows ... We had our own veggie garden, made our own bread. We learned skills, but no education."

These days, if the men are feeling a bit down, they meet in Orange, have 12 cups of coffee, a plate of scallops, a few laughs, and then go home.

Jim and Stu were among the estimated 7,000 child migrants brought to Australia to live in institutions like Fairbridge. As well as losing their families and homelands, many child migrants experienced abuse and neglect. In 2009, the Australian Government made a national apology to the Forgotten Australians and former child migrants.



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