All about Australia’s stolen generations

The news that former residents of the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys’ Training Home near Kempsey, New South Wales are demanding that the site of the facility be excavated in order to determine whether or not remains had been surreptitiously buried there has shined light on the Stolen Generations anew.

In this section, we will describe who they are as well as what has occurred to them.

Who exactly are the members of the Stolen Generations?

Assimilation laws and policies were enforced by all of Australia’s administrations up to 1970, resulting in the removal of Aboriginal children from families, communities, and culture. Many of these children were never allowed to return home.

Children were either institutionalized, placed in foster care, or adopted by families that were not of Indigenous descent. Many were subjected to harsh and demeaning treatment, as well as sexual assault, and were commonly taught to believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were inferior, or that their parents were dead or did not want them. Moreover, many were forced to believe that their parents were dead or did not want them.

Between the years 1910 and 1970, it is estimated that between one in 10 and probably as many as one in three indigenous children were taken away from their families and communities.

What was it That Brought Them Back Home?

In 1995, the federal government of Australia formally requested an investigation into the practice of forcibly removing Aboriginal and Islander children from their families by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

This investigation lasted for two years and included both public and private sessions. It collected more than 7,000 individual testimonials from survivors and listened to testimony from organizations such as religions and governments.

Its final report, which was published in 1997 under the title Bringing Them Home, included a total of 54 suggestions to promote the process of healing and reconciliation. These recommendations included an apology, compensation, the release of church and state data, and family reunion services.

Where can I get the apology?

After several years of advocacy by Stolen Generations survivor organizations, the Australian federal government, then led by Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, finally issued national apology to Stolen Generations in 2008. But there has not been, as far as the Healing Foundation can tell, any kind of coordinated reaction on the part of the government to the need of survivors and the descendants of survivors. According to the findings of a study done in 2017, the bulk of the recommendations made in Bringing Them Home have not yet been put into action.

What became of the Stolen Generations, and how are those who survived their treatment today?

According to data collected by the federal government, the Stolen Generations are the most impoverished and at a greater disadvantage than other Aboriginal and Islander people, with much poorer outcomes regarding their health, housing, work, and family life. The effects on previous generations have been very severe. According to figures provided by the Healing Foundation, their ancestors make up more than one third of all Indigenous people. There are connections to the Stolen Generations in over half of the people living in Western Australia.

What are the demands that survivor groups are making?

The Healing Foundation aimed to achieve the following in 2021:

A redress program that is consistent on a national level, fair, and equal.

services that are trauma-aware and healing-informed, including those for elderly care, health care, mental health care, disability care, and housing requirements.

Access to the relevant records.

A nationwide approach to address the transmission of trauma from one generation to the next, one that emphasizes self-determination, truth speaking, and community-based services and activities.

Monitoring the progress being made toward better outcomes for members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants, including reporting such findings to parliament.

A healing center that serves the nation.

Have the necessary restitutions been made?

The program in New South Wales has been terminated. Ex gratia payments of $75,000 were made to live Stolen Generations survivors who were removed from their homes as a result of the Aborigines Protection Act between the years 1909 and 1969. This program ran from 2017 through June 2023.

In the state of Victoria, the application period will remain open until March 2027. Indigenous people who were removed from their homes by the government or by other groups prior to 1976 may be eligible for reparations if they were separated from their families “for a period of time that resulted in experience of loss of family, as well as community, culture, identity, & language.” Those who have their claims validated may be able to receive a payment of one hundred thousand dollars and a personal apology from the government.

Ex gratia payments to Aboriginal people in the amount of $6 million were made by the state of South Australia up until the year 2015. In 2018, qualifying applicants received an additional payment of $20,000 thanks to a new program.

In 2006, gratuitous payments totaling $5 million were issued from a fund that had been established in Tasmania. It was the only program in the country up until that point that gave the offspring of Stolen Generations victims who had passed away the opportunity to petition for financial compensation.

People living in the Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, and Jervis Bay can apply for compensation through the Territories redress scheme, which is managed by the federal government and will remain open until 2026. The typical amount of restitution awarded to survivors is $81,866.

In either Western Australia or Queensland, there is no reparation scheme.

Every survivor who was sexually abused as a child is eligible to receive compensation under a separate national redress process, which was established in 2018 in response to a royal commission that investigated institutional responses to child sexual abuse. In the case of the Stolen Generations, however, any previous payments made in acknowledgement of abuse will be subtracted from any restitution payment that may be made.

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