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Fraser, Rosalie (1958–)

PUBLICATION: Rosalie Fraser, Shadow Child: A Memoir of the Stolen Generation, Alexandria (NSW): Hale and Iremonger, 1998

SEX: Female

BIRTH DATE: December 1958

BIRTH PLACE: Mullewa Reserve



  • Mullewa Reserve: Rosalie was born at Mullewa Reserve in Western Australia, where her parents were living while working on the Yuin Station. (p.195)
  • Mt Helena: Rosalie lived with her parents at Mount Helena, while her father worked at the Wundowie Charcoal and Steelworks. (p.195)
  • Perth: In 1960, Rosalie and Karen were taken from their parents in Mt Helena by the Child Welfare Department, and placed in the Mount Lawley Receiving Home in Perth. (p.10) She lived in Perth on and off, in various foster homes, state facilities and houses, for the rest of her life.
  • Geraldton: Edith took her remaining children to Nazareth House in Geraldton after Rosalie and Karen were taken by the Child Welfare Department, because she couldn’t afford to feed them. (p.171)
  • Wundowie: Rosalie travelled to Wundowie with her boyfriend Shane, after fleeing the Nyandi Detention Centre. (p.135)
  • Kalgoorlie: Rosalie travelled to Kalgoorlie with her boyfriend Shane, after fleeing the Nyandi Detention Centre. (p.135)
  • Cue: Rosalie travelled to the town of Cue in the Mid West of Western Australia with Shane when his father was ill. (p.150)
  • Adelaide: Rosalie travelled to Adelaide with Shane when Vince was a baby, and lived together in a caravan park. (p.152)
  • Darwin: In 1989 Rosalie and Stan decided to sell everything they had in Perth and move to Darwin. (p.216) They were surprised to find the city had high rent prices, and returned to Perth after three months. (p.216)
  • Brisbane: Rosalie and Stan moved to Brisbane in the late in 1980s, but were forced to return to Perth to treat their son David’s eczema. (p.217)


  • n/a


  • Rosalie was eager to start school while living with the Kellys, so that she might escape her tyrannical foster mother for part of the day. (p.43)
  • When it was time for Rosalie to enrol in 1964, the Welfare Department gave Mrs Kelly funds to buy her school supplies (p.43) Rosalie was enrolled at Wandara Primary School in Glendalough, but the money went to her foster brother Joe. She had to make do with his second hand shoes, bag and pencils. (p.43)
  • Rosalie’s delight in school soon faded, when her foster brother disclosed her Aboriginality to the other students. (p.50)
  • Rosalie and Bev transferred to Maylands Primary School in 1966, after Mrs Kelly sent them to live at Mount Lawley Receiving Home. (p.62) When they were sent back to the Kellys, the Fraser girls returned to Wandara briefly before changing to St Brendan’s Catholic School. This transfer came at the request of the Welfare and Education Department, because Bev had reading problems. (p.66)
  • Bev developed a habit of stealing while studying at St Brendan’s and was sent to Mount Hawthorn Special School. (pp.66-67) Much to her disappointment, Rosalie was sent back to Wandara Primary. (p.67)
  • Throughout primary school, Rosalie’s household chores frequently made her late for school. (p.68) On one occasion her teacher, Miss Rowley, made Rosalie explain her tardiness to the class. She described her troubled home life, and was sent to the guidance officer. (p.71) When Mrs Kelly found out about the incident she beat Rosalie, until she promised to tell her teachers that she had lied about her foster family. (p.72)
  • Rosalie had a few friends at school, but Mrs Kelly forbad her from bringing any home. (p.93) She was also forbidden to go on school outings to the local pool, or join sporting teams. (p.93)
  • When Rosalie finally fled the Kelly’s house and returned to Mount Lawley Receiving Home, she was readmitted to Maylands Senior Primary School. (p.96)
  • Rosalie excelled at sport, and was captain of the softball and basketball team. (p.96) She returned to Maylands School in 1969, after another stint living with the Kellys. (p.102)
  • Rosalie enjoyed school more in 1970, because her host mother was working and she spent time at her friend Terry’s house after school. (p.106) She left the Kelly household again in April of that year, after Terry’s mother reported the abuse Rosalie suffered to the authorities. (p.107) Rosalie returned to Maylands and was captain of the basketball and softball teams once more. (p.107)
  • Life at Mount Lawley was better than with the Kelly family, but Rosalie still tried to run away from the Home on two occasions. (p.108) At the end of the 1970s she was sent to a new foster family, the Miller family, and went to South Coogee School. (p.108)
  • Rosalie returned to the Kellys in 1972. She escaped to Mount Lawley again, and then ran away. (p.120) As punishment, Rosalie was sent to Longmore Juvenile Detention Centre. She attended school at the Detention Centre, and then at the Home of the Good Shepherd, before being convinced to return to the Kelly household once more. (p.120)
  • While living with the Kellys Rosalie started at City Beach High School.
  • Rosalie returned to school briefly at the Nyandi Detention centre, but she never became competent in reading and writing. (p.125)
  • In 1988 Rosalie decided to continue her education, and returned to school with government support. (p.212)


