The children who were taken away from their families have become known as the 'Stolen Generations'. Their stories have only really come to light since the mid-1990s. Before that, many non-Indigenous people had no idea what had been happening to Aboriginal families for so many years. In 1995 the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families was launched by the Labour government under Paul Keating.
What were the effects of colonisation on the aboriginal people?
Firstly they were forced off their traditional hunting grounds and certainly herded away from the fertile coastal area where there was plenty of food. White people wrecked the very effective native fishing traps and cleared native habitat and reduced food supplies, as well as pollution their water. The Europeans also introduced foods and diseases, all of which were perfectly harmless to the white settlers, but lowered the life expectancy of the aboriginal people. Simple diseases like Measles and Influenza had shocking effects on Aborigines. Foods containing wheat and sugar resulted in heart disease and obesity among the indigenous Australians. Europeans introduced new flora and fauna which took over native habitat, leading to the extinction of many plants and animals on which the Aborigines relied.
When the aboriginal children were forcibly taken from their families, this directly led to a loss of culture, language, customs and traditions among the Aborigines. When the Europeans first came to Australia, there were around 250 different aboriginal languages in Australia. There is just a fraction of that number