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Back on The Block: Bill Simon’s Story

Publication date
Bill Simon
Des Montgomerie
Joanne Tuscano


Stolen, beaten, deprived of his liberty and used as child labour, Bill Simon’s was not a normal childhood. He was told his mother didn’t want him, that he was ‘the scum of the earth’ and was locked up in the notorious Kinchela Boys Home for eight years. His experiences there would shape his life forever. Bill Simon got angry, something which poisoned his life for the next two decades. A life of self abuse and crime finally saw him imprisoned. But Bill Simon has turned his life around and in Back on The Block, he hopes to help others to do the same.

These days Bill works on the other side of the bars, helping other members of the Stolen Generations find a voice and their place; finally putting their pain to rest. He works on the streets, in jails, in churches and his home in Redfern is a drop-in centre for anyone in need.

From his home on The Block in Sydney’s Redfern, one of the most contentious and misunderstood places in Australia, Bill Simon tells the truth about life in one of Australia’s most terrible juvenile institutions, where thousands of boys were warehoused and abused.

Bill Simon is a pastor who works on The Block in Sydney’s Redfern, assisting Aboriginal people and particularly fellow members of the Stolen Generations.

Des Montgomerie has worked with Indigenous outback communities and has also recorded many interviews with members of the Stolen Generations.

Jo Tuscano has worked in education and multicultural community programs for many years and has an MA in Creative Writing.

The first insiders's view of Kinchela Aboriginal Boy's Home, and an important insight into the brutality of the NSW government's policy of assimilation.

— Dr Gordon Briscoe

Read the teacher's notes


ABC Brisbane, 20 May 2009
Redfern Oral History, 26 March 2002