From 1910 to 1970, several of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in Australia were removed from their families due to government policies, which is now known as the Stolen Generations. The indigenous children had to live with white families or were put in institutions and were often abused and forced to work. They lived in controlled living conditions, received low levels of education, and did not know the truth about why they were taken from their parents. Their assimilation into the white community has been described as a form of genocide, which continues to affect the indigenous today.
This documentary from 1997 shares stories of how the laws and policies affected the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Aboriginals were the only ones in their country who were automatically wards of the state at birth. One man brings up how families are scarred and the effects are passed down from generation to generation because of the loss of parenting skills from being raised in an institution. One woman named Julie didn't know anything about the policies until 1990 and found out she was one of the kids taken from their mother. She grew up in a wealthy family with good people and was a prime example of what the assimilation was about, but she has no memory of her real mother and is clueless about her identity. The indigenous families have all been affected somehow or another and many still carry the pain of being separated.
YouTube - Australian Human Rights Commission
In 2008 Kevin Rudd, the Prime Minister of Australia during that time, issued a national apology to the Stolen Generations. He acknowledged the mistreatment towards the Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders under the laws and policies and apologized for breaking up their families and communities. He stated that they had to lay claim to a future that will embrace all Australians and that the injustices must never happen again. He also said they had to close the gap between the indigenous and non-indigenous and that all Australians should be treated equally and be given equal opportunities regardless of origin.
YouTube - Channel Ten
Almost a decade since Kevin Rudd's national apology to the indigenous, but there has been little improvement with closing the gap between the indigenous and non-indigenous in Australia. The Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders are still towards the bottom in education, employment, life expectancy, and child mortality. The lack of progress with equality is causing tension between the communities.
Several people from the Stolen Generations share their testimonies and experiences of being taken from their families. For some telling their story is part of the healing process, for others they just want the truth revealed, and for many they view it as an educational purpose so that others can learn from it. The trauma they have experienced varies from psychological and physical issues, difficulty with identity, loss of family culture, etc. Learning about the suffering the Stolen Generations went through and acknowledging their trauma can help with their healing process in moving forward and so that we don't repeat history again.