Between 1909 and 1969 an officialgovernment policy gave the consent for the removal of Aboriginal children without the approval of their families. The removal was managed by the Aborigines Protection Board (APB) in the frame of the assimilation policies that encouraged the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to become assimilated into the society in an attempt to eradicate Indigenous people and to end with what was seen asan inferior race.
In that project of “racial purification” Aboriginal children were taken from their parents, forcing them to reject their Aboriginality in order to make them “whiter”. Many people supported this initiative, believing they were doing the right thing and helping Aboriginal people to have a better life(Jens-Uwe Korff, n.d.) . Children were put in institutions, fostered or adopted,under the expectation that they were to become labourers or servants. Thus, the education they received was substandard and the supposed improvement of their life conditions never happened.
It is impossible to calculate the exact figure of children removed since most of the records have been lost or destroyed, but it is estimated that around 100,000 Indigenous children were separated from theirfamilies and became the Stolen Generations (Jens-Uwe Korff, n.d.). Other estimations (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 1997: 4) calculate that between 1 in 10 and 3 in 10 Aboriginal children were separated from their families during the years in which the policy was in effect.
For many of these children it have been impossible to track their families. They still do not know who theyare and where are they from.
The adoption of the European culture and behaviour by the Aboriginal children was expected to be the main consequence of the removal policy in order to make the race disappear. It is true that most of the children removed from their families lost “their culture, language, spirituality and self-esteem” (Jens-Uwe Korff, n.d.) but they suffered more thanthis. Few of them benefited from an improvement to their socio-economic status, trough having access to educational opportunities and gaining other advantages. However for the majority of these children the damage caused by the removal was huge, making them suffer “life-long negative consequences” (Reconciliation, n.d.).
According to the “Bringing Them Home Report” (1997), the long-lastingeffects that people belonging to the Stolen Generation suffered can include loneliness, insecurity, low self esteem, depression and suicide, delinquency and violence, worse health, alcohol and drug abuse or shorter life span. They can also suffer of a loss of identity, problems to find their religious beliefs, internal guilt, difficulties parenting, inability to manage relationships or loss of culturalaffiliation.
The Stolen Generations were separated from their cultural identities when they were moved away from the tribal elders and prohibited to use their languages and practices. They were disconnected from the land by “cutting their ties with the Dreaming” (Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission 1997).
These consequences, whose list may never end, show that the removal of thechildren did not result in their best interest. These generations suffered an experience that marked not only its life but also Aboriginal and Australian society in the past, present and future.
The National Inquiry
In the 1990s the Australian Human Rights Commission started an inquiry about the removal of Indigenous children in the previous decades. The report derivative of the inquiry found...