How Australia Continues to ‘Breed Out the Color’ of Its Aboriginal Population

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.


8 thoughts on “How Australia Continues to ‘Breed Out the Color’ of Its Aboriginal Population

  1. Thanks for the post. This story isn’t accurate. Part of it has been highly sensationalised.
    Australia once had a policy to assimilate it’s indigenous race. Children were stolen and made to behave ‘white’ in order to rid Aust of its black. It wasn’t a new ploy for this practise was employed by almost every culture that took over any another. For Australia, that stopped in the seventies. Since then the culture has received more favour…some say more than the whites. The Prime Minister of Australia recently made a formal apology to these indigenous Australians for the atrocities committed in the past and allowed new policy to be written into law and government.
    Australia isn’t stealing aboriginal children from their parents to assimilate them, it’s removing them from abusive families to save them. It may be as misguided as before but it’s done with better intentions. No one is breeding out color (‘colour’ is the proper Australian spelling) in Australia. Assimilation isn’t policy today. Men aren’t working on breeding anyone out. Women aren’t receiving this message either.
    Personally, I love the indigenous people. They are the only ones who can make sense of such a dry, barren wasteland. I admire them. When the Europeans died in the outback the Aboriginies thrived. It’s the white man’s alcohol that has ruined them. It’s something that their genes appeal to. It messes with their minds. It breaks their families apart. Australia isn’t perfect but it’s trying to solve this problem. A child dying inside a dysfunctional family needs rescuing. Assimilation isn’t on it’s mind.

    • Fair dinkum. I lived in Australia for awhile myself.

      Well the article is definitely a side of a very complicated story.

      I won’t argue against you because your comment is a side of the story as well.

      All I’ll say is that in my observation, governments are rarely to be trusted.

    • Not just white man’s alcohol, but historically – rape, abuse, desecration of culture, murder, injustices on SO many levels. It’s a deep wound that needs healing. I recognise what you are trying to say and that your response is thoughtful, but to say it’s alcohol alone, simplifies a very big and long issue of maltreatment of Aboriginal people.

  2. In a world that is filled with people there will be questions
    about the authenticity of native title.
    Individuals will always be blamed for ignoring popular opinion
    and fault finding becomes a new science.
    Unfortunately people rarely encourage truth seeking in society.
    In literature and cinema, English people were renown for ignoring truths in favour of public opinion
    If i could say something for the Aborigine it would be to walk the land and remember what it was like before.
    Cars stop people from walking around the land but somehow people manage to do it and remember
    Popular opinion has always been a problem and a barrier for people.
    Individuals understand better than crowds or mobs.

  3. I was wondering where the photo of the beginning of this article is from. It’s a powerful image and I’d love to know more about it.

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