Updated: Feb 16
The effects of the forcible removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children from their parents still show themselves today within Indigenous communities. There are many stories of pain and hurt to be told by the children of the Stolen Generation.
From 1910 to 1970, the Aboriginal Protection Board confiscated half-caste children from their homes and the influence of their culture and family, and forced them to live amongst white people. The separation and estrangement from families brought on much psychological damage to the children that were taken, creating a generation of many mentally injured men and women. Because many were brought up in a mission environment, with no affection or love given to them, this caused lots of the women to be incapable mothers. They were not taught to be good mothers by their own mothers.
Sexual abuse was also rampant among adopted girls and boys. This would have scarred many for life, and now, in current Aboriginal communities, there would be some who find it impossible to have a loving relationship - so deep runs the damage of molestation.
The raising of these children in a foreign environment also affected the preservation of their culture. Children were forbidden to speak their native language. Their names were changed from their aboriginal names to english ones. They were made to feel ashamed of their dark blood and their black skin. They were forced to conform to the society they were now surrounded by, and gradually the stories they had been taught, the culture ingrained in their very beings, slipped away. This is one of the greatest reasons that many ancient stories and songs and languages today have been forgotten.
Children housed in institutions generally did not receive a high level of education- if they received one at all. It was believed to be a waste of education.
They were trained as domestic servants and farm hands, and hired out for cheap or free labor. This was one of the most disastrous effects that the assimilation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Education is something that shapes the minds of the next generation, and the little or none education given to these children offered them little hope of a good job in the future.
In brief, the assimilation of these children was, as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called it in 2008 - when giving his infamous “Sorry” speech to the affected people - a “blemished chapter in our nation’s history.” And its repercussions still haunt many today.