A presentation to inform the viewer about the policies and effects of the mass removal of Indigenous Australian children from their families in the mid 1900's that created a generation of 'stolen' people.
Aboriginal History – Stolen Generation Presentation
How would you feel if…? <ul><li>How would you feel as a child if you were taken from your parents without notice and placed in the care of a family with a very different ethnicity from yours? </li></ul><ul><li>You are not told why, you are not allowed to speak your language or practice your beliefs, </li></ul><ul><li>You experience culture shock and are punished often for not understanding theses new beliefs and practises, </li></ul><ul><li>You are told that your race is inferior and you have to pretend to be the race of your foster family except everyone knows that you are of that bad race, </li></ul><ul><li>If you try to run away you get caught, physically punished and sent to a bigger home with others like you, </li></ul><ul><li>You are told all the time that you will never amount to much, </li></ul><ul><li>You live in appalling conditions, fed on less than basic rations and you are either sexually abused or know of others who were, </li></ul><ul><li>You go to school sometimes but you get bullied. </li></ul><ul><li>How would you feel? </li></ul>
Stolen Generation <ul><li>The Stolen Generation refers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were forcibly removed from their families and communities by the State and Territory governments of Australia ( www.vals.org.au ). </li></ul><ul><li>Through legislation, the various governments legally enforced the removal of Indigenous children. The children were taken as a result of this policy and thus, led to what we now know as the ‘Stolen Generation’. </li></ul><ul><li>Although Indigenous children had been removed from their families from the beginning of colonisation, this ‘generation’ of children usually refers to those removed under deliberate government policies from 1910 to 1970. </li></ul>
<ul><li>By 1951 all Australian governments claimed they had adopted a policy of 'assimilating' Aboriginal people into the wider society, but interpretations differed. It was not until 1961 that a common definition was adopted: </li></ul><ul><li>“ The policy of assimilation means that all Aborigines and part-Aborigines are expected eventually to attain the same manner of living as other Australians and to live as members of a single Australian community, enjoying the same rights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities, observing the same customs and influenced by the same beliefs, as other Australians. “ </li></ul>Policy of Assimilation
How would you feel if…? <ul><li>As an adult, who was stolen as a child, what would life be like? </li></ul><ul><li>You’ve lost your language and cultural practices, </li></ul><ul><li>You have no identity – neither white nor black, </li></ul><ul><li>You have post traumatic stress disorder - you live in fear of white people, </li></ul><ul><li>You experience distrust in relationships, </li></ul><ul><li>You continue to move all the time because it makes you feel safe to control where you live, </li></ul><ul><li>You think that people see you as a worthless drunk so you drink anyway </li></ul><ul><li>You get followed in shopping centres by security men, </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t have a job because you didn’t get enough education and you move often, </li></ul><ul><li>You can’t go back to school because you don’t have the money and no one has ever believed in your ability anyway. </li></ul>
Policy of Assimilation <ul><li>Under the policy of assimilation Aboriginal children could be excluded from schools just because they were Aboriginal. This policy existed from 1883 to 1972. The forced removal of children from their families took place under the regulations and guidelines of the Assimilation policy. </li></ul><ul><li>"We have power under the act to take any child from its mother at any stage of its life... Are we going to have a population of one million blacks in the Commonwealth or are we going to merge them into our white community and eventually forget that there were ever any Aborigines [sic?] in Australia?" </li></ul><ul><li>A O Neville, Chief Protector of Aborigines, WA, Native Welfare Conference, 1937, Quoted 'Sorry', Sydney Morning Herald 30 May 1998, p.41 </li></ul>
Policy of Assimilation <ul><li>Government policy in all states of Australia advocated the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, as it was believed this would disassociate them from their culture. The government decided where Indigenous people could live, who they should marry and where and how their children should be raised. </li></ul><ul><li>Since the European invasion, government policy relating to Aboriginal people has been designed and implemented by non-Aboriginal people. </li></ul><ul><li>The common justification for most policies for Aboriginal people was that they were "for their own good". There have been policies of protection, assimilation and self-determination. It is now clear that none of these policies have actually made the condition of Australia’s Indigenous people any better than it was prior to the invasion . </li></ul>
How would you feel? <ul><li>How would you feel as a family member if a child was taken away? </li></ul><ul><li>Ever heard the saying ‘Children are our future.’? Your children are your legacy so not only do you suffer from a broken heart all your life, you lose the future of your family and your family’s culture. Then again, there are also the moments that you missed when the children of your family were growing up. </li></ul>
Bringing them Home <ul><li>In 1997 a report entitled Bringing them home showed the harmful physical, psychological and social effects that this policy had on Aboriginal children and their families. To promote ‘White Australia’ it was believed that the Aboriginal society should disregard their culture and adopt ‘white culture’. </li></ul><ul><li>Indigenous Australians suffered at the expense of assimilation policy and is a distressing reminder of how they were torn from their families. Life in an institution which is governed by rules, order and discipline, is an unforgiving world in which to raise a child. For Aboriginal people to ‘fit in’ meant to stop being Aboriginal therefore attaining white culture and disregarding their values and traditions. </li></ul>
This extract from the Australian Constitution 1900 shows Section 127 before it was repealed in 1967. Section 127 of the Constitution excluded Aborigines from the census (although heads of cattle were counted). This was the situation until the referendum of 1967 when an overwhelming majority of Australians voted to include Aboriginal people in the census of their own country.
