This essay will examine an aspect of civil rights or the origin that developed the need of civil rights by focusing on the following point; the stolen generation. The ‘Stolen Generations’ are the generations of Aboriginal children taken away from their families by governments, churches and welfare bodies to be brought up in institutions or fostered out to white families. The reasoning behind this was to completely demolishing the aboriginal way of life that can only be passed on to their children. In removing their children, language, tradition, knowledge and culture would be unable to be passes on. In hope of getting rid of “the aboriginal problem”. By taking the children away from the ‘bad influence’ of their parents and family it would be easier to make them more ‘European’, and force them to fit in to white society.
Removing children from their families was official government policy in Australia until 1969. However, the practice had begun in the earliest days of European settlement, when children were used as guides, servants and farm labour. The children were forced to cut off any connection with their parents. They were severely punished when caught talking their own language. Some children were never taught any traditions and received little or no education. The girls were often trained to become domestic servants and boys as stockmen. Many of the stolen girls and boys were physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Many babies were taken away as soon as they were born. These children often grew up to pass on the kinds of abuse they suffered to their own children (intergenerational trauma). Due to this, Aboriginal people suffer from many social and personal problems including mental illness, violence, alcoholism and welfare dependence. Today, members of the stolen generation are still yet to be introduced to their blood related families.
Widespread awareness of the stolen generation only began in the late 1970’s. The action that’s created this awareness managed to catch the public’s eye. These were the efforts of Aboriginal and white activists, artists and musicians. The extensive public interest in the Mabo case also created media spotlight on all issues related to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia, and most importantly the Stolen Generations. It is hard to precisely count the amount of Aboriginal children taken away in 1909 to 1969, when the Aborigines Welfare Board was abolished. This was mainly due to the loss of records. In 1999 this commonwealth Government passes a ‘statement of regret’ for the past actions. States, territory governments, church groups, organizations all delivered official apologies. In response to the apologies, the commonwealth government announced a package aimed at reuniting families and enabling Indigenous people to access archives and historical information about themselves and their families.
Almost every Aboriginal family has been affected in some way by the policies of child removal. Taking children from their families was one of the most devastating practices since white settlement and has profound repercussions for all Aboriginal people today. The actions of abolishing the harsh system can be concluded as both a success and a failure. Despite the ban on stealing Aboriginal children, the social and mental effect that still remains with the stolen generation cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, today children are continually being taken away from families. Since the Department of Community Services has the authority to remove children from their families if they were “at risk of significant harm”. Aborigines are 8 more times likely to be a subject of this. On the other hand, it was important that some laws and apologies were made due to the actions of many.
The Stolen Generations. 2014. The Stolen Generations. http://www.stolengenerations.info/. [Accessed 27 October 2014]. A guide to Australia’s Stolen Generations – Creative Spirits. 2014. A guide to Australia’s Stolen Generations – Creative Spirits. http://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/politics/a-guide-to-australias-stolen-generations. [Accessed 28 October 2014]. Why were children removed? Stealing a generation (asssimilation), Changing rights and freedoms: Aboriginal people: http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-14_u-120_t-328_c-1127/nsw/history/changing-rights-and-freedoms-aboriginal-people/stealing-a-generation-asssimilation-/why-were-children-removed-. [Accessed 29 October 2014].