  • Rosalie had a large domestic workload while living with the Kelly family. Every morning she cleaned the kitchen, made the beds, fed the animals and cleaned the bathroom. Often she arrived late for school because she was busy with chores. (p.67-69)
  • Rosalie starting doing two full days of housework a week after her foster mother started work as a cook at the Leederville. (p.87) She spent these days doing laundry, cleaning the house and cooking for the family. (pp.87-88)
  • When she thirteen years Rosalie old left school, and lied about her age to get a job at Freecorns in Leederville.  (p.122)
  • She used her first pay check to buy presents for her foster mother. After realising that nothing would make Mrs Kelly happy, Rosalie started saving her wages and planning her escape. (p.123)
  • After running away from the Kellys, and getting in a car accident, Rosalie was taken to Longmore and then Nyandi Detention Centre. (p.125) At Nyandi she went to school in the mornings, and worked in the kitchen in the afternoon. (p.125) She was paid with tokens, which were used to pay for board, personal items and trips to the Centre’s boutique or hair salon. (p.125)
  • At the age of fifteen Rosalie worked outside of Nyandi. She got a job at the Monarch Laundry, and was paid fifteen dollars a week. (p.130) Rosalie then started working as a sales girl at Boans. (p.130) She was dismissed because she spent too much time playing around with her colleagues and her employers thought her immature. (p.133)
  • After being fired from Boans, Rosalie fled Nyandi and went to Milagee, Wundowie and then Kalgoorlie with her boyfriend Shane. She often went hungry because she was drinking heavily and was unemployed. (p.135) Rosalie eventually found work at a firm called ‘Pre-pack’ in Perth. (p.136)
  • Rosalie was fired from the Pre-pack factory when she fell pregnant. (p.136) She was worried that the Welfare Department would take her child away if she was unemployed, and so found work as a live-in housekeeper and baby sitter. (p.137) Rosalie’s new employers were kind people and they paid her $20 a week. (p.137)
  • Rosalie was later fired when her foster mother rang her employers, and complained that she was too young and shouldn’t be doing housework while pregnant. (p.138)
  • Rather than move back with her foster mother, Rosalie used her savings to rent a place of her own. (p.139) A social worker from the Department of Community Welfare helped her to apply for special benefits, which amounted to $31.00 a fortnight. (p.140) This amount only covered her rent, so Stan provided her with an extra $20.00 a fortnight.
  • The Welfare Department forced Rosalie to return to the Kellys after she ran away from hospital when she had pneumonia. (p.140) Her payments stopped after Vince was born, so she found an after-hours job at Allens Cleaning Service. (p.144)
  • Mrs Kelly looked after Vince while Rosalie was working, until one night she came home to find her foster mother drunk. (p.143) She left the house immediately and went to stay with Stan’s aunt.(p.144) After her wedding in 1974, Rosalie cleaned the apartment and looked after the baby while Stan worked (p.149)
  • Rosalie worked for a few months at the Parmelia Hotel in Perth, and then as a kitchen hand at the Park Towers Hotel. (p.152) She took time off work when she had David and Clayton in 1977, but returned to a job as a kitchen hand in July 1978. (p.161)
  • By the time her daughter Karinda was born in 1979, Rosalie had three infants and one toddler in her care. (p.163) She and Stan had difficulty paying their bills, so Rosalie left the children with her sister-in-law and got a job as an entrée cook at the Oyster Beds Restaurant. (p.163)
  • In 1980 Stan decided to return to school. In order to support him, Rosalie sent the children to the Salvation Army Day Care and started working three jobs: as a breakfast cook in the mornings, a cold larder person at a hotel during the day, and a kitchen hand in the evening. (p.173) She had to give up her night job because she fell asleep driving home. (p.174)
  • In April 1980 Rosalie worked for a period of time as a welfare worker for the Aboriginal Advancement Council. (p.175) After her fourth gynaecological operation she took up writing as a form of therapy. (p.214)
  • In 1989 Rosalie decided to complete her education, and was given a student's allowance. (p.216) She then worked as a welfare worker and receptionist at the Aboriginal Child Care Agency. (p.219) In that year she also began to investigate her family’s past, through the Welfare Department records. (p.220)
  • In 1990 Rosalie left the Aboriginal Child Care Agency and got a job as a secretary at the Aboriginal Medical Service. (p.237) She stopped working at the end of 1992 to continue her Adult Education classes, and also started writing her life story. (p.241, 247)


