Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Stolen Generation

Thank you to the students who contributed all the text, pictures and videos to this blog post during a research lesson.   Hopefully we have acknowledged our sources.  

To understand the writings of Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal) we need to know how the issues of the 'Stolen Generation" affected and still affect Aboriginal people in Australia.

This post was constructed by Chelsea, Kea, Jake, Dylan, Alex, Shawn, Sara A, Renee, Sarah M, Lucy, Danae and Shaylah

double click to see the original source

Listen to this brief clip explaining what the Stolen Generation was

What is the Stolen Generation?

The Stolen Generation occurred between around 1869-1969. It was when Australian Federal and State governments removed Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descendants from their families, ‘stolen’. Some of the motives are questioned but the ones that are most likely were child protection and  beliefs that taking the children and making them grow up without their aboriginal culture would make the black people ‘die out’ .  
By Emma Vincent

Here are some videos, video links and stories of real people from the stolen generation

I grew up feeling alone, a black girl in a white world, and resented them for trying to make me white but they couldn't wash away thousands of years of dreaming

This is Marjorie Woodrow who was taken from her family at the age of 2.  Her story can be found below.  Shared by Kea Poke

Here are some personal stories from the' Bringing them Hom'e report:  Full stories can be accessed at:

Story 1:  Graham  (summarized by Shawn)

Was adopted as a baby by a white European couple. There were seven people in his family. His adopted father and mother broke up. His father walked out and started his own life and then from there on in, one by one they were kicked out at the ages of 12 and 13 she decided that they were uncontrollable, they have got this wrong with them, they have got that wrong with us, they hav got diseases, we're ill all the time, we've got mental problems, we've got this, we've got that. She used to say that to us, that we had all these things wrong with us.. After a while She met this new man but she wouldn't marry him until Graham had left. So he was forced to go to a Queensland boys' home

Story 2:  John (summarized by Alex)

This kids story is when he was taken he thought that the sisters were his parents.  They didn't tell anybody, any of the kids, where they came from.  A lot of babies were arriving, some were only 4 or 5 days old.

Story 3:  Greg (summarized by Shaylah and Jake)

Greg was take from his home Cape barren at the age of 12 in october 1959. Greg was in school and he can remember sitting in class and a man knocked at the door and talked with the teacher for a little while then he came over and physically grabbed me took me to a motorbike then to an airstrip where i was flown off of the Island.
Greg did not get to say goodbye to his mother or his grandmother who he sort of classed as his mum. when he was gone it was said that is gran went crazy she was always worried about him trying to find out if he was okay. she was later hospitalised and asked if he could come over for holidays to the island that was refused, she was later taken off the island and hospitalised somewhere else where greg could visit and when he did she had gone completely mad and couldn't remember him. there was a consent form on greg's file that he found out about that his mother had signed it had his sister and his two brothers names on it but there were crossed out greg couldn't understand why maybe he was at the top of the list and his mother could not read or write except her name so she would  not have known what she was signing

Story 4:  Fiona (summarized by Emma)

In 1936, five year old Fiona was taken by the police along with her siblings and three cousins. Their mother had one child already critically ill in hospital and to describe the pain she was going through would have been impossible. The children were taken to the United Aborigines Mission in Oodnadatta. Fiona was split up from her relatives and made to stay in a different room. They were taught to eat new food and they had to shave their heads. She and her cousin at one point tried to make an escape to the train lines but the train’s steam scared both of them so they went back to the camp. They had to learn a whole different culture and were not allowed to talk to any family that was a full blooded aboriginal. Thirty two years later she finally got to see her mother again. She quotes When I finally met my mother through an interpreter she said that because my name had been changed she had heard about the other children but she'd never heard about me. And every sun, every morning as the sun came up the whole family would wail. They did that for 32 years until they saw me again. Who can imagine what a mother went through? But you have to learn to forgive.”

Story 5:  Peggy (summarized by Lucy)

Peggy's story begins when her family decide to move to another place called Cherbourg.  Upon arrival, most of the family was separated into different places to stay.  Peggy was kept with her mother in a  dorm.  She stayed until she was about 4 and then was sent to school, as she was always sneaking out to it.  When she started to attend school, she was made to stay in some other place, where they were poorly treated.  She remembers that they discriminated against everyone all the time, and at school they were made to feel unwelcome.

Story 6:  Paul (summarized by Sarah M, Sara A)

Paul was born in May 1964 and lived in a suburb of Melbourne with his mother. At five and a half months his mother and him got extremely sick which ended with him being admitted to the the Children's hospital in Melbourne. When the pair were better Paul's Mother was told it would be best for Paul if he was put into a welfare institute. HHis mother signed documents but thought it was only until the both fully recovered from the illness. She soon found out that it was not how it seemed and Paul was not going to be given back. Paul was sent around to orphan homes but no one keeps him as he didn’t want to talk or communicate. He was labelled a ward of the state. He was made a ward of the state because “Mother is unable to provide adequate care for her son.” Paul said
For 18 years the state of Victoria used to always call me the state ward no 54321.”

