Noelene Melville White, 10 November 1933 – 25 June 2023

Left - Right: Janette (Jenny), Noelene and Ross White after arriving at Carrolup in 1946. Noel & Lily White Collection.

With great sadness, on 6 July, we laid to rest Noelene White, eldest daughter of Noel and Lily White and sister of the late Janette and Ross White, whose careful custodianship of the Carrolup School papers assembled by her parents contributed so much to our knowledge of the Aboriginal Child Artists of Carrolup.

I first met Noelene (a Rita Hayworth look-alike) back in late 1985, not long after I had been asked by the Marribank Community, formerly Carrolup, to help them create a Cultural Centre to tell the local story of the Aboriginal Child Artists of the South-West.

Pat Nunn, a former Anthropology Student at the University of Western Australia, had then completed her Graduate Diploma in Social Work, which was the way things were done back then—now it is a complete Bachelor of Social Work. She found herself at Marribank Family Centre, run as a refuge for families needing respite, as its Social Worker, with her husband Courteney working there as Manager. They came from Lesotho, in southern Africa.

After the regional meeting at Marribank that proposed the Project and asked me and the then Anthropology Research Museum at UWA (now the Berndt Museum of Anthropology) to assist, Pat put me in touch with Margaret Edenburg, a daughter of Florence Rutter (who actively promoted the Child Artists throughout Australasia and Europe), living in Perth.

In turn, Margaret connected me to Noelene, and we hit it off straight away, and became close friends. She worked as a telephonist, and then as the trainer telephonist for Telecom, as Telstra was called back then. It had previously been known as the Post-Master General’s Department.

She wanted the story of the Child Artists to be told, out of respect for the children: their creativity, and what they and their families had been through as members of what is now known as the Stolen Generations.

Noelene also wished for recognition of the dedication and determination of her own parents and their achievements.

She was close to several of the surviving Carrolup Child Artists. Sadly, these have all now passed.

I remember Noelene for her smile, her happiness, and her generosity to others.

NB. There is an error below on the funeral notice. Noelene passed away on 25 June 2023, NOT 25 July.

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