  • Rosalie attended church for the first time when she started at St Brendan’s Catholic School. (p.67)
  • She continued her religious education at Mount Lawley Receiving Home. (p.97)
  • In 1990, an Aboriginal spirit visited Rosalie in a dream to warn her that her daughter would get sick. (p.237)
  • When Karinda went to a hospital with a heart condition, Rosalie used the powers that the spirit gave her to protect her daughter. (p.23) She called on the Mabarn again the next year when she saw an evil spirit in a dog near her house. (p.241)


  • Child Welfare Department: The Child Welfare Department made the Fraser children Wards of the State in 1960, when they took them from their parents’ home in Mt Helena. (p.10) They placed Rosalie and Bev in the care of Mrs Kelly, and repeatedly ignored the abuse the girls suffered at the hands of their foster mother. In 1989, the Fraser sisters tried to claim compensation for their suffering, but the Child Welfare Department only offered them counselling. (p.235)
  • Nagla: A government institution for infants in Perth. Rosalie and her sister Bev were taken to Nagla in 1961, before being placed in the care of their new foster mother. (p.10)
  • Mount Lawley Receiving Home: Rosalie’s brothers were taken to the Mount Lawley Receiving Home in 1961 before being sent to a foster home. (p.10)
  • Rosalie and Bev were also taken to Mount Lawley for a period of time in 1963. (p.29) They enjoyed their stay at the Home, because there were ample toys and children to play with. (p.29)
  • After a few weeks at Mount Lawley, Rosalie and Bev thought they were being sent home to their parents. They were disappointed when the Kellys collected them from the Home. (p.31)
  • Rosalie returned to the Receiving Home after fleeing the Kelly’s home on two occasions, but was always made to return to her foster family. (pp.96-99, 104-105)
  • In 1970 the authorities at Mount Lawley finally found Rosalie a new foster home. (p.110) But after two years with the Millers, Mrs Kelly convinced her to return to her former home. (p.112) When Rosalie fled her foster home she found herself back at Mount Lawley once more. (p.112)
  • Rosalie became restless at Mount Lawley and decided with some other Aboriginal girls to flee the Home and find her parents. (p.114)
  • Longmore Juvenile Detention Centre: Rosalie was sent to a Juvenile Detention Centre after she and some other Aboriginal girls ran away from Mount Lawley and broke into a house. (p.113) The police escorted her to Longmore, where they showered her and took her fingerprints. (p.114) Rosalie was released without charge after one night, but spent two months at Longmore after running away again. (p.115)
  • Rosalie returned to Longmore for six months after being involved in a car crash, before being sent to Nyandi Detention Centre. (p.124)
  • The Home of the Good Shepherd: a Catholic institution for State Wards or homeless children. (p.116) Rosalie was sent to the Home of the Good Shepherd from the Longmore Detention Centre. After some time she became bored and started running away from the Home. (p.117)
  • Nyandi Detention Centre: Rosalie was escorted from Longmore to Nyandi Detention Centre after running away from the Kellys and being involved in a car crash in her teens. (p.124) She was placed in isolation for the first three days, before being allowed to attend school in the morning and work for tokens in the afternoon. (p.125)
  • Rosalie escaped from Nyandi when the welfare officer tried to take her back to the Kellys, and she was placed in isolation. (p.128)


  • Rosalie and her siblings, Terry, Stuart, Karen and Beverly, all became Wards of the State in 1961. (p.10)


  • Through her childhood, Rosalie suffered physical and emotional abuse at the hand of their foster mother. The torment became so bad by 1969 that Rosalie contemplated suicide. (p.103)
  • When Rosalie was fourteen years old she escaped from Nyandi Correction Centre and lived with a friend in Northam. She started drinking heavily and spent most of the day inebriated. (p.128)
  • Rosalie was later knocked unconscious and raped by a man who claimed to be a Welfare Officer, and offered her a lift to Northam. (p.129)
  • When Rosalie escaped from Nyandi and started travelling with Shane she drank heavily and ate poorly. (p.136) She presumed this diet was making her sick, but after visiting the doctor she learned that she was pregnant. (p.136)
  • Rosalie had four major gynaecological operations during her life. (p.211) During one of her surgeries in 1984 she woke up and started having flashbacks. (p.212)
  • These painful memories stayed with Rosalie long after she had left the hospital. (p.212) She turned to alcohol to calm her nerves: drinking only when the children were in bed at first, and then during the day with weekend binges. (p.212)
  • In 1991 Rosalie had endoscopic surgery for her gallstones. The morphine made her sick, so she had to endure the pain after the operation. (p.244) She also started suffering from panic attacks at this time. (p.245)


