Healing Foundation shares stories of Stolen Generations 13 years on from apology
The Healing Foundation has used the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, 13 February, to continue to share the stories of those who suffered trauma because of past government policies of forced child removal.
Stolen Generations survivors are some of Australia’s most vulnerable people, the Foundation said, and many have kept their stories and experiences secret for many years, even decades.
One such story comes from Stolen Generations survivor Aunty Julie Black, a 64-year-old Barkindji woman, who was taken from her mother shortly after birth. Aunty Julie’s story is heartbreaking and courageous and reminds us that behind the Stolen Generations policies there were people, and children, who are still alive and in need of support.
Healing Foundation CEO Fiona Petersen said it is important to commemorate this significant moment in national healing, acknowledging the wrongs of the past, while reflecting on the work that still needs to be done to address the impacts of unresolved trauma.
“It’s important that we as a nation provide a safe environment for Stolen Generations survivors and their families to speak for themselves, tell their own stories and be in charge of their own healing,” Ms Petersen said.
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) services may have children in their care who are descended from the Stolen Generations, and figures show that First Nations children are nearly ten times more likely to be removed from their families than non-Indigenous children, making an understanding of the issues faced by the Stolen Generations an important part of working in the sector.
“We hear stories of survival from Stolen Generations people who want to be heard and want the Australian public to know what happened to them,” Ms Petersen said. “Assimilation policies that led to the Stolen Generations continued right up until the 1970s and many of those affected by the trauma are still alive today.”
The Bringing Them Home report found that the forced removal of children has had “life-long and profoundly destructive consequences for those taken,” losing connection to family, land, culture and language and being taken to homes and institutions “where they were often abused, neglected and unloved”.
The Apology lays the groundwork for us to work more effectively towards achieving better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Ms Petersen said, and commemorating the Apology Anniversary “reminds us of the healing that needs to take place every day”.
“We commemorate the apology to keep the spirit of its words and their meaning alive,” she continued.
“The commemoration is a very real part of the healing journey. One that encourages us to keep looking for new ways to work together for genuine change in the lives of our survivors and their descendants.”
“Healing and trauma are now very much part of the national conversation. Australians are waking up to the knowledge that Stolen Generations survivors need all of us to right the wrongs of the past.
“Through the stories of Stolen Generations survivors there is now a willingness for Australians to join in on the healing journey. To be part of solutions into the future. This is the spirit of the anniversary.”
To raise awareness about Stolen Generations, The Healing Foundation is sharing this animation about the impacts of intergenerational trauma.