Author(s): Ashley Mallett
This remarkable true story pays tribute to a band of Aboriginal boys who grew up together in one group home - many succeeding spectacularly in later life. In 1945, Anglican priest Father Percy Smith brought six boys from their Northern Territory home to an Adelaide beach suburb. There, they became the first boys of St Francis, a place that would house 50 such boys over 11 years. Some were sent, with the blessing of their mothers, to gain an education. Others were members of the Stolen Generations. In their interviews with Ashley Mallett, many of these men recall Father Smith's kindness and care. His successors, however, were often brutal, and the boys faced prejudice in a wider world largely built to exclude Indigenous Australians. Yet ultimately, The Boys from St Francis is a multi-layered tale of triumph against the odds - using the early building blocks of education and sporting prowess. Many of them went on to become fiercely effective advocates for Aboriginal causes, achieving significant progress not just for themselves, but for Aboriginal people, changing their world for the better. Activist Charles Perkins, the first Indigenous man to receive a university degree, commenced his status as a national icon with the 1965 Freedom Rides. John Moriarty, the first Indigenous man picked for the national soccer team, designed the famous Dreaming images for five Qantas planes. Harold Thomas created the iconic Aboriginal flag. Vince Copley played AFL for Port Adelaide. George Kruger worked with Fred Hollows in remote Indigenous communities for nearly 20 years. The Boys from St Francis is a sometimes shocking, but ultimately hopeful book about black and white Australia, told through one constellation of lives, sharing one seaside address.