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An Exploration of Australia's Stolen Generations
Transcript of An Exploration of Australia's Stolen Generations
an estimated 100,000 children in total were kidnapped and placed in boarding schools
in an effort to "civilize" the children, they were placed in boarding schools to assimilate them into white society
"Australia government administrators thought that by bringing mixed-blood Aborigines into the white world, the color could be 'bred out of them' over a few generations. Meanwhile the fully black population, regarded as irredeemably primitive, was expected to simply die out."
"In cases where children were of mixed descent and possessed paler skins, it was believed that this process of assimilation should be accelerated by bringing them up to be White. The "Stolen Generations" is the name generally given to Aboriginal people - mainly those with some non-Aboriginal ancestry - who were removed from their families as children and sent to institutions or adopted into non-Aboriginal families as a result of government policies of assimilation" (from "Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Other Australians: The 'Stolen Generations'" by Di Bretherton and David Mellor) Rabbit Proof Fence 2002 film by Phillip Noyce
set in 1931, the film documents the kidnapping, escape, and long journey home of three Aboriginal girls, Molly, Daisy, and Gracie
based on a true story: book Follow the Rabbit Proof Fence written by Doris Pilkington, Molly Craig's daughter
highlights the Aborgines Act of 1928 and its effect on the people of Western Australia Connections to Class Topics Article 6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
In 1901, the Commonwealth Constitution stated "in reckoning the numbers of people… Aboriginal natives shall not be counted". It also stated that the Commonwealth would legislate for any race except Aboriginal people. This left the power over Aboriginal Affairs with the states.
Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
In 1915, the NSW Aborigines Protection Board was given powers to remove Aboriginal children without a court hearing. Questions Why and how have the Stolen Generations escaped the global eye?
The United Nations 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Article II) defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group … ”, including:(a) Killing members of the group;(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. In what ways was the systematic breeding out of Aboriginal people a genocide? In what ways was it not?
Because of the popularity of film and photography in modern history, how is it that this important human rights violation was ignored to such a degree?
"By the last quarter of the nineteenth-century, it had become widely accepted among European Australians that the Aborigines were a 'dying race,' and this was based on the notion of the essential 'fragility' of Aboriginal culture in contact with Europeans (Brantlinger 1995; McGregor 1997). Extinction was thus simply a matter of time, so that the most Europeans could do was to 'smooth the dying man's pillow'" (from "Rethinking Cultural Genocide: Aboriginal Child Removal and Settler-Colonial State Formation" by Robert van Krieken)
"the White Doctrine of terra nullis, or empty land, denied the history, culture, humanity, and even the very existence of Aboriginal people." (from "Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Other Australians: The "Stolen Generations" by Di Bretherton and David Mellor)
"They're checking for the fair ones."..."They're going to take them to Sister Kate. They're more clever than us. They can go to proper school." (Rabbit Proof Fence) Notable Quotes A Look into Child Removal Policies and Cultural Detriment of Aborigines in Australia References Important Legislation 1886: The Victorian Aborigines Protection Act excludes ‘half-castes’ from their definition of an Aboriginal person. As a result nearly half the residents of the missions and reserves have to leave their homes. Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines is empowered to apprentice Aboriginal children when they reach 13. Children require permission to visit their families on the stations.
1928: The Aborigines Act tightened restrictions on every aspect of Aboriginal life including land ownership, commerce, and even custody of children
1937: Assimilation Policy from the Initial Conference of Commonwealth and State Authorities on Aboriginal Welfare: Aboriginal people of mixed descent are to be assimilated into white society whether they want to be or not, those not living tribally are to be educated and all others are to stay on reserves.
Potential Thesis: The era of the Stolen Generations serves as an important reminder of the horrors of past actions and a warning that if we are not vigilant about addressing issues of human rights and adequately exposing them, we risk the repetition of such atrocities. Universal Declaration of Human Rights Kant's Perpetual Peace page 93: “No independently existing state, whether it be large or small, may be acquired by another state by inheritance, exchange, purchase or gift”
page 95: “No state shall forcibly interfere in the constitution and government of another state.”-“It should rather serve as a warning to others, as an example of the great evils which a person has incurred by its lawlessness.”
Thomas Keenan's Mobilizing Shame Rabbit Proof Fence is an example of mobilizing shame
exposes wrongs of Australian government to public critique
-"'In the absence of effective enforcement mechanisms' means: we do not have a machine, a real law, or an institutionalized apparatus that can deliver reliable results, but we have an informal system that attempts to approximate it."
-"Precisely because the perpetrators are immature, dependent on the opinions of others, as are the governments that might challenge them, they are vulnerable to shaming. Judge Roling expresses the faith most simply: 'If mass violations become known, the world reacts.'" (Mobilizing Shame, p. 438)
-on February 13, 2008, the Australian Parliament issued an official apology to the Stolen Generations Bretherton, Di, and David Mellor. "Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Other Australians: The
“Stolen Generations”." Journal of Social Issues 62.1 (2006): 81-98. Wiley Online Library. Web. 20
Nov. 2012. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4560.2006.00440.x/full>.
Jacobs, Margaret D. White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the
Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940. Lincoln:
University of Nebraska Press, 2009. Print.
Rabbit Proof Fence. Dir. Phillip Noyce. Perf. Everlyn Sampi and Kenneth Branagh. Miramax Home
Entertainment, 2002. DVD.
Van Krieken, Robert. "Rethinking Cultural Genocide: Aboriginal Child Removal and Settler-Colonial
State Formation." Oceania 75.2 (2004): 125-51. JSTOR. Web. 15 Nov. 2012.