Born: Established: 24 Sep 1922 Waroona ;
(Storyteller) assertion YG 09/10/07
Dot Collard is the daughter of William Davis who was of Aboriginal and Sikh heritage. Her mother was Alice McPhee who was born in Broome.
Collard's father died when she was ten years old. After her father's death, her family was forced to move out of their home by her father's old employers. Collard's mother took the family to Brookton where her tribal sister Maud Collard lived. There Dot and her siblings were forced to go to school by their mother.
Her mother remarried to help provide for the family but their step-father drifted between jobs. Collard and her sisters and brothers would hunt for rabbits and bush foods to help provide for the family. For money, she would pluck wool from dead sheep to sell, pick almonds and bash peas with a long stick to get the dried peas.
Collard left school at fourteen to help care for her step-father's mother, who taught her the Nyoongar language. Later her mother got her a maid's position at the Brookton doctor's house. Collard's mother found a small house to rent in Brookton. There was a protest about this from the non-Indigenous community but nothing was done and eventually other Indigenous families started renting houses in the town. For a while Collard lived in Wagin working as a waitress in a restaurant, and when the restaurant's owners moved to Fremantle, Collard went with them and worked as their maid.
In 1939, she started dating John Collard while he was doing his army training at Northam. They did not allow their relationship to develop because John was going overseas to help fight in World War Two and their mothers were tribal sisters.
After John came back from the war, he and Collard spoke to their mothers about their relationship. Both were relieved to find out that they were not blood cousins as their mothers were not related. They had come from the same Home and decided to be 'sisters' to help them survive being taken away from their families. Shortly after their marriage, Collard discovered she was pregnant, and the first of seven children was born.
Collard and her husband started drinking shortly after the death of her mother. Their drinking sometimes got them placed in jail but Collard always made sure her children went to school.
In 1951 Collard and her husband received their 'Australian' citizenship. Once they got the citizenship they were not allowed to let their relatives live with them if they were not citizens.
Collard's family moved to Perth, and after shifting between family homes, they found a place to live at North Beach. It was at this point she stopped her drinking but her husband continued drinking right up to his death in 1985.
Prior to her husband's death, her brother Jack Davis (qv) asked Collard if she wanted to take the part of Gran in his play 'No Sugar'. She took on the role, and the play was a success in Perth. 'No Sugar' was then performed in Vancouver for the Expo '86 Arts Festival.
After starring in 'No Sugar', Collard took on roles in 'Sister Girl', 'Barungin', 'Donkalonk' and in 'Aliwa', which was based on her mother's life. She also appeared on the television show Jackaroo.
Dot Collard is a well-respected elder in the Indigenous community and is a natural storyteller.
Source: Busted Out Laughing - Dot Collard's Story (2003)