“I was at the post office with my Mum, Auntie and cousin. They put us (me and my cousin) in a police vehicle and said they were taking us to Broome. (…) They pushed our mothers away and drove off, while our mothers were chasing the car, running and crying after us.”
That was the one of many accounts that happened throughout the whole of Australia between 1900 and 1972. This particular account was referring to the series of events that happened in 1935 where the police used deception and brutality to remove the children from their mothers and families.
A Federal and State policy stated that they would “assimilate” Aboriginal children into the European society and culture, as this was considered as “child welfare” at the time.
This policy had two options, the first, to assimilate the Aboriginal children to the European society, and the other was to ensure that the Aboriginal would intermarry with a Caucasian rather than with another Aboriginal. The Government, at the time, was under the impression that the Aboriginal race would sooner or later die out, or that the plan of intermarriages could breed the Aboriginal race out of existence.
While the removals of the children included all children of any Aboriginal decent, the most targeted were the “half-castes”. The children of mixed decent (having partial European ancestry in them). The Australian Government thought that the full-blooded Aboriginal children were too un-civilized to be assimilated.
A Government report noted that some of the removals were voluntary as some of the mothers handed over their children after considering themselves to be unfit to care and raise them, though the majority of the removals were forcibly taken. Generally the policy applied to children between the ages of two and four, although in some of the cases the children were separated just hours after birth. Within the 70 year period, between 10% and 30% of the Aboriginal children were removed from their parents.
When the children were removed, they, in most cases, placed them into institutional facilities that were operated by religious organisations like the...