Basil’s Journey to Reconnect with Family and Identity

Basil has been working for OC Connections Enterprises for 26 years. Just before COVID-19, he was made Team Leader in the Skin Packing department – a role he’s proud of. His life-partner, Christine, has been an OCCE employee for 36 years, and recently they celebrated their wedding anniversary at the Sovereign Hill Hotel in Ballarat.

With their strong leadership skills, contagious personalities, and knack for storytelling, Basil and his wife Christine are irreplaceable parts of the OC Connections community.

Christine’s family has been welcoming of Basil since they met as teenagers at an OC Connections disco night. For the last six years, they have been living with her father, supporting him as he gets older. Christine’s brothers, Greg and David, live nearby in OC Connections’ Specialist Disability Accommodation homes. But Basil always felt that something was missing.

When he was young, he and his siblings were made wards of the state. His father, a decorated veteran, passed away before he was born, and his mother couldn’t support the family alone. He lived in many different homes over the years and, gradually, he lost contact with his siblings.

With the support of Donna, Veronica and Athena from OCCE, his partner Christine, and a well-connected regional network, Basil has been reconnecting with members of his family across Australia.

One brother, who resides in New South Wales, maintained their relationship over the years and made Basil godfather to his child. Basil located and visited his mother’s grave earlier this year, and now, he is rebuilding a relationship with one of his sisters.

Recently, Basil learned that his sister, who he lost contact with at 17, was a regular attendee of Ballarat’s Country Music Festival.

Coincidentally, the following Country Music Festival was on the weekend of Basil’s birthday. He went up to Ballarat with Christine and, as if by fate, reconnected with his long-lost sister. Since then, they have spent time together at their homes in Glen Valley and Melbourne respectively, and their relationship has blossomed.

“There’s been a lot of water going under the bridge… a lot of catch-up. But if you looked at her, and looked at me, you would see that we’re brother and sister.”

Basil has been reliving memories of his childhood that he’d forgotten, and learning more about how he grew up, through his sister. Currently, he’s going through the process of claiming his files from the Department of Family, Fairness and Housing. Hopefully, Basil says, there will be photos and reports from his childhood that will provide insight into his upbringing and siblings.

Reconnecting with his siblings has made a huge impact on Basil’s sense of belonging and identity. His sister has a strong memory and has been filling in some of the blanks for Basil, and receiving further information from the government will add more context to his childhood.

His family and friends in Melbourne have been incredibly supportive in his search for answers, driving him to his previous care homes in Bacchus March and helping with DFFH paperwork.

OCCE Manager Athena has played a vital role in Basil and Christine’s lives – she has encouraged Basil to learn more about himself and step outside of his comfort zone, and she even walked Christine down the aisle on their wedding day.

Basil’s next step, alongside his sister and life partner, is to visit his father’s grave. Currently the grave is unmarked, but the local RSL is organising a commemorative plaque for his father’s dedication in the war. A special service will be hosted for family and friends when the plaque is placed.

Hopefully, this will be a final stage of closure for Basil and his siblings, and will help to build a strong foundation for their growing family.

Thank you to Basil and Christine for sitting down with us and sharing this inspiring story of identity, family and connection. Congratulations on your fourth wedding anniversary, and here’s to many more.