Summary below by Keith Windschuttle, Australia's most painstaking historian. He looks at ALL the evidence
In his 2008 parliamentary apology, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd endorsed the estimate by Peter Read, the university historian who first advanced the concept of the Stolen Generations, that 50,000 Aboriginal children were forcibly removed in the 20th century. Read had written that governments removed children as young as possible and reared them in institutions isolated from any contact with Aboriginal culture. "Welfare officers, removing children solely because they were Aboriginal," he said, "intended and arranged that they should lose their Aboriginality, and that they never return home."
The majority were allegedly babies and infants. The SBS television series First Australians claimed most of the 50,000 were aged under five. Henry Reynolds explained the rationale: "The younger the child the better, before habits were formed, attachments made, language learned, traditions absorbed."
It is not difficult to prove these assertions are untrue. When you look at the surviving individual case records in NSW, as I did for the period 1907 to 1932, they reveal that 66 per cent of the 800 children then removed were teenagers aged 13 to 19 years. Some 23 per cent were aged six to 12, and only 10 per cent were babies to five-year-olds. Most of them came from Aboriginal welfare stations and reserves. Two-thirds of the teenagers went not to institutions but into the workforce as apprentices.
For white children in welfare institutions, apprenticeship was then the standard destination too. At the time, for both white and black children, apprenticeship meant leaving home for four years and living with an employer. The principal occupations targeted by these job placement schemes, agriculture for boys and domestic service for girls, were the same for both black and white apprentices.
In Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory in the first half of the 20th century, laws and policies forbade the removal of full-blood children. The policy for segregated reserves across all of central and northern Australia, where full-blood populations still predominated, had been defined in Queensland in 1897. One of its principal aims was to preserve the ethnic integrity of the full-blood population by prohibiting sexual relations with Europeans and Asians. For J. W. Bleakley, the Queensland chief protector who also wrote the commonwealth policy that prevailed in the 1920s and 1930s, this was a matter of great principle. "We have no right to attempt to destroy their national life. Like ourselves, they are entitled to retain their racial entity and racial pride."
Only half-caste children could be removed. However, in WA, half-castes could not be removed under the age of six. In the post-war Northern Territory, 80 per cent of children in the Retta Dixon Home in Darwin and almost all those at the St Mary's hostel in Alice Springs (the Territory's sole institutions for part-Aboriginal children) were of school age, between five and 15. This was not surprising since the main reason for these homes' existence was to provide board for children sent by their parents to go to school.
The idea that most children were removed permanently is also untrue. In NSW, 80 per cent of those sent to one of the three Aboriginal child welfare institutions stayed there less than five years. Those aged 12 to 15 typically remained for months rather than years. Long-term residents were limited to those who had no parents willing or able to care for them. Rather than attempting to destroy Aboriginal culture, institutions for these children performed a temporary care function for disadvantaged and dysfunctional families, the same as welfare institutions for white children.
Those made apprentices were away from home for four years but could return for annual holidays. Their case files show that once their apprenticeships were complete, a majority returned home.
Much more HERE
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