The Stolen Generations; Healing Old Wounds

Between the 1890’s and 1970’s, Aboriginal babies and children were forcefully removed from their parents. Few records were kept, but it is estimated that between 20,000-25,000 children were stolen. These children are referred to in Australia as The Stolen Generations. By doing so, white people hoped to put an end to the so-called Aboriginal problem and put an end to Aboriginal culture within a short time frame. The Stolen Generations were taken by Governments, churches and welfare organizations. Because few records were kept of who their parents were and where they had been stolen from, many never saw their parents, relatives, or siblings again. The children were raised on missions or with foster parents. The girls were raised to be domestic servants, the boys to be stockmen. Many were physically, emotionally and sexually abused and neglected. Leaving a legacy of trauma and loss. A cycle of generational abuse and neglect has been born out of a history of racial wounds.

Forcible removal of black children from their families was part of the ideology of assimilation. Assimilation was founded on the notion of black inferiority and white supremacy, which proposed that black people should be allowed to ”die out” through a process of natural elimination. The Stolen Generations were taught to reject their culture, their names were changed and they were forbidden to speak their native language.

Healing Old Wounds.

Acknowledging the wrongs of the past as a means to healing old wounds and reconciliation.

The first National Sorry Day was held on 26th. May, 1998 and Australia holds a National Sorry Day every year.

Formal Apology

On the 13th. February, 2008, the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, tabled a motion in Parliament apologising  to the Australian Indigenous peoples, particularly the Stolen Generations and their families and communities, for laws and policies which had ” inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians”.

 

The Stolen Generations/Australians Together

http://www.australianstogether.org.au/stories/detail/the-stolen-generations

Australian Law Reform Commission | ALRC
http://www.alrc.gov.au/‎

16. Aboriginal Customary Laws: Aboriginal Child Custody, Fostering and Adoption
An Aboriginal Child Placement Principle?

349. The Child’s Welfare as ‘Paramount Consideration’.
In general, decisions on the custody or placement of children are based on a
single undifferentiated rule, directing attention to the ‘best interests of the
child’ as the paramount consideration. The ‘paramount consideration’ applied in
all cases of child custody can be illustrated by a clause common to State and
Territory adoption legislation. The Adoption of Children Ordinance 1965 (ACT) s
15 states that: ‘For all purposes of this Part, the welfare and interests of
the child concerned shall be regarded as the paramount consideration’.[35]
This principle (commonly referred to as the ‘welfare principle’) is also
applied under the Family Law Act 1975.[36]
and in cases in State courts involving custody disputes over children. It is
also relevant to decisions on fostering and placement of children in
institutional care under State child welfare legislation (although it is not
always spelt out expressly in the legislation).

350. An Undifferentiated Criterion. There can
be little dispute that the overriding consideration in all cases of child
custody should be the welfare of the child. The problem is that the relevant
legislation usually fails to define or specify the matters to be considered in
determining this.[37]
In practice it rests with the authority involved — whether judge, magistrate,
welfare officer or public servant — to decide what constitutes the welfare of
the child. Just as the forums for considering child placements vary from State
to State, so too, we may expect, do the values and standards of the persons
applying this principle in custody decisions. The Full Family Court of
Australia has pointed out the open-ended nature of the principle:

In determining a custody application the court must regard
the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration … Each case must be
considered in the light of all the facts and circumstances particular to that
case …[38]

 

 

 

 

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