The theft of Aboriginal children is more widespread than at any time during the last century.
As of June last year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children had been “removed.” This is five times the number when “Bringing Them Home” was written. More than a third of all removed children are Aboriginal — from three percent of the population. At the present rate, this mass removal of Aboriginal children will result in a stolen generation of more than 3,300 children in the Northern Territory alone.
I met a group of Aboriginal grandmothers, all survivors of the first stolen generation, all now with stolen grandchildren. “We live in a state of fear, again,” they said. David Shoebridge, a State Greens MP told me, “The truth is, there is a market among whites for these kids, especially babies.”
The New South Wales parliament is soon to debate legislation that introduces forced adoption and “guardianship.” Children under two will be liable — without the mother’s consent — if “removed” for more than six months. For many Aboriginal mothers like Pat, it can take six months merely to make contact with their children. “It’s setting up Aboriginal families to fail,” said Shoebridge.
This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognized abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous Stolen Generation of the last century. Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labor; many were abused.
Described by a Chief Protector of Aborigines as “breeding out the color”, the policy was known as assimilation. It was influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis. In 1997, a landmark report, “Bringing Them Home”, disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured “the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation … the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state.” The report called this genocide.