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Aboriginal Australian midwife and elder, Josephine Violet Bulger (1900-1993), was in an institution as a child.

Josephine Bulger was born at an Aboriginal mission known as the Aboriginal Station in Brungle, New South Wales, a small community 395 km south-west of Sydney.

Brungle Station did not have a good reputation from the outset: a letter from the time records that the first station manager was regarded as a “monster.”

Managers controlled every aspect of aboriginal life on the stations. They were the only white people, other than those authorised by the NSW Aboriginal Protection Board such as the police, who were legally allowed to enter the missions.

Everything, from who Aboriginal people married to where they worked, was under the control of managers (Vinall).

Josephine was taken from her Wiradjuri parents, Frederick Freeman (tracker and stockman) and Sarah Jane Freeman (midwife) as a child and sent to the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Home.

Consequently, Josephine—or Aunty Violet as she is known—spent much of her working life in domestic service. She also assisted birthing women on Aboriginal reserves, having learned midwifery skills from her mother.

Aunty Violet had nine children with her husband Edward Walter Vincent Bulger but raised them on her own when Edward died in 1939. She also took on the care of grandchildren when their parents were unable to care for them.

Aunty Violet died on 31 July 1993 at Red Hill, Canberra.

Violet’s Park in Ngunnawal, a suburb of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory, was established in 1993 in honour of Aunty Violet. New artwork at the Violet’s Park, Meeting Place, was unveiled in 2017 by Aunty Violet’s only surviving child, her eldest daughter Agnes Shea.


“Cootamundra Training Home (1911 – 1969).” Find & Connect, 2021.

Francis, Niki. “Bulger, Violet Josephine (1900-1993).” The Australian Women’s Register, 2013.

Francis, Niki. “Bulger, Josephine Violet (1900–1993).”Indigenous Australia, 2021.,

Vinall, Frances. “Elders recall life on the Mission: an oral history of segregation.” Tumut and Adelong Times, 20 July 2017.