  • Edith Herriot: Rosalie’s mother was a part Aboriginal woman who married an Englishman named Reginald Herriot at the age of 17. (p.27) Edith and Reginald had one son together before separating. (p.27)
  • Edith met Jack Johnson, a stockman at Badger Station, when she was pregnant with Reginald’s second son. Jack took over the role of father to her two children, and they moved to Yuin Station together. (p.193)
  • Edith and Jack had two children together and moved to Cue in 1956, and then to the Aboriginal Reserve at Yagloo. (p.193) Edith became depressed and started drinking heavily when she was left to look after the children alone during the week while Jack was away working. (p.194) She was charged with neglect when her fourth children, Michelle, died from undetected gastroenteritis. The court was lenient because Edith was diagnosed as schizophrenic. (p.194)
  • Jack and Edith returned to work on Yuin Station, and then moved to Mt Helena near Perth. (p.195) Edith informed Welfare Officers who visited the house that she was unable to feed her children, and was considering sending them to St Joseph’s Orphanage. (p.199)
  • At this time Jack’s cousin, Irene Kelly, offered to care for Rosalie and Karen. Edith refused to give Mrs Kelly custody of her children. But in 1961 the Child Welfare Department removed the children because Edith and Jack were drinking heavily, and often left them alone at home without food or medical care. (p.208)
  • Edith then separated from Jack and left four of her daughters – Vicki, Cheryl, Rhona and Wanda – at Nazareth House. (p.171) When she returned collect them, Edith was told that her children had become Wards of the State and sent to foster homes. (p.171)
  • Edith didn’t reconnect with her family until 1979, when Rosalie traced her down through the Child Welfare Department. She was living with her youngest daughter, Patrina, and initially denied knowing her older children. (p.168)
  • Eventually Edith acknowledged her family, and her older daughters started visiting her a few times a week. (p.177) She was often intoxicated during their visits, and her daughters sometimes poured her alcohol down the sink. (p.176)
  • The Welfare Department soon took Patrina from Edith because she was not attending school. (p.176) The Department allowed Patrina to leave Mount Lawley, but only on the condition that she live with Rosalie and Stan. (p.177) Edith was unhappy with this arrangement, and took her anger out on Rosalie. (p.177)
  • Eventually Edith’s resentment became so unbearable that Rosalie punched her mother in the face. (p.177) Patrina returned to live with Edith, as did her sister Cheryl. (p.178) Cheryl often called Rosalie in tears, because their mother had taken her social security money and kicked her out of the home. (p.178)
  • Jack Johnson: Rosalie’s father was born while her grandfather was away from their hometown of Pingelly with the army. (p.196) For this reason, it was rumoured that Jack’s father was actually of Aboriginal or Italian decent, and for this reason his father resented him. (p.196)
  • When Jack met Edith, while working as stockman at Badger Station, he took over the role of father for her two children. They moved to Yuin Station together and had two more children. (p.193) When their second child Michelle died of gastroenteritis, Jack was also summoned to court. (p.194) He was not charged with neglect, but was given a warning. (p.194)
  • Jack and Edith returned to work on Yuin Station, with the family living on Mullewa Reserve. (p.195) After Rosalie was born he took the family to Perth to visit his mother. (p.196) He was heartbroken when his mother rejected her grandchildren, because she thought her son had brought shame on the family by marrying a part Aboriginal woman. (p.196)
  • Jack began working at the Steel Works in Mt Helena, and then started chopping wood for a living. His wages were not enough to cover the family’s costs, and he was forced to leave Rosalie and Karen with his cousin Irene Kelly. (p.202) Jack feared the Welfare Department would take his children, so he bought furniture for their house using his brother’s credit card. (p.202)
  • Jack and Edith left St Helena when wood-chopping work ran out, and his brother Dick tried to sell the furniture to repay his debt. (p.202) They moved to Beverley, and Jack found work with a railway gang, and then at the Main Roads Department (p.203) He and Edith started staying out late and drinking heavily, and their children were removed by the Welfare Department. (p.208)
  • In 1961 Jack wrote a letter to the Welfare Department requesting his children’s addresses so that he might visit them. He told them that he was now sober and saving money. (p.221)
  • Jack received no reply from the Department, and wrote again in 1962. (p.222) After the Department informed him that his children were being well cared for by their new foster parents, he gave up all hope of their return. (p.223)
  • Jack then split with Edith and travelled to Ungarie in New South Wales. His sister Gloria sometimes visited Rosalie and Bev, but neither she nor the Kellys knew where Jack lived. (p.39) After reconnecting with Edith, Rosalie and Bev tried to trace their father down. (p.186) They appealed to the media and people who had previously worked with Jack, but were unsuccessful. (p.186)


