Stolen Generation

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Over the years, human rights laws and legislations have emphasized the need to protect children from various abuses by ensuring that they are adequately brought up and educated as a major requirement for their future independent and development oriented life. However, children in Australia were denied their basic rights to grow up in their respective families thereby compromising their overall identity, intellectual and cultural development (Ted 2003).

Stolen generation is a term that is used to describe the children that were taken away from their families for a period of about 100 years dating back from 1869 to 1969 in Australia (Carter 2006). During this period, the church missions and the state government took away the children of Australian Aboriginal origin as well as the Torres Strait Islander from their parents and their families. It is estimated that about 100,000 children were ‘stolen’ from their families (Damien 2008). However, this figure is estimated to have been much higher as it was influenced poor record keeping and loss of data with time.

This essay discusses the ‘stolen generation’ from the period of occurrence to the present moments with a view of determining the major impacts to the society. Besides, the essay looks at the practice related regulations that were present during the period as well as the major operation with statistics to assess the extent to which the operation reached in Australia. Finally, the essay draws conclusions with major recommendations on the ‘stolen generations’ after their return with the government assistance. Origin and occurrence and statistics.

The history of the ‘stolen generation’ dates back to 1770 when Captain James Cook claimed East coast Australia for British which fully changed the condition of the aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders (Ann & Ann 2008). Massive poisoning and massacres of the Aborigines has been documented in majority of the British assumed regions. Aborigines Protection Board in 1890 argued that the half casts of the indigenous population and the whites had to be diminished. By mid 19th century, laws were passed by the governing authorities for taking the children away from their parents and containing them in different institutions for upbringing.

With vast technological advancements in the Europe through industrial and prior agrarian revolution, the whites considered themselves far much superior to the local people and therefore thought they were threatened by the proliferation of the half casts’ children between them and the indigenous people (Anthony et al 2005). Taking away the children was described by the Aborigines Protection Board as a major step to help the declining indigenous population from getting extinct, protection and offering education them (Carter 2006).

However, it is widely viewed as a strategy to ensure that whites got racial purity and most importantly to wipe out completely the indigenous population from the British self proclaimed regions. On January 1901, six federal states were created in the constitution of Australia which excluded the indigenous populations from being counted in the country’s population. Total power to take away the children from their parents and families at any instance was given in 1915 by the Aboriginals Protection Board without any consideration of whether the child was neglected or not (Ted 2003).

Ann & Ann (2008) argues that after the enactment of the Aboriginal protection act of 1869 and declaration of all the half castes to be natives in 1889, children were taken away from their parents into half caste institutions while others acted as farm laborers, guides and servants. Girls were taken in established homes where they were taught to be domestic servants in the white’s homes. ‘Stealing’ was done in very brutal ways that left the parents and families bruised, depressed and greatly traumatized. Use of force and brutality accounted for 75% of the total children taken away from their parents.

About 25-35% of the total aboriginal children were taken away from their families during this period (Helen 2004). Impacts of separation to the individuals, community and the country. Stealing of children from their families in Australia had long term implications both to the parents and the communities, the government and administration and more so to the children themselves. These impacts have recently been recurrent in different settings and described to have even far much reaching effects that may persist to the near future.

A generation without progeny is generally doomed as it lacks future and hope which lingers in its ability to progress (Tickner & James 2001). Impacts to the stolen children and later generations. The greatest effects of this practice have been probably to the children who were taken away during the dark period. As indicated earlier, majority of the children lost major identity with their communities and parents. As a result, this acted as a precursor of loosing the total community due to lack of assimilation progeny that could take the values to later generations (Carter 2006).

After the children were taken away, they were concentrated in different institutions where they were never taught the community demands, practices and values. During the period that the children were taken away, they had poor language development as communication was done in basic English. To perfect their demand plans, the whites denied the children right to get in touch with their communities until the age of 16 or 21 years after completion of their work for the whites in the farms and homes (Anthony et al 2005).

In addition, the individual’s development was very low resulting from the poor education and care they received during the 21 years they were taken away. After being taken away, the children were taught only the basics that would assist them in serving the whites in their farms and homesteads. As a result advanced technological subjects like physics, biology and chemistry were not taught and advancement with education was totally blocked. After 21 years, the individuals were therefore unable to be self reliant traits that persisted even to the later ages of an individual’s life (Tickner & James 2001).

High levels brutality, hostilities and family break ups Richardson (2002) points out that after experiencing the coercive and brutal acts to the parents as they were taken away, brutal mentor ship and increased harassments by the whites, there have been a tendency to develop the hostile characters within themselves. With time these characters are passed to the subsequent generations thereby posing great possibility of hostility recurrence in different settings.

Therefore, large number of children is being lost to the welfare states and justice agencies from the families that have inherited relationship traits with previously ‘stolen children’. During the work in the white farms and homesteads, the children were not paid their money as it was claimed that they would be paid cumulatively at the end of the 21 years which never happened Ann & Ann (2008). As a result, there was large tendency to get to drugs and alcoholism which is very addictive and long term destructive to the ‘stolen children’ lives.

