The stolen generations: what does this mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people today?

Williams-Mozley, John (2013) The stolen generations: what does this mean for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people today? In: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education: an introduction for the teaching profession. Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, Australia, pp. 21-34. ISBN 978-1-107-68589-5

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The National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families was an important and earnest attempt to provide the Australian community with the facts as they relate to the extent and nature of this country's assimilation policies. And even though the impact of the Inquiry's findings has led all state and territory parliaments to express such practices as abhorrent, determining that they will not happen in their respective jurisdictions, there is still a prevailing attitude in the broader community that what was done, was done 'with the best intentions' and 'in the best interests of the child'. I would like to suggest an alternative perspective that may better explain the actions of early twentieth century politicians, pastoralists and developers.

Since 1788, the concept of terra nullius, or empty land, has been used by Australian courts to exclude the suggestion of Aboriginal prior ownership or occupancy of this land. As early as the 1890s, governments, churches and pastoralists were thinking about what to do with the growing so called 'half-caste' population. In their views, traditional Aboriginal people were to be left to die out naturally, hence, the protection era of the early 1900s where governments did what they could 'to smooth the dying pillow' of the traditional Aborigine. If traditional Aborigines died out, then the questions of land ownership, land use and just compensation no longer posed significant problems. However, the so-called 'half-caste' population was altogether a different proposition. As long as they continued to live with their Aboriginal families, then they would have legitimate claims to the families' traditional land.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Ch 2.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Centre for Australian Indigenous Studies
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2013 06:14
Last Modified: 23 Aug 2017 01:53
Uncontrolled Keywords: half-caste; stolen children; terra nullus; Australia; treatment; government inquiry; land ownership
Fields of Research : 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations
18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180101 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Law
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australia's Past
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139519403.002

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