  • Stan: Rosalie met Stan through a friend when she was fourteen and living at Nyandi Correction Centre. He was eighteen at the time, so Rosalie told him she was sixteen. (p.130)
  • Stan was popular with the girls from Nyandi, which led to fights when he and Rosalie started dating. (p.130) She also got into trouble when she escaped from the Detention Centre to see Stan. (p.132)
  • Eventually Rosalie fled from Nyandi to live with Stan’s aunt in Wilagee. (p.134) He was displeased when she started drinking heavily with his aunt, so Stan took Rosalie from the home and they both found jobs in Perth. (p.136)
  • After falling pregnant with Stan’s child, Rosalie confessed to her boyfriend that she was only fifteen. (p.137) Stan was angry, but promised not to leave her with his child. (p.137)
  • Stan planned to marry Rosalie in 1974, but a few days before the wedding he withdrew his proposal, declaring he wanted to travel instead. (p.147)
  • Stan changed his mind again the next day, and he and Rosalie were married at the Perth Registry Office. (p.149)
  • Stan was a good husband until he lost his favourite uncle Vincent and then his father. (p.189)
  • Rosalie also started drinking after her fourth gynaecological operation, when she starting having flashbacks to her early life. (p.213) Up until this point, she had never told Stan how she had suffered while living with Mrs Kelly. (p.212)
  • Rosalie supported Stan to continue his education through a Bachelor of Arts. Later he worked for the Austudy unit at the Commonwealth Employment Service. (p. 219)


  • Rosalie fell pregnant in 1973. She was only fifteen at the time, but her boyfriend Stan thought she was seventeen. (p.136) When Rosalie told the authorities at Nyandi Correction Centre about her pregnancy they encouraged her to give the baby up for adoption. (p.140) She refused, and they cut off her support payments after Vince was born. (p.140)
  • Rosalie fell pregnant while living in Adelaide, and had her second son Clayton in 1977. (p.153) At six months old he developed asthma, eczema and digestive problems. (p.155) Rosalie fell pregnant again when Clayton was still an infant, and the doctor recommended she get an abortion. (p.155) She refused on moral grounds, and had her third son David was born in December of the same year. (p.158)
  • In 1979 Stan and Rosalie had their first daughter, Karinda. (p.163) She had heart problems, and had to spend six weeks in hospital as a baby. (p.164)
  • As well as caring for her own children, Rosalie looked after her younger sisters, Patrina and Wanda, and her nephews. (pp.176-178) She enjoyed looking after children, and was sad to send her sons Clayton and David to school. (p.190)
  • In 1984 Rosalie and Stan adopted their niece only two days after she was born, and named her Kristal-Lee. (p.211)
  • In 1989 Clayton and David started having difficulties in school, and Vincent dropped out. (p.237)
  • Rosalie’s strong relationship with her own children made her particularly depressed that she was separated from her own parents. (p.9)


