The stolen generations was a policy and program adopted by Australian governments to forcibly remove Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families. In many cases the children were placed in church “missions” and orphanages to be brought up in the “ways of the white” people. The policy was implemented by the federal and State and Territory governments.
At the centre of the stolen generations was a racist ideology that became popular in many countries and saw eugenics as a way to racially “cleanse” their populations.
The White Australia Policy, which was adopted in 1901 by the federal government to stop immigration and to create a “superior” Australian race, paved the way for the stolen generations.
By 1911, every Australian state (except for Tasmania) had introduced a protection legislation or policy restricting the movement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and in a number of cases, allowing for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their placement on reserves, missions, orphanages and other institutions.
Missions were created to house children during the stolen generations program – and teach them the “way of the white”. European Australians believed in their racial superiority over the Aboriginal people of Australia, and therefore believed that they had the right to choose what was “best” for them, and in this case – what was “best” for them (in politicians’ minds) was the stolen generations program. This is one of the largest injustices illustrated in Australian history. At least 100 000 children were separated from their parents. At present, if you are found guilty of committing a crime such as this (kidnapping), you may face up to 20 years in prison – but in these earlier times, taking an indigenous child with force from their family, to break their culture and make them learn the “ways of the white”, was applauded as the ‘right’ thing to do.
The stolen generation policies have caused a great amount of health, economic and cultural damage to indigenous people, including today’s generation of indigenous people. Most of today’s problems facing indigenous communities can be traced to the effect of the stolen generations policies.
The Australian governments’ eugenicist mindset influenced the minds of many people globally, not just Hitler’s.
Everyone should be educated in these horrific historic events – so not to repeat the mistakes of history.
How Did Eugenics Thrive in Melbourne?”
On 26 March every year we remember Sorry Day to acknowledge the injustice experienced by the Stolen Generations.