Topics: Foster care, Indigenous Australians, Family Pages: 23 (8442 words) Published: December 12, 2011
The Stolen Generations
The removal of Aboriginal children in New South Wales 1883 to 1969 Peter Read

The Stolen Generations

The removal of Aboriginal children in New South Wales 1883 to 1969

Peter Read

Fourth reprint (2006) First published in 1981 ISBN 0-646-46221-0

In 1981, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs published a ground-breaking paper on the Stolen Generations. The paper, written by Peter Read, was among the first attempts to document the devastation of forcibly removing Aboriginal children from their parents. Now, twenty-five years on, we are better educated about this dark chapter in Australia’s history. For many, though, the impact of these policies has never dulled and people are continuing to negotiate the devastating consequences each day. The Department is publishing this paper again to coincide with the launch of the Family Records Unit. The Unit has been set up to help Aboriginal people in NSW access records about themselves and their families. In particular, it will help members of the Stolen Generations reconnect with their culture and families. I hope that the Family Records Unit will provide some small comfort for those who have lost so much as a result of past policies and practices. The continued circulation of this booklet provides a thorough introduction to the issue of the Stolen Generations and provides an awareness of these issues for all Australians. Hopefully we have learnt our lessons well and ensure that Aboriginal people never again experience such injustice. Milton Orkopoulos, MP Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, May 2006


2006: The return of the Stolen Generations
When I wrote ‘The Stolen Generations’ in 1981, child separation was scarcely talked about. Non-Aborigines said it couldn’t have happened. The victims of separation thought it shameful to talk about their removal. They believed that maybe their parents hadn’t been able to care for them properly, or worse still, didn’t want them. Twenty five years later, thousands of Aboriginal adults have spoken out against the hurts they endured, and are still enduring. So have the parents, and the extended families of those people. And yet, one third of all the children currently in care in Australia are Indigenous. How many of them will be future Link-Up clients? As the National Enquiry showed in 1995/6, the hurt never goes away. But at least the non-Kooris concede that the policy happened and that it was wrong. The Premier has apologised. There are Link-Up organisations in every state and in the Northern Territory. The victims of separation now understand that their families grieved for them as much as they grieved for their families. Stolen Generations Link-Up (NSW), as it is now known, has thousands of people waiting for their families to be traced. They want to begin, with their Link-Up counsellors, the long and exciting journey home. Under the current wonderful Link-Up leadership, many hundreds have made that journey to embrace their parents, siblings, culture and identity. History can’t be turned back, but the Link-Up organisations across Australia are having a pretty good shot at it. Peter Read

About the Author
Professor Peter Read, with Oomera Edwards, founded Link-Up (NSW) in 1980. Peter is today the Public Officer of that organisation and Deputy Director, National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Australian National University. 2

White people have never been able to leave Aborigines alone. Children particularly have suffered. Missionaries, teachers, government officials have believed that the best way to make black people behave like white people was to get hold of the children who had not yet learned Aboriginal lifeways. They thought that children’s minds were like a kind of blackboard on which the European secrets could be written. This article is about what happened to those Aboriginal children in New South Wales who were taken away from their parents, either living on...
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