Growing up in a small town, Rowena Ashley's son Michael has had to endure racism from a young age. This is a story about achieving against the odds.
ROWENA ASHLEY: Michael won a baby competition. A man said to me, "These children are so lucky to have such wonderful parents to adopt them."
"Oh, he's not adopted. He is my natural son." He looked at me with disgust and hurried off, mumbling under his breath. I was confused. After all, I grew up in Adelaide with parents who had immigrated from England. We lived in an area with the smell of industry and where everybody came from another country.
Michael attended a grammar school. Here I felt he would be treated like everyone else, because these were educated people, professionals, with children of tolerant upbringings. On Presentation Night, Michael was receiving his awards. "Oh, this looks like it will be a ching's night again," came from the seat behind me.
Days later, my son came home upset. A boy had said that if you're my mother, I must be adopted, and therefore must be a bastard. The pain I felt for him took my breath away. We supported each other and carried on.
After a year overseas, Michael came to stay with us in 2005. Korumburra is a small town nestled amongst rolling hills in Victoria. It seemed a friendly town to me, but I saw a different town when he was spat on and insulted by locals when he was alone in the street.
Michael's rewards have been hard-earned. Now a doctor of theoretical physics, he has many friends and is respected in his field.
It's the new millennium-- the Iraqi war, John Howard, Band Aid concerts trying to feed the world. Imagine if people could change.