1. THE MISERY
The reader must try to appreciate just how difficult it was
to live in these times. It was the beginning of the worst
depression ever experienced in this country. Real hunger now
being experienced in Africa was the norm in Australia.
The mine disaster in 1931 and the dismissals in 1932 in
which my relations suffered paid out no compensation, there
were no social security benefits, no work and no money. This
led to people becoming swaggies, a common site in this
country. A swaggie was a swagman who put his possessions
(his swag) on his back, left his home to get itinerant
employment, working just for food and a place to place his
swag under cover of a shed or hay bale to sleep.
People were starving so sustenance was given to them. They
lined up for food (sustenance) in the streets. I still call
We're on the susso now
We can't afford a cow
We live in a tent
And we pay no rent
We're on the susso now
It was totally degrading.
My parents left Wonthaggi after the pit was closed because
of the mine disaster.
my Father, injured when a pile of rocks fell on him
underground in the Wonthaggi Mine Coal face. He injured his
Spine and his knee.
applied to the Magistrates Court for relief and was
subjected to a rigid examination as to why her children were
starving. The application reads "I declare that my children
are without sufficient means of support. I am unable to
provide for them.”
from our home unable to afford the rent. Doctors kept
insisting that Packy apply for a Totally and Permanently
Invalid pension. In spite of the medical support it was
continually refused. He is confined to bed for five months
on Doctors orders.
gets a job two days a week as a Cleaner at the Queen
Victoria Hospital. Packy is bedridden still, Bells has five
children to feed, clothe, send to school shop, cook, and do
wrote to the Welfare Department. : The children are hungry.
If we can’t feed them your Department will have to take
bedridden again. Notice to quit served for non payment of
May 1935: Packy
left for Sydney with another woman. Tom Shaw his brother
supplied the funds
June 1935: Bella
made an application to a Special Magistrate to have all five
children made Wards of the State.
We were taken into Flinders Street Railway Station, walking
there as we had no food and no money, and with the
Certificates surrendered us to the Court.
We were Wards
of the State.
Certificate number 62753 gave
the Victorian State Government total control over my
existence. Bella had no rights over us, and had to apply to
even visit us for a maximum of 2 hours every month. I have a
copy of that Certificate, and it has a strange effect on me.
It is my history of a very sad and very difficult time on
this earth, but I was far more fortunate than my Brothers as
I was so young, and had them to protect me. I am in tears as
I write this, the emotion is so strong.
“OLIVER TWIST” YEARS
I was a ward
of the state from
3 and a half years until 13 years old.
A ward of the state meant that your parents passed over all
control of you to the State of Victorian Government. You
received a number - mine was 88 - and kept that during your
length of stay. Your parent or parents had absolutely no say
whatsoever in your management. The easiest way of the reader
understanding this is to visualise Oliver Twist - but far
less brutal with dedicated but severe Catholic nuns in
control and proper food for everyone.
We were institutionalised and knew no other life. I was not
greatly affected by this because two of my brothers were
We still wet our beds and every morning we had a cold
shower. This was to punish us and make us stop. It never
worked but the nuns persisted.
Sister Mary died. She was in a coffin in the Church. Every
boy had to stand on a stool, reach down into the coffin and
kiss the dead body on the face. I am still haunted by it and
still hear the children screaming and being held down to
kiss this dead nun.
Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays so we had tripe. I
vomited every Friday, got punished, vomited, got punished.
Tripe is the only edible thing in this world I cannot eat.
You now know why.
As the head boy I had to be punished for any misdemeanor
more severely than others to set an example. I recall with
horror kneeling on a tiled area outside the chapel with arms
outstretched like Jesus on the cross. If my arms dropped I
received a whack with a feather duster on my bottom. I have
no idea how long this was but I could not keep my arms
extended. I was then given six whacks on each hand with a
feather duster and told to offer it up to the Holy Souls.
What could a seven year old boy do to deserve that? He lost
his holy picture given to him at his first Holy Communion on
October 3rd 1937. I can vividly recall this date.
I do not want the reader to believe that the nuns were
brutal. They were religious misguided fanatics who devoted
their lives to looking after deprived children aged 3-8
I was a good speller of words. I recall learning "Faith Of
Our Fathers Living Still In Spite Of Fire And Dungeon
Sword". I miss-spelt "dungeon" and was told as head boy to
stay in class. To this day I can still see the urine running
down my leg from sheer fright. I was belted with the feather
duster for getting the word "dungeon" wrong. I was 7 years
WHAT IS A FAMILY??
