The Stolen Aboriginal Children of Australia Arthur Hall March 2010 Newspaper Appeal 1930s in Darwin • Picture taken in an orphanage in Darwin • Minister for the Interior makes appeal • „Who will take these children?“ • Notice the cross (and where it is!) • A white Australian lady had made her choice She wrote • “I like the little girl in centre of group, but if taken by anyone else, any of the others would do, as long as they are strong“. Outcasts • People in Melbourne and Sydney • Should take the children “to rescue them from becoming outcasts“ Here they wait in a camp… Systematic genocide • „This was part of a long term government plan to assimilate Indigenous people into the dominant white community by removing the children from their families at as young an age as possible, preferably at birth, cutting them off from their own place, language and customs, and thereby somehow bleaching aboriginality from Australian society.“ » Carmel Bird author of ‘The Stolen Children – their stories‘ The effect on those children • feeling of emptiness, • of having a sense of a hole in their hearts • loss of family, language, culture, identity • catalogue of the abuses they suffered at the hands of white families and missionaries • the original wound is that which was inflicted at the moment they were torn from their mothers • Sometimes this happened with the mother's consent • the family being tricked into believing the separation was for the good of the child who would go away and be nurtured and educated and even loved Historical background • “The raping and abduction of women and the stealing of children have always been part of the story of conquest -- acts which brutally illustrate new, imposed relationships of dominance, submission and humiliation.“ » Henry Reynolds The 1819 situation • Queensland Native Police officers were well known as suppliers of Indigenous children • When asked the government officials said they couldn‘t stop it because: – profitable – Ready market – Settlers eager to boy young boy or girl – Girls as useful as bovs around camp – Girls less likely to run away – Girls provided sex to womanless white men 20th century tragedy • State and federal governments decided to remove children from their families • Repetition of the mistakes and cruelties made by individuals in the colonial times • Government took action on a much larger scale • Culture government departments had little to offer • They never spent enough money on Indigenous children • Anything was good enough for them • Food and clothing were inadequate • Staff were usually unqualified. Zealots • Misfits often ended up as supervisors and teachers • Education was deliberately inferior Aborigines handled as lesser people • Aborigines could only do unskilled labour • Of the lowest kind • An educated Aborigine was an anomaly who could never find an appropriate place in white society • Educated Aborigines were likely trouble-makers • So-called Cheeky or uppity 'niggers' were treated with ruthless brutality in order to keep them 'in their place' Not all Australians are insensitive to injustice The final acceptance of the mistakes made • Bringing them Home – an inquiry • Set up by Attorney-General Michael Lavarach August 1995 • National Sorry Day set up 26th May 1998 Jan Mayman: ‘Sorry Time‘ • Sorry Time was eerie Music, like a rising wind: • the song of tribal Aborigines in mourning. Afterthoughts • Australia imprisons its Aborigines at between 19 and 29 times the rate of the rest of the population • Giving special treatment to Aborigines (more warnings, light sentences and so on) treats the symptom, not the cause • It is a solution which allows mainstream Australia to deny that there is (as much of) a problem, but it does not solve the problem No real solution in sight… • Move them to remote settlements – so we can't see the problem • Take their children away – so we can't see them suffering • Give them three generations of welfare – so we don't have to see the suffering • Try to keep them out of gaol – so we don't have to have people protesting about the high imprisonment rates Thanks – any questions?
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