The Stolen Generation

Unknown-10From 1909 until the late 1960s, many Aboriginal children in Australia were removed from their families, the so-called Stolen Generations.

The sending of Aboriginal children to missions and to live with white families meant a great deal of emotional distress, as well as the loss of cultural and spiritual knowledge and Aboriginal identity. This policy was also part of a practice to assimilate Aboriginal people into the predominant white culture and breed out their colour.

The Stories of the child removals in Australia has been extensively documented in Bringing them home, the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children From Their Families details the impact of child removals: ‘“multiple and profoundly disabling” layers of abuse in the lives of all those affected, causing “a cycle of damage that is difficult to escape unaided”:

  • separation from primary carer;
  • effects of institutionalization;
  • physical brutality and abuse;
  • repeated sexual violations
  • psychological and emotional maltreatment;
  • loss of cultural and spiritual knowledge and identity.

images-3The results [of these child removals] are a group of profoundly hurt people living multiple layers of traumatic distress, chronic anxiety, physical ill-health, mental distress, fears, depressions, substance use problems, and high imprisonment rates.

For many, alcohol and other drugs have become the treatment of choice, because there is no other treatment available. “If they hadn’t used alcohol they probably would have committed suicide.”…

For others, acting out the alienation and violence they had experienced meant a cycle of offending and re-entering other institutions of containment, juvenile detention centres and prisons.’  Judy Atkinson

> How Trauma Flows Through the Generations