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Stolen Generations

An estimated 100,000 children were taken from their families over a 60 year span. Educate yourself here on the Stolen Generations, lest ye forget.

Submitted 5/1/2006 By rachelhiggi Views 92648 Comments 20 Updated 1/13/2009

What are the Stolen Generations?

The Stolen Generations are a group of Australian Aboriginals who were taken from their families according to Australian government policy between 1910 and 1970. While it is unclear exactly how many children were taken from their homes, some estimate that the numbers could be between 1/3 and 1/10 of all Indigenous Australian children born during that time.

Most often, the children who were taken had some non-indigenous ancestry and were five years old or younger. They were taken from their homes without parental consent and forced into orphanages, foster homes or labour camps, where they were trained as domestic servants or farm hands. No matter where they were, though, these children were always placed under the supervision of non-indigenous Australians.

Why were they taken?

According to federal policy, the Stolen Generations were taken from their homes and communities ‘for their own good’. White Australians believed that it would be beneficial for Aboriginal children with some ‘white blood’ to grow up in white society. The goal was to eventually assimilate all Aboriginal children into white society.

What were the consequences?

While some children did find happiness in their new living situations, most did not. According to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s 1995 report on the Stolen Generations, Bringing Them Home, children who were taken from their homes suffered many consequences, including:
  • little or no education
  • harsh living conditions
  • possible sexual or physical abuse
  • loss of indigenous culture, language and identity.

The removal of indigenous children from their communities harmed not only the children, but on a larger scale, the communities themselves. As a result of this Australian policy, languages and cultural practices of many indigenous communities were lost.

What’s being done now?

The HREOC report suggested over 54 actions to take concerning the Stolen Generations, which generally fall into five categories:
  • acknowledgement and apology from the federal and state or territory governments
  • guarantees against repetition
  • restitution (meaning counselling and language, culture and history centres)
  • rehabilitation (meaning mental health programs and parenting services)
  • monetary compensation.

The former federal government contributed over $100 million in aid in Aboriginal development over the past 10 years. However, few of the actions suggested in the HREOC report were acted upon. The federal government issued no apology and New South Wales was the only state government to do so.

Following the 2007 election, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that a ‘real, meaningful and substantive’ apology would be made to the Stolen Generations on Wednesday, 13 February 2007.

The Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, began meeting with Indigenous groups such as the National Sorry Day Committee and the Stolen Generations Alliance, in January 2008, to discuss what the apology should include.

Indigenous groups and Stolen Generation Victorian chairwoman Lyn Austin are also asking for monetary compensation to be included in the apology. Macklin says compensation will not be paid by the federal government. Instead, they will be investing in health and education for Aboriginal people as well as counselling and services to help individuals find relatives. ‘The intention is to build this bridge of respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia’, said Mr Rudd.

This page was updated by ActNow members Rita and Adrienne

How do I know this?

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 'Bringing Them Home Education Module'
www.humanrights.gov.au/bth

European Network for Indigenous Australian Rights: The Stolen Generations http://www.eniar.org/stolen.html

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 2005, 'Face the Facts: Some Questions and Answers about Refugees, Migrants and Indigenous Peoples in Australia'

SBS World News Australia online, ‘Rudd to apologise to stolen Generations’, 26 Nov 2007 http://news.sbs.com.au/worldnewsaustralia/
rudd_to_apologise_to_stolen_generation_136382
 

ABC news online, ‘Stolen generations delegation to lobby govt’, 9 Jan 2008 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/01/09/2135217.htm  

SBS Wold News Australia online, ‘Govt rules out stolen generation compo’, 7 Jan 2008 http://news.sbs.com.au/worldnewsaustralia/
govt_rules_out_stolen_generation_compo_537483
 

SBS Wold News Australia online, ‘Government begins work on sorry’, 11 Dec 2007 http://news.sbs.com.au/worldnewsaustralia/
government_begins_work_on_sorry_137306

Discuss Now

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BlackMamba 10-Oct-2011

I think that it is kind of stupid that this happened but even more, it took so long for the government to apoligise. Thank you Kevin Rudd. It took alot to say something like that but I think it is a step up to the re-connection of the Aboriginal and European settelers' decendents.

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ciel 29-Apr-2011

i am using this site for information because of a history assignment and this site is just great for inforation and has helped me understand a bit more, so thank you.
and i truely am sorry to the stolen generation what they went through must have been heart breaking and torturous, my friends mum was a "stolen" child a she still cant sleep well at night.

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Junjeddi 21-Aug-2009

Its amazing how many people really understand that meaning of Stolen Generation. My grandmother was a "Stolen" child and taken away from her mother and raised in an orphanage. She suffered terribly at the hands of 'people' who thought they were 'doing good' for Aboriginal people.

Its so sad that today there is still no recognition for the suffering. I agree the Official Apology was a wonderful thing, and I praise PM Kevin Rudd for this, but since then there has been almost nothing done for Aboriginal children who were stolen.

In some states and territories money has been paid out but in other states the amount of monies has been lowered. While no amount of money can account for the suffering of these children, recognition and the truth, and acknowledgement go along way.

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Sidney Blitner-Watts 30-Apr-2008

You know it doesn't really matter bout how you felt back then, what matters is how you feel right now. We can continue down the path of who is right and who is wrong or we can simply make a choice to change. Forgiveness gives you permission to move on from the old and replace it with the new. I forgive your ancestors who were only doing what they thought was right for our children and I no longer blame you, their descendants. You didn't invade our land, we let you in. You didn't steal our children, we gave you reason to take them. It is time that we, as the original inhabitants accept that our path is to walk alongside other Australians – as one.

We are all in this together. - Sidney


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splotgem 24-Apr-2008

wow! These kinds of stories - no matter how many of them I read still baffle me to a degree! Am very glad that we're starting to really work towards a better and more equal society!



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