Australia Perpetuates Cultural Genocide Through Forced Removal of Aboriginal Youth
In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd famously apologized for the government to the Stolen Generation. He additionally shared his conversation with an elderly indigenous woman, whom he visited a few days prior to issuing his statement. The woman's family dug holes in the ground in an attempt to hide her from the "welfare men," but she was found at age 4 and removed from the arms of her crying mother, Rudd relayed, reported news.com.au.
"There is something terribly primal about these first-hand accounts, the pain is searing, it screams from the pages, the hurt the humiliation, the degradation and the sheer brutality of the act of physically separating a mother from her children is a deep assault on our senses and on our most elemental humanity,'' Rudd said.
But, according to Pilger’s article, Rudd also added, “I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation.” The Sydney Morning Herald called his speech a “shrewd maneuver” that “cleared away a piece of political wreckage that responds to some of its supporters’ emotional needs, but changes nothing.”
There is one government-issued remedy measure, Linked Up, which services the entire country to reunite members of the Stolen Generation with their families. Those searches and reconnections, however, are often fraught with varied and contradicting emotions of joy and unrelenting resentment over such inhumane abuse and trauma that will never go away.
Now the New South Wales parliament is about to debate legislation that introduces forced adoption and “guardianship” for children younger than 2 who have been “removed” for more than six months. But children are typically unjustly removed straight from the hospital bed, or in the middle of the night, their villages raided by police. Over the past century, Aboriginal families often had “look-outs and warning systems and kids might rush off into the bush,” explained historian and professor Anna Haebich on StolenGenerationsTestimonies.com. “Some families put them in suitcases, sat on the suitcase…. [I]f they knew about it, [they] might have the [mixed-race] children blackened up with charcoal.”
The proposed legislation in New South Wales sets Aboriginal families up to fail; it can often take six months to merely make contact with their children, one Aboriginal mother who lost her children, told Pilger under anonymity.
Stolen Generation survivors never fully heal their deep wounds and immense sorrow. “What you do is you adjust and you build your life around the scars and that’s what you have to do in order to survive. And many of us have survived,” said Debra Hocking in a testimonial for the Stolen Generations’ Testimonies project.
The systematic removal of Aboriginal children in Australia is similar to that of Indian children in South Dakota, who are taken from their families and tribal communities at rates grossly disproportionate to that of white children. Read about the lawsuit Oglala Sioux Tribe v. Van Hunnik, which charges South Dakota State and local Pennington County officials with violating the rights of Indian parents and tribes in state child custody proceedings: Swept Away: South Dakota's Native Children Denied Due Process in Custody Cases, and Swept Away, Part 2: Suing South Dakota to Protect Native Children.
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