Abuse of different drugs have also been linked with long term health effects to the affected children and the later generations too (Gwynneth 2000). Ted (2003) notes that due to lack of proper family upbringing for the ‘stolen children’, their families are bound to have increased levels of breakage. Through out their development, the children did not appreciate the family values as they were never taught by the community nor in the institutions they were taken to. Therefore, with increased drugs abuse and alcoholism, family values and norms have easily been broken.

The current high level mental illness among the aborigines has been linked to the ‘stealing of children’ period (Heide et al 2008). Impacts to the community and culture Stealing of children was the most traumatizing act for the different parents and the community in their entire lives. With the establishment of the Aborigines Protection Act in 1869, no consideration was made to the indigenous communities for harmonization and capacity building or collecting their views on the application of the new law. As a result, the ‘stealing’ was more of a raid than a government policy execution (Gwynneth 2000).

Majority of the careers have suffered long term feeling of insecurity, worthlessness and great lack of esteem which has also led to massive drugs abuse. Increased mental and physical stress has been linked to high mortality rates of the older people during the mid 20th century to the early 21st century. Increased efforts to have more children have raised mortality rates as their traditional medicines could not handle the major complications that were resulting as a result of trauma and physical bodily injuries (Heather & John 2001).

Following the major separation from the community which serves to define and mold an individual into a specified person towards the society, there has been a great loss of cultural identity amongst the indigenous communities (Anthony et al 2005). During the 21 years of strict segregation, the ‘stolen children’ only learned the prescribed subjects that were meant to help them serve the whites in the country or in areas where they were posted to. Interaction with the members of their communities was made minimal unlinking them with their major happenings and demands.

With the parents fast ailing in the trauma and poor health which soon killed many of them, vital community information and knowledge which is supposed to be passed from them to the younger generation has also lost. Cultural identity aligned with major cultural activities has been lost and may take long to reconstruct (Heide et al 2008). This has been described as a major impact as it serves the breakpoint for the passing of the community information to the later generations.

To add to that, there is a great likelihood of springing up of a new culture that will not be similar to the indigenous communities’ one but borrowing most of its aspects. Individual development has been described as an interception of basic immediate environment with the genetic composition. As a result of releasing the ‘stolen children’ by the government they will not be able to fully identify with the old culture as they have been brought up in totally different environments and rulings (Ted 2003). Impacts to the governance and administration.

After the practice was abolished in 1970s, the Australian government and administration has experienced increasing levels of criminal activities, drugs abuse and general lawlessness and resistance from all the regions that taking away of children was practiced (Heather & John 2001). As discussed earlier, this has been attributed to the hostile upbringing that the children got from their early life mentors, sexual abuse and the direct impact of seeing their parents suffer when they were being taken away (Carter 2006).

Through different researchers and psychologists, the government has decided to give the aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander cases a special consideration for faster and easier resilience to the development track in the country (Linda 2003). As indicated in the government apology speech of December 2007, ‘stealing of children’ and subsequent denial of good education and demeaning of their intellectual capacity acted as a major step in stalling the Australian development in the 20th century (Heide et al 2008). Human capital has been categorized as the most important component in entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Therefore, failure to develop it acts as a major facet in demeaning capitalism and promoting monopoly in the society. However, current globalization demands high level innovative capacity that can only be gotten out of healthy competition (Damien 2008). In the major apology of December 2007 to the indigenous Australians, the government regretted that such occurrences happened in Australia and vowed to use large amount of resources to ensure that the affected people were adequately compensated and resettled to try and trace the fading footsteps of their history.

As a result, the large numbers of indigenous people in the country large amounts of money have been used in compensation and resettling them in their former land. Counter arguments Though the taking away of the children had many negative impacts, it had major positive impacts to the country and the individuals as outlined below. It contributed strongly to the modernization of the current Australia. Majority of the people were able to learn helpful applicable skills that have been very helpful to them and the country. The practice introduced different aspects of farming like modern animal husbandly and plants growing techniques to Australia (Richardson 2002). It saved and minimized the reduction of the Australian indigenous communities.

Conclusion ‘Stolen generation’ in Australia led to major problems since its inception under the British colonial rule to the present moment. Majority of the problems have had very negative impacts that have persisted for a long time in the country (Damien 2008). Culturally, the country has had massive effects with strong possibilities of losing the indigenous communities identity.

Individually, the affected children have not just been traumatized, but also unable to adequately develop in tandem with others in the society. Besides, massive cases of mental illnesses have been reported among the people of Aboriginal community. The government on the other hand has had to resettle and compensate the indigenous communities for restored harmony and cohesion among its people. Though the resultant problems have been very harmful, they should be addressed with sobriety and professionalism that involves reconciliation and working together again to fully heal the present wounds.

Different nongovernmental organizations, human rights organizations, researchers, scholars and government related departments should work together to ensure that all the resultant effects are effectively and efficiently addressed (Linda 2003). Besides, a clear legislative framework should be established with a multi dimensional approach to ensure that such occurrence is not repeated. Finally, the government is supposed to ensure that all the community’s human rights are fully protected at all times from both local and international threats with a clear mission of protecting its people and their peculiar culture.

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