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Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families:

Bringing Them Home


A few excerpts from this report quickly puts experiences of Australia’s Aborigines into perspective:

  • “Every morning our people would crush charcoal and mix that with animal fat and smother that all over us, so that when the police came they could only see black children in the distance. We were told always to be on the alert and, if white people came, to run into the bush or run and stand behind the trees as stiff as a poker, or else hide behind logs or run into culverts and hide. Often the white people – we didn’t know who they were – would come into our camps. And if the Aboriginal group was taken unawares, they would stuff us into flour bags and pretend we weren’t there. We were told not to sneeze. We knew if we sneezed and they knew that we were in there bundled up, we’d be taken off and away from the area. There was a disruption of our cycle of life because we were continually scared to be ourselves. During the raids on the camps it was not unusual for people to be shot – shot in the arm or the leg. You can understand the terror that we lived in, the fright – not knowing when someone will come unawares and do whatever they were doing – either disrupting our family life, camp life, or shooting at us.” (p. 21)
  • “We were locked up at night. All the boys, young girls. Married girls and women what had no husbands and babies, they had one room. Another dormitory was for young girls had no babies. But we was opposite side of that, see? The boys’ dormitory. I’m not going to complain about it because, you know, I survived. A lot of kids died. Depression time it was pretty hard.” (p. 92)
  • “I ran away from the home, I was going to try to find my family. It was impossible, I didn’t even know where to go. The only thing was to go back. I got a good belting and had to kneel at the altar everyday after school for two weeks. Then I had to go back to that farm to work. The anguish and humiliation of being sent back was bad enough but the worse was yet to come. This time I was raped, bashed and slashed with a razor blade on both of my arms and legs because I would not stop struggling and screaming. The farmer and one of his workers raped me several times. I wanted to die, I wanted my mother to take me home where I would be safe and wanted. Because I was bruised and in a state of shock I didn’t have to do any work but wasn’t allowed to leave the property.” (p. 101)

The following is a quote from the report showing one of the rationales used by authorities in Australia to justify their abuse:

“The half-caste is intellectually above the aborigine, and it is the duty of the State that they be given a chance to lead a better life than their mothers. I would not hesitate for one moment to separate any half-caste from its aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic her momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring.” (p. 91)

Full Report:

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