The Stolen Generation


By order of the Aborigines Protection Board many aboriginal children were taken from their families and put into board controlled homes, religious and state homes. They have since been called the ‘stolen generation’.


“In NSW, Aborigines Protection Board records show that 1600 Aborigine children were placed in Board controlled homes between 1916 and 1938[1].”


From these statistics we know that this practice was common and the white Australians tried to justify it with all sorts of arguments such as it was protection for the children[2]. The removal of Aboriginal children largely ended in 1970.


Legislation allowing white people to remove Aboriginal children from their families was passed in 1915 in NSW; this was the Aborigines Protection Amending Act. This Legislation allowed the manager of a police station or police officers to order the removal of a child, with no correspondence being entered into if the Board considered it to be in the child’s best interest[3]. The Aborigines Protection Amendment Act in 1940 replaced the Aborigines Protection Board with the Aborigines Welfare Board. This now made it that any Aboriginal who was considered by the Board to be neglected or uncontrollable became a ward of the Board. This act was somewhat better for the Aborigines because it made it become necessary to have a court hearing before a magistrate before a child could be declared a ward. But the Aborigines Protection Amendment Act (in 1940) also had a down side for the Aboriginals. This was that the State had increased control over Aboriginals in all aspects of life. They did this by giving the Aborigines Welfare Board the power to be able to make homes for the education and training of wards and to try to punish any Aboriginal who left their government home. The Aborigines Welfare Board could also stop parents from visiting their children in these homes[4]. The white people had a lot of control over the Aborigines and often mistreated them. There were no laws forbidding the white Australians removing children until later in 1967.


The Aboriginals had their children removed from them by many different ways. Some Aboriginals were taken by force; the white Australians came and just took the children from the mother’s arms[5]. They were also taken when the parents of the children were away from the children:


“The circumstances of my being taken, as I recollect, were that I went off to school in the morning and I was sitting in the classroom and there was only one room where all the children were assembled and there was a knock at the door, which the schoolmaster answered. After a conversation he had with somebody at the door, he came to get me. He took me by the hand and took me to the door. I was physically grabbed by a male person at the door, I was taken to a motor bike and held by the officer and driven to the airstrip and flown off the Island. I was taken from Cape Barren in October 1959 [aged 12] [6].”


The Aboriginal mothers were also often tricked into giving up their children:


“Upon my recovery, the Social Welfare Department of the Royal Children\'s Hospital persuaded my Mother to board me into St Gabriel\'s Babies\' Home in Balwyn ... just until Mum regained her health. If only Mum could\'ve known the secret, deceitful agenda of the State welfare system that was about to be put into motion - 18 years of forced separation between a loving mother and her son[7].”


How did this situation ever develop? Some possible suggestions include: A general feeling of white superiority, a lack of understanding of the Aboriginal way of life, Christian missionary influence, or perhaps a genuine interest in the welfare of Aboriginal children yet poorly administrated outcomes.


The white Australian feeling at the time was that they were superior to the Aboriginal people this is demonstrated in government polices such as the ‘White Australia Policy’ which gave a high preference to white immigrants. Other indications of this are that the Aboriginals were not counted in the national census until 1967[8] and that they were not given federal voting rights until around about 1960 to 1970 in most states[9].


The white Australians didn’t understand the Aboriginal way of