Aboriginal Stolen Generation

What is Aboriginal stolen generation?

The term applies to the generation of people that were affected by Australian Government’s policy of child removal between 1909 and 1969.  

Between these years, at least 100,000 Aboriginal children were removed from their parents.

aboriginal stolen generation
         Aboriginal stolen generation by Steve Evans via Flickr.com

The “Aims” of the Policy
Not understanding Aboriginal culture, the early white people thought that Aboriginal People didn’t take care of their kids very well. So the policy’s main argument was that those kids needed help! It has also been stated that half-caste kids were an embarrassment and they were left behind and not looked after. However no-one really knows how much those statements were exaggerated in the early days. Some other arguments were that because the populations of Aboriginal People had declined a lot since the white people came to Australia (obviously because they had been killing them for 100 years!), Aboriginal People could “die out”! They could supposedly not sustain themselves as a full blood race anyway, so by removing their kids at least they were saved from extinction!

The Practice
“Help” was provided by removing the kids from their parents, separating the siblings, and placing all the kids to half-caste institutions, were they were not allowed to speak their tribal language, they were forced to live in white peoples’ way, and the intention was to make them to reject their Aboriginality. Some luckier ones were placed in white peoples’ families, not that it saved them their cultural heritage but at least they lived in a family.

The Results of Aboriginal Stolen Generation
Even though some of the white people thought at the time that they were doing the right thing, no-one can argue against the fact that the parents’ and the kids’ feelings were totally ignored.

Rabbit Proof Fence

In 1931, three Aboriginal girls ran away from the "Moore River Native Settlement" near Perth, where they had been placed by the white authorities. They walked 2,400km, for nine weeks, across the inner Western Australia north to their home and parents in Jigalong. What a massive walk, and bush knowledge they had to survive! To not to get lost they followed the Rabbit Proof Fence that crosses the continent between south-western WA and the Kimberley region in the north. One of the girls was the mum of Doris Pilkington Garimara who wrote a book, "Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence", about the true story. In 2002, a drama film - Rabbit-Proof Fence - was made, based on the story, and it is a fantastic watch! 


How would a mother feel to have her kid taken away and not to ever hear again how s/he is going? How would a kid feel being separated from his/her mum forever? Many of the kids were taken so young that when they grew up, they didn’t know who their parents and relatives were. They didn’t know what their background really was, what their cultural heritage was.

National Sorry Day
Of course Australians regret today that Aboriginal Stolen Generation ever happened, and today’s government cannot naturally help what happened in the last century. On 13 February 2008 however, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said an official “sorry”. Since 1998, a National Sorry Day is held on 26 May every year.

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