  • Karen: Rosalie’s sister, who was two years her senior. Rosalie and Karen both lived with the Kellys when they were taken from their parents in 1961. (p.11) Karen remembers being punished harshly by Mrs Kelly for minor crimes she did or did not commit, including having her head split open with a brick. (pp.12-13)
  • After just six months, Mrs Kelly applied to have Karen moved, claiming that she had masturbation problems. (p.12)
  • Karen was subsequently sent to Mount Lawley Receiving Home for three months, and then placed in a much better foster home. (p.13) Karen’s foster mother sometimes brought her to visit her sisters, but Rosalie didn’t realise she was her sister. (p.14)
  • Rosalie didn’t reconnect with Karen until 1979, when she was married and had a daughter named Monica. (p.172) Rosalie tried to convince her older sister to visit Mrs Kelly, because she was dying, but Karen refused to see her ex-foster mother. (p.17)
  • Beverly: Rosalie’s younger sister Bev also lived with Mrs Kelly as a child. She suffered the same abuse, and in response Bev started banging her head against the wall and pulling her hair out. (p.38)
  • Rosalie was excited to start school, but worried about leaving Bev alone with Mrs Kelly. (p.44) Her little sister often followed her to school, and Rosalie had to send her home to face punishment. (p.44)
  • When Bev eventually started school, the Welfare Department recommended she be sent to St Brendan’s Catholic School because she had learning difficulties. Rosalie accompanied her younger sister to the new school, until Bev developed a habit of stealing and was sent to Mount Hawthorn Special School. (pp.66-67)
  • The Welfare Department also organised for Bev to see a speech therapist, however Mrs Kelly never took her to the appointment. She also taunted Bev because of her speech problems. (p.78, 82) Rosalie remembers one night, when their foster mother got drunk and put Bev in bag and pretended to throw her in the lake. (pp.78-79)
  • At the end of 1967, Mrs Kelly announced that they no longer wanted Bev in their home. She told Rosalie that her younger sister was going to be sent away, and she would never see her again. (p.83)
  • Rosalie was devastated when she was separated from her sister. (p.85)
  • Rosalie reconnected with her younger sister by coincidence a few days before her wedding, when she was assigned to take over her room at the Nyandi Correction Centre. (p.148) Beverly came to live with Stan and Rosalie in Wilagee when she fell pregnant. (p.150)
  • Rosalie was estranged from her sister once more after a falling out. They reconnected when Bev called her from Tom Price in need of help, because she was in an abusive relationship. (p.212)
  • Irene Kelly: Rosalie’s foster mother, who she learnt later in life was her father’s cousin. (p.199) Mrs Kelly took a liking to Rosalie when she was a baby, and had offered to care for her and Karen on a short-term basis.  Her parents were forced to accept the offer because they were poor, and Edith was unwell. (pp.200-201)
  • When Jack and Edith returned to collect Rosalie and Karen, Mrs Kelly convinced them that the Welfare Department had given her custody of the children. (p.201) She also told the authorities and Rosalie that her parents didn’t want the girls, and had left them in her care. (p.202)
  • On the first occasion the Frasers reclaimed their children, but Jack was forced to return Rosalie to Mrs Kelly when Edith had another baby, Beverly. (p.207) Again Mrs Kelly tried to keep Rosalie, and claimed Edith offered her Beverly instead. (p.207)
  •  Rosalie doesn’t remember first moving in with the Kellys in 1960. Her older sister Karen recalls that Mrs Kelly favoured her own six, and was abusive towards her foster children. On one occasion, the Kelly’s son Joe blamed Karen for throwing a rock at Bob. Mrs Kelly punished her foster daughter by splitting her face with a brick, and Karen had to be taken to hospital. (p.11)
  • Mrs Kelly sent Karen back to the Child Welfare Department after six months. She claimed that Karen was disturbed, but according to the records Rosalie’s sister recovered soon after leaving their foster home. (p.13) She was placed in the care of new, much kinder foster parents. Karen’s new parents complained to the authorities about the Kellys, but Rosalie and Bev were never removed from their care. (p.14)
  • Mrs Kelly was a vicious, racist woman who regularly abused her foster daughters physically and verbally. (p.15) She beat Rosalie and Bev with the cord from an electric frying pan if they wet their bed, or hung them in a cold shower from the ceiling. (pp.15-16, 34-35)
  • On one occasion, when Mrs Kelly caught them playing in the mud, she penetrated Rosalie with a knitting needle (pp.18-20) She was forced to take her to hospital because of internal bleeding, and made Rosalie tell the doctors that her sister had caused the injury. (p.20) Two weeks later Mrs Kelly did the same to Beverly. (p.23)
  • On another occasion Mrs Kelly accused the girls of breaking an ornament, and made them run around the clothesline for hours in the dark. (p.25) On the day they returned from Mount Lawley Receiving Home, Mr Kelly force fed Beverly tripe, and then tipped the plate on her head when she vomited. (p.33) She also burned the back of their hand with a hot iron, and then applied butter to try and sooth their wounds. (p.38)
  • It wasn’t until she started school that Rosalie realised Mrs Kelly was an alcoholic. Her behaviour became maniac: sometimes she was very generous, and others she was very aggressive towards her husband and children. (pp.55-56)
  • One of the few pleasant experiences that Rosalie shared with her foster mother was Sunday baking sessions. (p.51) Rosalie watched closely as Mrs Kelly made cakes, jam tarts, scones and pies, and impressed her by replicating the recipes. (p.51)
  • Rosalie was relieved to leave the Kelly’s house in 1966, when she was sent to the Mount Lawley Receiving Home. (pp.63-65) When she returned the punishments became worse. Rosalie and Bev tried to flee the house in 1967, after Mrs Kelly chased them with a knife, but they had nowhere to run. (p.83) Every time Rosalie escaped from her foster home, Mrs Kelly managed to convince her to return. (p.120) She was not sure if her foster mother did so because she loved her, or because she wanted the money from the Welfare Department. (p.185)