On 30th of October 1938 the head nun told me that I was to
go to the big orphanage. A chubby 13 year old boy was at the
front door and he told me that he was my brother Bunny. I
had no idea of what a brother was, or who he was, nor any of
I only recall that a woman came on the first Sunday of every
month - 12 times a year - for two hours at a time. I had no
idea of what a mother was nor her role in my life.
She always brought a small bag of fruit. You did not dare
eat it. After this visit, called "Visiting Sunday" the gifts
were all put together for distribution as many children had
no one to visit them.
Packy had moved back in and terrorised Bella and Bunny, but
at 16 years of age Bunny gave him a belting. Bunny had boxed
for years at St Vincent de Paul. You had to do so. It was
compulsory. After many traumas they got rid of my father
I was released on probation on 23rd of January 1943. The
Welfare department checked out your future home. Bella had
beds and some furniture and we were no longer state wards.
THE OUTSIDE WORLD
I became apprenticed as a painter and decorator. Totally
discontented my only saving was ballroom dancing. I went
with my brothers to Coral School of Dancing every Monday,
Wednesday and Friday nights for years and eventually
completed my bronze, silver and gold medallions.
I broke my apprenticeship, worked with some friends on
contract work, and was painting the Yarrawonga Post Office
when I met a local girl Margaret Clayton. We were engaged in
June 1951 and married on 26th January 1952. Margaret was a
I was employed as a maintenance painter at Mulwala Explosive
Factory where I hid on the roofs behind various buildings to
study. By doing this and attending night school after hours
I completed what is now known as year 11 and 12. I was then
transferred to office work.
Our first son Robert was born in December 1954 in Yarrawonga.
We moved back to Prahran and lived with my mother Bella for
a year, then on to our own home in Strathmore. I was still
studying all this time and completed three years of law and
accounts at correspondence school.
Uncle Tom Shaw died. Packy, our father, came from Tasmania
for the funeral. I took him home to meet Margaret. Bunny was
furious with me. He hated Packy. I didn't even know Packy.
Packy returned to Tasmania and caused us problems using my
name with a firm to get a loan. From that time on we were
never in contact again.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA –
On 1st May 1961 I left for Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. I
was made the Clerk of the Supreme Court because of my legal
studies. Margaret was left in Strathmore with Robert, Tony,
Peter and Mark, and expecting Austin. She joined me in
August 1961. We lived in a one bedroom unit above a shop in
Boroko, rooms divided by curtains.
We were cold, wet, miserable and poor in Strathmore so we
took the risk and went into the great unknown. Everyone said
we were mad. It was a great move for us and set us up for
In 1961 a croup of Cannibals was located in the Star
Mountains near the border of what is now West Irian. They
were found after slaughtering the males of another group and
eating them. They required Protein and this was normal for
them in these circumstances. The surviving group of women
and children, themselves Cannibals, were taken to Daru,
confined and attempts were made to converse with them. This
was impossible as they were nomads and no one spoke their
language, not even the surviving women and children. There
were 900 different languages, not dialects, in Papua New
Guinea at this time.
The confined group was taught how to speak Motu, a common
Papuan language in Port Moresby and the tale unfolded.
They were taught how to grow food, make mud bricks and how
to survive in one area then released back into their own
area. This is all on record. Nelson Rockefeller, the
grandson of the famous New York family, was caught and eaten
in this area in the early 1960's.
I would doubt very much if any of you ever get to meet
Cannibals as I have done. This occurred when I was employed
at the Supreme Court, first as the Clerk of the Supreme
Court, then as Sheriff, Registrar and Marshal.
In 1964 Parliament decided to appoint a Legislative Assembly
with the local people for all around P.N.G appointed to
Parliament. The elected members were brought to Port Moresby
from their Tribal Lands by aircraft. You can imagine their
fear of being swallowed by this "Balus", a giant bird to
them, not an aeroplane.
Then we had to supply them with shirts, trousers and take
them to Sogeri, just out of Port Moresby, and teach them how
to use a knife and fork and to sleep in a bed. Do not forget
that these Tribesman could not even talk to each other, yet
were sitting in a House of Parliament. One tribal leader
spent 3 years in Parliament and never even spoke a word.
THE “BAD GUYS”
Eventually after leaving Papua New Guinea I was employed at
Medibank and became their first investigator into medical
benefits fraud. I wrote the Medibank report showing that
$100,000,000 was being unlawfully claimed by Doctors by over
servicing, Fraud and illegal practices. This was the very
first exposure of Medicare Fraud and produced major
headlines in the newspapers and a national scandal, covered
up by the Medical Association. A Senate Inquiry was held and
a television program of Four Corners was produced but the
political impact led to this Fraud being sidelined and today
it is rampant. It will only get worse.
