The bitter disappointment of trying to help

  • Victoria K. Haskins


In mid-January 1942, Ming wryly compared herself to Lewis Carroll’s ‘looking-glass duchess [sic]’ who cried ‘off with her head!’ with futile imperiousness at every opportunity. ‘[A]t the moment could cheerfully behead Jane also,’ she continued with rising anger in her diary,

have had to walk about half a mile in the heat every time I want to ring up, we are always short of pennies & the phone box is like a furnace, & the bitter disappointment of trying to help & really succeeding in rescuing these darkies, one after another, at terrific cost to myself in mental & physical strength, to say nothing of the nervous strain of not knowing what is going to happen next, & the money that I have had to spend, and the upsets & continual worry for the whole family. I feel utterly humiliated to think that after all this effort, Jane herself could let me down, & undo all I have tried to do for all her people …1

Nearly two years after writing to Charles Duguid about the impending Welfare Board legislation and her resignation from the Citizenship Committee, Ming’s use of the term ‘darkies’ was not softened in any way; now, her tone expressed anything but affection or respect. Completely isolated in her attempt to ‘help’ and ‘rescue’ Jane, Ming’s agonized realization of her complete powerlessness and her wasted years of effort for Aboriginal rights coalesced into a sense of personal betrayal.


Bright Spot Aboriginal Woman Telephone Service Sodium Aurothiomalate Gold Therapy 
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  1. 26.
    Comment, ‘Gold Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis’, MJA, II(20), 14 November 1936, 683–4.Google Scholar
  2. 27.
    L. J. A. Parr and Eva Shipton, ‘Chrysotherapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis’, MJA, I(23), 5 June 1937, 864–74.Google Scholar

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© Victoria K. Haskins 2005

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  • Victoria K. Haskins

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