Categories: Australia

Kerry White: Indigenous No campaigner describes the Stolen Generation as a ‘mistruth’

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Pictured: A 1934 newspaper clipping announcing the adoption of Aboriginal children.

The Stolen Generations were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families, as recently as the 1970s.

The first Aboriginal Act was passed in Western Australia in 1905, and the Chief Protector became the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and “half-caste” child under the age of 16.

Similar laws were soon passed in other states and territories, including the New South Wales Aborigines Protection Act in 1909 and, in 1911, the South Australian Aborigines Act and Ordinance on the aborigines of the Northern Territory.

From the time the first law was passed until 1970, between one in ten and one in three Indigenous children was removed from their family or community.

In 1937, a Commonwealth-State conference on “Native Welfare” made assimilation national policy.

“The destiny of natives of aboriginal origin, but not of pure blood, lies in ultimate absorption… with a view to enabling them to take their place in the white community on an equal footing with whites”, indicates the policy.

In 1967, a referendum was held to amend the Australian constitution, establishing laws for Aboriginal people who were also included in the census for the first time.

Two years later, all states had repealed legislation allowing the removal of indigenous children for “protection” purposes.

In 1975, Parliament introduced the Racial Discrimination Act, making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, regardless of state or territory law.

Eight years later, the Aboriginal Child Fostering Principle was established, ensuring that Aboriginal children were placed with Aboriginal families when adoption was necessary.

In 1997, the parliaments and governments of Victoria, Tasmania, ACT, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia all issued public apologies to the Stolen Generations.

A report called Bringing Them Home, tabled in Parliament, recommended that the then Prime Minister John Howard apologize to the Stolen Generations, but he chose not to do so.

The first Sorry Day took place on May 26, 1998, in remembrance and commemoration of the mistreatment of the country’s indigenous people.

A memorial to the Stolen Generations was launched in 2004, and in 2006 a Stolen Generations Compensation Scheme was established in Tasmania.

On February 13, 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd issued a public apology to the Stolen Generations.

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