Aboriginal Children Between 1910-1970, many Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families as a result of various government policies. The generations of children removed under these policies became known as the Stolen Generations. The policies of child removal left a legacy of trauma and loss that continues to affect Indigenous communities, families and individuals.
What happened and why?
The forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families was part of the policy of Assimilation. Assimilation was based on the assumption of black inferiority and white superiority, which proposed that Indigenous people should be allowed to “die out” through a process of natural elimination, or, where possible, should be assimilated into the white community.
Children taken from their parents as part of the Stolen Generation were taught to reject their Indigenous heritage, and forced to adopt white culture. Their names were often changed, and they were forbidden to speak their traditional languages. Some children were adopted by white families, and many were placed in institutions where abuse and neglect were common.
Assimilation policies focused on children, who were considered more adaptable to white society than Indigenous adults. “Half-caste” children (a term now considered derogatory for people of Aboriginal and white parentage), were particularly vulnerable to removal, because authorities thought these children could be assimilated more easily into the white community due to their lighter skin colour.
Assimilation, including child removal policies, failed its aim of improving the lives of Indigenous Australians by absorbing them into white society. This was primarily because white society refused to accept Indigenous people as equals, regardless of their efforts to live like white people.
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