Stolen Generation How And Why Were Aborogonal Children Removed From Their Families? What Did The Government Think Of This?

4984 words - 20 pages

From the late nineteenth-century to the late 1960s - even the dates are somewhat uncertain so little do we know - Australian governments, as a practice and as a policy, removed part-Aboriginal children from their mothers, parents, families and communities, often by force. Some of these children were taken at birth, some at two years of age, some in their childhood years. The babies and children were sent either to special purpose institutions, or in later years especially, to foster homes. In some cases mothers or families knew where their children had been taken and were able to maintain some continuing connection with them. In other cases they had no idea of the whereabouts of the babies or children who had been taken from them. In some cases within the institutions and the foster homes the children were treated well, although even here, it would appear, frequently with condescension. In other cases physical mistreatment, sexual exploitation and more extreme forms of humiliation were common.In the period before, roughly speaking, 1940, the period this essay focuses on, the part-Aboriginal children were taken from their mothers and families under separate legislation which gave unlimited guardianship to the Aboriginal protectors in their state of origin, frequently without even giving to the parents the right of appeal to a court of law. Increasingly after 1940 these part-Aboriginal children were taken from their mothers and families under the general child welfare legislation which was, however, in their cases interpreted in such a way that the practices of child removal seem to have continued much as before. Only very gradually did the custom of separating part-Aboriginal babies or children from their mothers merge with general non-Aboriginal practices concerning child abuse and neglect. This time came, probably, as late as the l970s. No-one knows exactly how many babies and children were, between the late nineteenth-century and the late l960s, removed. The degree of uncertainty is captured in the figures of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report, Bringing them home. It suggests that somewhere between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal children were separated from their mothers during these years. A figure of one in ten is startling enough. But the difference between one in ten and one in three is very great indeed. All that one can say for certain is that in the seventy or so years in question, tens of thousands of babies and children were removed. Yet there is an even more extraordinary fact than this. Until the last year or so, most non-Aboriginal Australians either did not know or were at best dimly aware that for some seventy years Australian governments had been involved in a more or less routine practice of part-Aboriginal child removal. This was something almost every Aborigine understood.IIHow did the twentieth-century policy and practice of Aboriginal child removal begin? It seems, on present understanding, the...

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