Profile of an Indigenous Person The story that I am telling you today is of a Wiradjuri woman from Wellington in NSW. She is a proud mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt and friend. She shares a history that is similar but also very different from many others. This is because we are all very unique, with our own experiences, so you understand when she says she can only speak of her experiences and not that of an entire race or community. Her mother was Aboriginal and her father was white. She and her younger sister were reared for most of their childhood by her father’s parents. They understood that they were not their parents, yet nobody told them where their mum was either. This is something that they could not understand. During this time they overheard a lot of negative talk about the Aboriginals and how bad and good for nothing people they were. She was unsure whether it was her curiosity or whether it was her then unknown natural connection that drew her closer to the “bad people” who were in her eyes the same as her. No matter how many times she was scolded for being in their company, she would always go back the next day and play with the Aboriginal children. Her younger sister wasn’t as stubborn as her, or maybe she just took more notice of what everyone around them were saying.
Profile of an Indigenous Person <ul><li>When their grandmother passed on in 1972 they were sent to an orphanage in Bathurst as it was not appropriate in those days for girls to live in a house with no female present. It was during this period that their identity was revealed when they heard the Deaconess of the orphanage speak of them being half caste children with no parents. When they were first called half caste, they looked at each other wondering what was meant by that or whether there was something wrong with them. </li></ul><ul><li>Eventually they were fostered into separate families where they were only supposed to go for holidays, but this soon became a permanent arrangement for her sister. She was not allowed to have contact with her sister as she was rebellious and therefore a bad influence. </li></ul><ul><li>At age 11 she was already experiencing major loss and grief, and was isolated from everything that had meaning to her, (family). At age 14 she was told that she was allowed to go and live with her maternal grandparents if they wanted her. They were more than happy and so for the first time she was meeting her new family. She had so many feelings going on all over her body and from that moment she knew that she belonged and that everything seemed to just come together about whom she was and that lost feeling inside started slowly disappearing. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
From that point she grew learning that Aboriginal people weren’t bad. She says that the saying “You can remove the child from the Aboriginals, but you can’t remove the Aboriginal from the child’ is true. After 20 years she regained contact with her sister again. Her sister also identifies as Aboriginal. People have asked her why she says she is Aboriginal when she could pass as white. She tells these people that her identity is more than the colour of her skin, its how she feels, thinks and is who she is and to be told to deny that is an insult. “ For many Indigenous people it seems impossible for them to accept many of life’s challenges. Is it because many have not been able to connect with their own identities for different reasons?” Peters.K, Stand Strong Together, Indigenous Education Package, Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services, Family & Community Network Initiatives, 2004. Profile of an Indigenous Person
<ul><ul><li>“ When you look like me” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you’ve got green eyes and you’ve got red hair, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>And lots of freckles and your skin is fair, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People find it hard to believe that you’re an Aborigine, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can a person look like me and still be an Aborigine? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Well Dad was BLACK and Mum was WHITE, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I inherited her hair, her skin, and eyes, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So the welfare assimilated my life, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To rub out the black with their laws and lies, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I was sent to school and I learnt to write, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They made me a Christian and they made me WHITE, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cause I didn’t know I was Aborigine, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>See it’s easier to hide when you look like me. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can a person look like me and still be Aborigine? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At the Aboriginal Embassy they ta lked about our Sovereignty, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Then they all turned, and looked at me, and said, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Here ya GUBB sign our treaty!” I said, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Hey you MOB, I’m not WHITE! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I’ve got green eyes and my skin is light, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But my Spirit is BLACK, can’t yo u see, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That I am ABORIGINE?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can a person look like me and still be Aborigine? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>My old ancestors called me back, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Said, “the colour of your skin don’t ma ke you BLACK! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your heart and spirit aren’t WHITE, you se e </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cause Girl you’re an ABORIGINE!” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>That’s how a person looks like me and still be an Aborigine! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There’s a moral to this story and it goes like this’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When you see people that look like me, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t assume, that they’re not Aborigine, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You see, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aborigines come in many different shapes, sizes and colours. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Poem written by Helen Moran, A proud Wirsdjuri-Wongaibon Woman. </li></ul><ul><li> (Kim Peters, Stand Strong Together, Indigenous Education Package, Lowana Young Women’s Service, 2003. </li></ul>
