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Australian Child Protection Accused of Repeating Sins of ‘Stolen Generations’

history is repeating itself

TIME

In 2008, then Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd made history when he issued a formal apology to the “stolen generations” — Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island children forcefully removed from their families for placement in institutions and homes where they were put to work as laborers, farmhands and servants.

“The injustices of the past must never, never happen again,” Rudd said of the 19th century policy born out of the eugenics-based view that blacks were morally inferior and couldn’t properly care for their offspring. Once removed, children could be brought up “white” and assimilated into broad society so that in time there would be no more indigenous people left in Australia.

On that account, it failed. However, by the time forced removals were stamped out in the 1970s, the policy had extinguished the kinship connections, land titles, language, customs, spirituality and identity of an estimated 50,000 Aborigines and islanders. Trapped…

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5 thoughts on “Australian Child Protection Accused of Repeating Sins of ‘Stolen Generations’

  1. I would say that this is a very complex situation, in which history might appear to be repeating itself, but is not, if we are to believe some of the things written and said about what is happening. In my State we have special teams who work with families and give them twice the time available to white families to alter conditions or change their parenting so that children are not neglected/abused or deprived of adequate parenting, food, education, health care etc. Those teams are made up of Indigenous workers who are responsible for assisting families, working with them for change and making decisions about whether families are taken to court and children removed for their safety and protection. We have seen some horrendous cases of neglect and abuse in which children have been hospitalised for the physical results of bad parenting; the emotional results will never be repaired. Starvation, hypothermia due to lack of adequate clothing, physical and psychic abuse take their toll and cannot be allowed to continue whoever the parents and whatever their history. Sadly the title of the article that ‘some things never change’ seems to have an element of truth.In a situation where the Elders still have influence and teach the old ways it might have been different, perhaps it is, in less fragmented communities where recovery from the abuses of the past by Government, Government agents and community has been more possible. How all this gets repaired is anyone’s guess at present. No Government has so far shown any imaginative solutions, no community has come up with ways to fully protect children and keep them safe from sexual abuse and no viable plans have been made, except by Eric Bogle in his book which is such an interesting piece of lateral thinking that no Government would touch it! It is way past the time things changed and we got on with actively implementing new policies, new thinking and new ways of making sure children are safe, have a childhood free from fear, poverty, the ravages of alcohol, drugs and substance abuse all of which were brought to them by the white settlers who stole their country. It’s complicated but surely not impossible.

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    1. So grateful Von for this comment. To reimagine a world without poverty, where Indigenous people have resources, we could see real change but sadly – keeping them poor and starving seems to be the norm. That is colonization around the world.

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  2. Yes colonization is evil and destructive and has far-reaching consequences for peoples around the world as we see with your people and with others. We see it too with adoptees who are colonized. Our Indigenous peoples have guaranteed welfare payments and often other income but it is the addictions which swallow up the money and keep them from making other choices. They are shackled by the things that were introduced to them so long ago and now keep them poor. It could change but it would take several generations and plenty of good-will and dedication.

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