  • When she was a thirteen year old, and still living with the Kellys, Rosalie left school and started working. She used her first wages to buy presents for her stepmother. (p.122)
  • After Mrs Kelly learnt that Rosalie was pregnant, she told her employees so they would fire her. (p.139) Rather than return to the Kellys, Rosalie moved into a house on her home, but the authorities made her return to her foster mother after she contracted pneumonia and fled from the hospital. (p.140)
  • Initially, Mrs Kelly was very helpful to Rosalie after her first baby was born. (p.142) She looked after Vince while Rosalie worked at Allen’s Cleaning Service. (p.144)
  • But when Vince was still an infant, Stan and Rosalie came home to find Mrs Kelly drunk. (144) They took their baby and went to stay with Stan’s aunt, but Mrs Kelly reported them to the authorities: pointing out that Rosalie was still underage. (p.144)
  • Rosalie had a fight with Mrs Kelly in 1980 about the abuse she suffered as a child, and they stopped talking. Soon after her foster mother died, and she was not included in the family party at the funeral nor listed as a daughter on the headstone. (pp.182-183)
  • Mike Kelly: Rosalie’s stepfather was a bus driver. Mr Kelly was kinder towards Rosalie than his wife, but he worked long hours and was rarely home. (p.21)
  • Mrs Kelly became increasingly paranoid as her alcoholism worsened. (p.56) Sometimes she rang Mr Kelly’s work, and told his colleagues that Mike was a violent alcoholic, even though he rarely drank. (p.88) On other occasions Mrs Kelly told her husband that she was in hospital, or that the children had been in an accident. (p.88) These lies often led to physical fights between the couple, or forced Mike to flee the house.  (p.57, 88-90)
  • From the time she was ten years old Rosalie started to stay up later with Mike at night. (p.95)
  • After Mrs Kelly died Rosalie continued to visit Mike, and they would reminisce about early life. (p.213)
  • Bonnie Kelly: the Kelly’s daughter, Bonnie, was the member of the family who was most kind to Rosalie and Bev. She deplored her mother’s attitude towards her foster children, and often implored her to return Rosalie to the Child Welfare Department (p.26, 49)
  • Rosalie recalls that Bonnie put her to bed one evening, when Mr and Mrs Kelly were having a drunken fight. (p.36)
  • Bonnie taught Rosalie how to ride when they visited her grandparent’s farm, while Mrs Kelly was away shopping. (p.47)
  • Joe Kelly: Rosalie’s foster brother. Rosalie resented Joe because of Mrs Kelly’s double standards, but they became friends later in life. (p.90)
  • Joan Kelly: the oldest of the Kelly girls. (p.54) Joan worked for Tom the Cheap when she was twenty, and gave most of her earnings to Mrs Kelly. (p.54) Around this time she began acting in a strange manner and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. (p.54)
  • Joan often babysat the younger children, and Rosalie and Joe played tricks on her. (p.90)
  • Bob Kelly: one of the younger Kelly boys, who had to attend a special school because of his learning difficulties. Rosalie recalls Mrs Kelly beating Bob with a fry cord for stealing. (p.94)
  • Uncle Dick and Auntie Gloria: Rosalie’s parental aunt and her husband. (p.39) Jack took his family to live with Uncle Dick and Auntie Gloria when Rosalie was a child. (p.198) They got along well, because they were all heavy drinkers, until Auntie Gloria and Edith started fighting. (p.198)
  • Uncle Dick and Auntie Gloria were the only relatives that Rosalie and Bev had any contact with while living with the Kellys. (p.39)
  • Uncle Dick and Auntie Gloria eventually separated, but Dick continued to visit the girls. (p.39) He arrived in a taxi with gifts and lollies, which Mrs Kelly confiscated after he left. (pp.39-40)
  • During one of his visits, Rosalie told her uncle about the abuse she and Bev suffered. (p.41) Uncle Dick swore to find their father, so they could leave their foster home. Unfortunately, he died after a drinking bout before fulfilling his promise. (p.41)
  • Geraldine: A foster child that the Kellys took into their care when she was 15. (p.92) Rosalie recalls that Geraldine ran away and had sex with strangers for money. (p.92)
  • Mrs Groves: Rosalie’s neighbour while she lived with the Kellys. (p.107) Mrs Grove repeatedly reported Mrs Kelly’s abusive behaviour to the authorities, but their ignored her pleas. (p.107)
  • Terry: Rosalie’s school friend. Being able to visit Terry’s house after school made Rosalie’s life with the Kellys more bearable. (p.106) In 1970, after Mrs Kelly beat her with a frying pan cord, Rosalie fled to Terry’s house, and her mother reported the incident. (p.107)
  • The Millers: Rosalie’s foster family from 1970 to 1972. (p.108) Pauline and Bill Miller had five daughters, a large vegetable garden, and a horse named Pearl. (pp.108) They accepted Rosalie as a member of the family, encouraged her to voice her opinion, and often took her on picnics in the bush. (pp.109-110)
  • Rosalie left the Miller home after two years, when Mrs Kelly convinced her to return. (p.112) She came to regret the decision soon after, but was unsure if the Millers would take her back. (p.112)
  • Mother Lexis: one of the nuns who ran the Home of the Good Shepherd. (p.117) She was a kindly woman, but Rosalie and the other children still rebelled. (p.117)
  • Rosalie was disappointed when she was transferred to Sister Pauline’s group, because she had grown quite attached to Mother Lexis. (p.11)
  • Lizzy: one of Rosalie’s friends from Nyandi, who she and Stan stayed with when they fled the Detention Centre. (p.134)
  • Vicki Fraser: Rosalie’s sister, who she tracked down in 1979. Vicki was living in Geraldton at the time, and caught the bus to Perth to met Rosalie and Bev. (p.171)
  • Cheryl Fraser: Rosalie’s sister, who she tracked down in 1979. Cheryl turned up at Rosalie’s house when she was heavily pregnant in 1983, because she had no money and nowhere to stay. (p.190)
  • Cheryl was not able to look after her son properly, and so Rosalie cared for him for extended periods of time. (p.191)
  • Aunty Margaret and Uncle Bob: Jack Johnson took Rosalie and her siblings to live with his brother and her wife when she was a few months old. (p.197) Rosalie stayed with them until Edith showed up at their house drunk and physically abused Aunty Margaret. (p.198)