Story 7: Tony (summarized by Sh'Kea)

1967 he was adopted into a white family, they had two of their own sons. His adoptive mother had feelings of rejection towards him, she wanted a white son. She used to make a lot of fun of him. In 1978 he went to high school. Towards the end of 1978, tony was running away from home and school. He was sick of his adopted family. He was at the age of 11 when he committed his first offence. Tony was trying to make his adopted family hate him so that they would send him back; he ended up back in the orphanage. He kept on telling people he wanted to be with his birth mother but nobody would listen. After a few months he was getting blamed for things he didn’t do. He ran away. He was sick of getting into trouble and he was scared about being fostered. He just wanted his real family. tony couldn't understand why they wouldn't take him home. He spent some months on the streets in Brisbane, at the age of 13 Tony was taken into care as uncontrollable. He was finally sent to Boys Town [aged nearly 14. He ran away from Boys Town several times.
On one occasion that he ran away, he caught a train back up to Townsville. One of the passengers - a woman travelling with her boyfriend - took care of me. They got on real good. She had brown skin just like me. This woman kept asking me questions about whom I was and where I came from. I was a runaway, so I was restricted to how much I could say, in fear of being caught. I was in love with this woman. I remember falling asleep with my head on her lap. We talked each other to sleep. He stayed with her for that night. Later the next day Tony was arrested by the Townsville police. Tony was returned to Boys Town where he stayed until he turned 15. He then found employment. At 16 Tony stole a car from the family with whom he was staying and left the State. At 18 he committed a burglary and spent 10 months in prison. My life fell apart once again. He became a drug addict and started to abuse alcohol and everyone around him. Tony was soon convicted of robbery with wounding in company. He is serving a 14 year sentence.
His mother had died 9 years earlier. She had been the woman on the train.

Story 8:  Rose (summarized by Chelsea)

Rose had always lived in an Aboriginal family. One day when her parents left her in charge of looking after the younger children everything went wrong. She was nine years old.  The youngest child started crying and Rose decided to go to town and find her parents. She thought the kids would be safe with her uncle watching them. Rose was wrong. She didn’t find her parents in the town and continued to go home to her camp in the morning. She was told that the welfare had taken away all of her siblings. Her parents were crying and never passed up the opportunity for alcohol. The welfare said they would return the children if Rose’s father could get a job, nice house and lots of furniture and food in the cupboard. Rose knew this would never happen, because no one gave Aboriginals opportunities like that. Everyone was sad when they had to say goodbye again. When Rose turned 21 she was married and decided to try and find her family again. It took 27 years to find all of her family again and things still feel wrong, 27 years is a long time not to have a sister. Rose asks “Could you put yourself in the situation that we were put through?”

Story 9:  William (summarized by Danae)

William was a half aboriginal child who’s mother died at a young age. He had a brother that was half aboriginal too. He remembers seeing a coffin with flowers on it and knowing that he would never get the chance to know his mother. Both of the boys were put into an orphanage but shortly later it shut down. Welfare moved the boys into numerous homes where they would stay. William was not aware of anything going on around him as he was at such a young and vulnerable age. The boys were escorted to a beautiful home by an officer, it looked amazing to William. But as the officer left the new foster people sent the brothers into a caravan that held two people. William was raped numerous amounts of times by a stranger who he had never seen before and can still remember the psychological and physical pain he experienced. The boys were moved again to another home before getting settled at least. Before having the chance to make friends they were moved again. A particular house they were moved to was with an aweful man who forced the boys to do dirty things. They took him to court but nothing was done out of it.

Bill Simon's story:
"I saw her hammering her fists into the road"
"It was winter 1957, seven o'clock in the morning. The sun was up and the sounds of birds drifted down into our small kitchen. My brother Lenny was sitting on the floor, eating toast; my brothers Murray and David and I, rubbing our eyes in a state of half sleep, were waiting for mum to smear Vegemite on our bread before we dressed for school. A routine day in the Simon household.

Someone rapped loudly on the door. My mother didn't answer it. We hadn't heard anyone come up the path. The knocking got louder, and finally my mother, who was reluctant to answer any callers when my father wasn't home, opened the door and exchanged words with three people. We strained to hear what they were saying. Three men then entered the room.

A man in a suit ordered my mother to pick up Lenny and give him to me. My mother started to scream. One of the policemen bent down and picked up my brother and handed him to me. My mother screamed and sobbed hysterically but the men took no notice, and forced my brothers and me into a car.

My mother ran out onto the road, fell on her knees and belted her fists into the bitumen as she screamed. We looked back as the car drove off to see her hammering her fists into the road, the tears streaming down her face..."

Simon was ten years old when he was taken to Kinchela where he remained until he was 17 years old. The abuse he suffered left him unable to have healthy relationships and trying to numb his rage and violence with drugs and alcohol.

Simon was in his 30s when he finally met his mother again. But it was too late, his mother, re-married with other children, rejected him

In February 2008, on behalf of the Australian nation Kevin Rudd (Prime Minster)  issued a formal apology to the Aboriginal people.  (Shared by Emma)

Apology Letter to the Stolen Generation   

“Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.
We reflect on their past mistreatment.
We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our national history.
The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page, a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.
We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.
We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.
For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.
To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.
And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.
We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.
For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.
We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.
A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.
A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.
A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.
A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.
A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia” – Kevin Rudd, 13th February - 2008

The stolen Generation, Kahlin Compound. Taken in 1921    Found by Kea

Having read this post, now go to the Oodgeroo Noonuccal page on this blog to begin reading her works.

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1 comment:

  1. Outdoor Education students please read the post and leave comments