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Activist and author Monica Clare was in institution and foster care as a child. She was born near Goondiwindi in Queensland to an Aboriginal man, shearer Ron McGowan, and Englishwoman Beatrice Scott, who died in 1931 when Monica was seven years old.

Monica and her younger brother, Dan, were removed from their father after Beatrice’s death. They went first into a children’s home and then into foster care where they were happy. When Monica was eleven the children were removed and separated and Monica sent off to another children’s home to train as a domestic servant.

Monica gave up domestic work at the first opportunity and got a factory job, learning how to write shorthand and type at night school. She later advocated for improved housing for and non-discriminatory treatment of Indigenous Australians.

Monica Clare’s novel, Karobran (1978), fictionalised her childhood and is thought to be the first book written by an Aboriginal Australian woman.


Horner, Jack. “Clare, Mona Matilda (Monica) (1924–1973).” Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 13 , (1993).