  • Child Removal: In 1961 the authorities from the Child Welfare Department took Rosalie and her siblings from her parent, and they became Wards of the State. (p.10) They placed the Fraser children in different institutions, and ignored Jack and Edith’s pleas to have them returned. (p.27)
  • The Child Welfare Department gave custody of Rosalie and Bev to Jack’s cousin, Irene Kelly. For the next decade, they were oblivious to the abuse that the Fraser children suffered in their foster home. (pp.27)
  • Whenever the Welfare Officers came to inspect the house, Mrs Kelly gave the children clean clothes and toys. They did not suspect neglect, even when Mrs Kelly broke Rosalie’s arm prior to one of their visits. (pp.58-59)
  • The Welfare Department failed to intervene even when a neighbour reported the abuse. (p.93) Rosalie believes that they failed in the duties to investigate their home situation or allow the children to contact their parents. (p.212)
  • When Rosalie fell pregnant at the age of fifteen she feared that the Welfare Department would take her child. (p.138) A Welfare Officer helped her to apply for special benefits, but these payments were cut when Vince was born because they wanted Rosalie to put him up for adoption. (p.144)
  • When Rosalie turned 18 she received a letter from the Welfare Department stating that she was no longer a Ward of the State. (p.153)
  • Rosalie continued to keep her house in an immaculate condition, for fear the Welfare Department would find an excuse to take her children. The Welfare Department did send health inspectors to her residence, after Clayton and David got sick in 1982. (p.187)
  • In 1989 Rosalie appealed to Messrs Claudio and Shaw law firm to claim compensation from the Child Welfare Department. (p.235) They received a response from the Acting Minister of Welfare saying that the Department would not consider compensation, but would provide counselling. (p.235)

MODE OF LITERARY PRODUCTION: Shadow Child was written by Rosalie Fraser.

Additional Resources

Source Project

This biographical entry was contributed by Australian Indigenous Autobiography Archive

Citation details

'Fraser, Rosalie (1958–)', Indigenous Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 September 2023.

© Copyright Indigenous Australia, 2012

Life Summary [details]


December, 1958
Mullewa, Western Australia, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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