The ‘stolen’ generation

“ … negative attitudes surfaced when the report on the ‘stolen generations’ was released, except that the counter-attack was strangely bitter. The authors of the report, their motives, methodology, definitions, and findings were all attacked, but only by a noisy handful.

The semanticists, pretending to be fair, focused on the meaning of ‘stolen’ and the scope of the word ‘generation’. The other critics, seemingly less erudite, simply went ballistic, with all manner of quaint arguments. Yet, no one could deny, that many, many, lighter-skinned children were removed from their mothers (pounded may be a more appropriate term in some cases) in ways which were both immoral and illegal. Can the white tribe do no wrong?

The claimed motivation for removing the children seemed to be multi-faceted. The need to save them from a terrible future amidst the dust of the cattle stations was one claim. A related caring claim was that, as part-whites, they could be assimilated through separation from their mothers and the rest of their people.

If these motives were genuine, how did those in authority see the rights of the mothers and their communities? Since the children were to become no more than servants, what did assimilation offer them? In the event, what does this policy say about the morality of those involved?

A more honest motive was to ‘to f..k them white’, in order to avoid a biological throwback to their indigenous heritage. Preventing the allegedly ‘quick-breeding half-caste’ from contributing to the growth of the creole community seems a more honest motive. As the Aborigine was then seen to be an early version of the Caucasian stock, there were thus hopes of breeding out the black peoples as a whole. But was there any intention to have white families adopt these poor kids, as claimed by a friend of mine? What were the odds of white families even considering such adoptions? I am inclined to believe that some did.

The ultimate aim was to achieve that white nation in all its purity. In this attempt, many scientists carried out all manner of tests and measurements on the indigenes for decades. It was all so futile … “

(The above extracts from ‘Hidden Footprints of Unity’, represent a sad historical period. Yet, the current ‘debate’ about recognising the First Peoples in the Australian Constitution, and the needed removal of any reference in that Constitution to race, has identified divisions.

I wonder if our leaders, political and Aboriginal, have the wisdom to accept that ultimately, we need to be one people, one nation. When my expert team revised the Australian Citizenship Act in the early 1980s, we had a vision of one people with a commitment to the nation through a shared citizenship.

Yet, the First Nation Australian peoples are surely entitled to be identified as such, with necessary affirmative support mechanisms to ensure ultimate parity in equal opportunity with other cultural communities.)