In Papua New Guinea I was a member of the Royal Papua New
Guinea Reserve Police Force, and trained the other members
in Police Law while also being responsible for their
physical training on the famous Kokoda Track, now
incorrectly called the Kokoda Trail. This error occurred
over time after the war. I walked this entire Track twice
and all of our children have walked part of it. I was a non
commissioned officer, the highest rank possible in the
Reserve and received a Medal and Certificate as reward for
THE SQUASH YEARS
I commenced squash in 1961 at Port Moresby. It was a new
game at that time.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
I commenced international squash in Papua New Guinea by
organising test with Fiji in 1974. Guam, New Caledonia, and
Tahiti joined into this competition in later years. I was
given a life membership of the Port Moresby Squash Club. I
have completed the history of Papua New Guinea squash.
I returned to squash coaching and was the captain and coach
of the Papua New Guinea Team for the first Squash
International event in the South Pacific in 1974. Thus began
Squash at International level in the South Pacific, the
Asian team events followed and the sport progressed. Also on
the trip to Fiji I began the Hash House Harriers, which is
still being run in Fiji to this day. I was a member of the
Hash Group in Port Moresby and many enjoyable runs.
I coached Papua New Guinea to two South Pacific Games
victories in the teams and the individual events and was
advised that my services were no longer required for the
third games in Western Samoa. Fiji approached me so I
coached Fiji and again on the individual and teams events,
defeating Papua New Guinea in the final of both, which gave
me a great deal of satisfaction.
coached England in the Boys World Junior Teams event and we
came runner up to Australia, Jansher Khan of Pakistan
winning the individual. Rodney Eyles, a future World
Champion whom I coached for years, came runner up. Jansher
won the world title 10 times.
coached Brazil in the World Titles after Margaret and I
lived in Rio De Janeiro for some months prior to the World
titles in Christchurch, New Zealand.
I traced my own father’s grave in Christchurch and
ultimately discovered the person who handled all of the
funeral details and was given photographs, tape recordings
and poems written by my father.
one of my pupils, David Palmer of Lithgow, N.S.W became
World number 1 and won the British Open, dedicating it to
me. He also won the U.S.Open, and this is the player that
Geoff Hunt kicked out of the AIS as not being good enough to
make the top 50 in the world .
I was present in Hong Kong when David became the number 1
ranked squash player in the world. He was captain of the
Australian team for the World Team Titles in Melbourne 2001
which Australia won, and he was again captain for the
Commonwealth Games in 2002 in England.
I also Coached John White and he has been ranked number 1 in
In my playing career I became a veteran champion, reached
the semi finals of the British Open in my over 55 age group,
twice reached the quarter finals in the World Masters Games,
won the Queensland championship beating Ernie Robins of
Stafford. We won an Australian Teams title with Austin
Adarraga with us. I was a semi finalist in the British Open
in my age group of over 60 as was the great Hashim Khan, who
actually stayed with us in Brisbane. I won two Queensland
State Titles in my age group over the years, and we won an
Australian Teams title with Austin Adarraga and Ernie
Robins. I won the Papua New Guinea veterans title (over 40)
from 1970 to 1974 inclusive.
In 2002 Margaret and I celebrated our Golden Wedding
Anniversary of 50 years, and we have five children and
fifteen grand children, with our five daughters in law
making a family of 27.
Joe Shaw, Circa 2003
Tom, Mum (Bella), Alex (Bunny).
Front Row: Charlie, Joe, John - 1939
Joe in bed in the infirmary at the
Orphange (I am in the front bed)
Joe and John at the Orphagnage in their best
Sunday clothes. 1940
Handball courts in the background.
A Squash Biography
1961 Started playing in Port Moresby (aged 31)
British Open Over 60
Australian Teams title with
Austin Addaraga, Ernie Robins and John Vary
Papua New Guinea Veterans Champion 1970, 71, 72,
Twice World Masters Games quarter-finalist
Life member of
Port Moresby Squash
Kate & Emma Major
Rodney Eyles – world champion 1997
David Palmer – world champion 2002, world number
John White – world open finalist 2002, world
number one 2004
Papua New Guinea,
2x South Pacific Games Team & Individual Titles
Fiji, 1x South Pacific Games Team & Individual
1986 England, World Junior Championships
1996 Brazil, World Team Championships
Joe in Prahran 1950, aged 20
Joe in the centre on
the Kokoda Track
Joe with the first PNG Team for the very
first International Squash competition against Fiji.
The Brasilian Team coached
by Joe in 1996. Joe at back.
David Palmer & John White
Joe with the great Hashim Khan, the first of
the Khans in the Squash world.
Wedding of Joe and Margaret in
Yarrawonga on 26th January 1952