Sorry Day Statement May 2003 by Mark Bin Bakar (Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee Chairperson ) <ul><li>One of the great things about history is that the truth will always prevail. Stories can be handed down and recorded but you can not change the truth. We as Indigenous people are fully aware of the atrocities and social experiments that had been carried out on our people. Our old people never ever forget. </li></ul><ul><li>Throughout the world many races and peoples have been mistreated and humiliated by oppressors and acts of supremacy. Australia is not any different, except that we have the democratic ability to assist in healing by recognising and taking responsibility as a country for the suffering of our Indigenous peoples. </li></ul><ul><li>The 'Stolen Generation' issue is not only about the children who were taken away but also about the mothers who lost children. Many mothers have gone to their graves longing for their children. Many are alive today, who still long for that child or children who were taken. This is the ultimate abuse of woman. Most of our social dysfunctions today come from the breakdown of family structures, the loss of identity, a sense of ostracisation by the broader society. </li></ul>
The greatest thing any leader can do is to heal their country, heal its people, thereby uniting the country into a oneness. We long for that special party and special leader of Australia , who will show that leadership. However, we are confident in the future. Indigenous and Non Indigenous younger generations of people who are ashamed of our Australian past will lead this country into a great new era that will forever seal the pride that we should hold united as Australians. We believe those youth will one day be Australia 's voice with a clear conscience. It takes time to relieve pain, we know. History exists in man's intelligence. We need to learn from our past. I hope that I can witness this in my lifetime. http://www.kimberleystolengeneration.com.au/speeches.html viewed 3 September 2007 Sorry Day Statement May 2003 by Mark Bin Bakar (Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee Chairperson )
Is History Repeating? <ul><li>Have we learned from the past? Let’s look at the Government sending a taskforce into Northern Territory communities after ten years knowledge of child abuse problems in the NT. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Victoria’s Stolen Generations organisation expects the Australian Government’s draconian response to child abuse and neglect in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory will lead to another Stolen Generation. </li></ul><ul><li>Stolen Generations Victoria, Chairperson, Lynn Austin declared absolute support for action to address the issue of child abuse and neglect, but predicts that the Howard Government’s move, without adequate consultation with local Aboriginal people, is unlikely to achieve long-term results.” www.stolengenerationsvictoria.org.au </li></ul><ul><li>The government continues to have a paternalistic approach to Indigenous affairs, the sending of police and military into Aboriginal communities that have a history of abusing these people </li></ul>
<ul><ul><li>The government has disregarded cultural differences by getting rid of permits to enter Aboriginal communities. “Permits are not a recent invention. Permits reflect Aboriginal Law and cultural etiquette about announcing one's intentions and seeking permission before entering someone else's land. If everyone had an understanding of those Aboriginal rules and abided by them there would be no need for permits”. “The Permit system is essential to protect people's lives against any Tom, Dick or Harry who wants to invade people's privacy. Tourists, even without malice, would feel they had a right to go anywhere at all. Peoples' privacy in their own place is a Human Right.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No one has consulted with Aboriginal people in regards to their own community. “Having white Australia make policies for Aboriginal Australians is akin to having the Indonesians develop policy for East-Timor.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why does the Government need to take away title to or tenure of land to deal with child abuse in Indigenous communities? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The problem has been ignored by the government for 8 years then they rush a bill through that ignores recommendations from a credible report prepared by people skilled in Aboriginal affairs. Why is it an emergency in 2007? </li></ul></ul>Is History Repeating?
<ul><li>The government has promoted the problem as an Aboriginal problem by not acknowledging that the problem has been caused by policies that created the stolen generation (Sexual abuse occurred in 1 in 5 Indigenous Australians who were fostered, 1 in 10 who were institutionalized and 1 in 10 alleged they were sexually abused in work placements) and continues to be a problem within Australian society generally. Sexual abuse occurs in every race in the world. Does our Government intend to send in the troops to every non-indigenous community affected by sexual abuse as well? </li></ul><ul><li>“ This is more smoke and mirrors just like Iraq. This shoddy government are treating us like fools, going in to these communities under the guise of doing 'good' but really they are land grabbing and resorting to imperialist type tactics. If they want to investigate claims of child abuse and put in preventative measures then do so using systems already in place. And stop whitewashing the real truths.” </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of Australians were against the war in Iraq yet Australia went to war anyway. Iraq and Saddam Husein we were told were a threat to us (Weapons of Mass Destructions etc…). The truth is that the American Government wanted the oil in Iraq and the Australian Government wanted to protect its financial relationship with America. Does the Australian government want to protect Aboriginal children from abuse or do they want to get their hands on the uranium in these Aboriginal communities? </li></ul>Is History Repeating?
What does sorry mean? <ul><li>One of the definitions of the word sorry is feeling or expressing sorrow or pity. To me, it doesn’t necessarily mean personal blame or guilt. We say sorry to friend when they are having a rough day even if we are not personally responsible. </li></ul><ul><li>“ If Australia is to tackle the massive disadvantage facing Indigenous Australians it must stop shifting blame and look to successful programs in other First Nations.” Malcolm Fraser </li></ul>
Joke: How do you know when John Howard is lying? A: When his lips are moving