Rabbit Proof Fence Study Guide

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7.2 The varying experiences of the Stolen Generations
Dreamtime: the time of the creation of the earth, living things and the beginning of knowledge, from which emerged the laws, values and symbols important to Aboriginal society. Stolen Generations: term used to describe the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who, while children, Australian state and federal governments forcibly removed from their families. The term usually refers to those taken during the period from about 1910 to around 1970. For most Australians, the family unit is where people should be cared for, protected and educated in the behaviour and customs of their society and culture. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, feelings of kinship are also important. Kinship involves special bonds that link an individual to the extended family group. It includes an understanding of the value of sharing and being able to rely on the support of family members and those who understand the Dreamtime. Kinship also involves respect for elders who pass on the important traditions, values and stories within Indigenous culture and who serve as role models for younger members. By the late 1980s, there were more than 100 000 people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent who had: sõ lost their links with family and land sõ lost their understanding of kinship sõ missed out on being educated in the language, culture and traditions of their people. They are the Stolen Generations — Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders who, while children, Australian state and territory governments separated from their families, usually by forcibly removing them.

SOURCE 7.14 An extract from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s (HREOC) report, Bringing Them Home — Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, 1997 (see pages 266–7) indigenous: the term used to describe the ‘first peoples’ of a particular country. Since the 1980s the Commonwealth Government has defined an indigenous person in Australia as ‘a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted by the community with which he or she is associated’. Nationally we can conclude with confidence that between one in three and one in ten indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities in the period from approximately 1910 until 1970. In certain regions and in certain periods the figure was undoubtedly much greater than one in ten. In that time not one family has escaped the effects of forcible removal (confirmed by representatives of the Queensland and WA Governments in evidence to the Inquiry). Most families have been affected, in one or more generations, by the forcible removal of one or more children.

SOURCE QUESTIONS
1 Identify the estimated percentage of Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families

during the period from about 1910 to around 1970.
2 Outline two ways in which this practice has affected Indigenous families.

Government policy
On average, Australian governments removed about one in 300 white children from their families in the twentieth century. People began removing Indigenous children from their families not long after the arrival of Europeans in 1788. State governments began to systematically remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their parents towards the late nineteenth century and continued doing so until the late twentieth century. They: sõ established laws (‘Protection’ Acts) to empower them to do this sõ established Protection Boards to administer this policy sõ gave power to police and Protection Officers to implement it sõ took over from parents their roles as legal guardians of their children. A minority of politicians expressed concern that these laws and practices amounted to ‘stealing’ children. Some argued that these children would be exploited as...
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