This story starts with Samuel Jacob he was a headmaster in Merauke in Dutch New Guinea, a job he combined with being a local civil administrator. Samuel and his family while having the Dutch nationality, were all born in Ambon. Together with his family he was evacuated in August 1942 to Australia. Here he worked with the Netherlands East Indies Government-in-exile in Camp Columbia for the re-building of Indonesia after the war. He attended the school for civil servants that was established by Acting NEI Governor General Hubert van Mook in Melbourne. Under the White Australian Policy, it had been negotiated with the Dutch Government that they, as all ‘Indonesians’ (non-whites), would go back after the war.
Samuel went back to Merauke in 1944 for a reconnaissance visit but, on the way, back his plane crashed near Mossman in Queensland.
Desperate to look after her family Samuel’s wife Annie married her landlord, John O’Keefe an Australian. Together with their seven children they settled in Melbourne. The kids were among the best pupils of their school and the family therefore wanted to stay in Australia.
However, the Australian government wanted her and her family to leave. This became a political issue as the community around her as well as the national press got behind her, and eventually in 1949 a High Court ruling allowed her to stay, this case became the first crack in the White Australia Policy, while over subsequent years watered down considerably it was only officially repealed in 1973.