Australian assimilation policies of the 1930’s
Australian assimilation policies of the 1930’s
The following statement, “The assimilation policies of the 1930’s had a devastating effect on the Indigenous community, which is still being felt today. While promoted as protection for the Aboriginal children, the policy actually aimed at wiping out the Aboriginal race”, is incorrect and unsupported.
It was not the actual assimilation policies that caused the devastating effects on the Aboriginal communities but the influence of the White Settlers. Before the white settlers came the aboriginal communities lived simple and satisfying lives. When the white settlers came they brought with them the complications of their own society and introduced the Aboriginal communities to it. Drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, along with other possibly more dangerous drugs were introduced to the Aboriginal people. Unfortunately many were not able to cope with all of this. Many of the parents in that time became alcoholics, who did not have jobs and physically abused their partners and children.
Things are not all of that different today. The influence of the white settlers changed the Aboriginals way of life dramatically for the worse, but many still refuse to admit the high levels of domestic violence, substance abuse and child abuse that goes on in their communities. “Aborigines are reluctant to admit that girls are being raped by their own” (Major T, Address at a meeting between the Prime Minister and Cape York Officials, date unknown)
Many claim that the effects of the “stolen generation”, which is a result of the assimilation policies is what is actually still being felt today in most aboriginal communities. The stolen generation is referred to an estimation of 5625 half-caste children that were removed from their families, for no apparent reason, to be set up in foster families or in missions. Because many of the children were taken away at a very young age and were made to forget their aboriginal roots, today claim not to know who they are~ in a sense of never knowing their real family or where they came from and that this is what is affecting their lives and causing problems for them. Firstly there has not been a single court case where it has been proven that an aboriginal child was stolen at a young age from their family.
“In the biggest such case Peter Gunner and Lorna Cubillo told the Federal Court they were stolen under the Northern Territory’s alleged policy of removing part-aboriginal children. But after a year of taking evidence the court ruled against them. It ruled Gunner had been sent by his mother to a home in Alice Springs to get an education, and Cubillo had been taken to a home only after being found in a bush camp, abandoned by her father, with her mother and grandmother dead” (Bolt A-Herald Sun, June 30 2003: 19) Many of the court cases end up like this. After proper research it is found that many of the people claiming to be stolen as children were simply sent away by their parents to get an education, or taken away because they were abandoned or abused. “O’Donoghue’s cousin Nancy Barnes, also an Aboriginal activist who grew up in Colebrook says in her autobiography that the children weren’t stolen but sent away “with the permission of their parents”” (Bolt A-Herald Sun, June 30 2003: 19).
It is also claimed that the removing of half-caste children went on from 1883 to 1969, but in 1958 all children, regardless of their skin colour, were covered under the same Children’s Welfare Act. Not to mention the number of the allegedly stolen children varies so much, from in the thousand to in the hundreds, to 1 in 10 actually being stolen, to Robert Manne who was given $50 000 to write a book on the stolen generation who has found only 4, with only one of those being actually stolen from a loving family in 1903.
It cannot be denied that historical evidence confirms that for some white people the assimilation policies were a way to get rid of the Aborigines and their conflicts with them in the following way: By taking children from their parents at a young age, raising them in white culture, marrying them to white settlers and eventually breeding them out. But we cannot ignore the fact that others saw the assimilation policies as being aimed at educating and protecting aboriginal children. The greater part of children that were taken away were either abused or abandoned, and the majority of aboriginal children in those times were far more literate than aboriginal children today. ” “We were never referred to as the ‘stolen generation’,” Barnes’ book begins. “I consider myself saved”” (Colebrook Home, http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/colebrook.htm, 25/08/2003)
It was the assimilation policies but drugs and alcohol, which had a devastating effect on the Aboriginal communities and is still being felt today. Factual information about “stolen generation” which is a result of the assimilation policies is so scarce and so uncertain, that it is hard to prove that the stolen generation really existed, let alone affected the lives of thousands of aborigines in the past and is still doing so today. And while it cannot be denied that the assimilation did have some evil aims for some, for many more they were aimed at protecting and educating Aboriginal children. This is why it can only be concluded that the statement: ” The assimilation policies of the 1930’s…” is fallacious and mistaken.
Bolt, Andrew. Evil Slur on History- Herald Sun. Page 19. 30/06/2003
Major, Tania. Address at a meeting between the Prime Minister and Cape York Officials. Date: Unknown.
Bolt, Andrew. Heeler’s Bad Blue- Herald Sun. Page and date: Unknown.
Flinders Ranges Research. Colebrook Home. http://www.southaustralianhistory.com.au/colebrook.htm. 25/08/2003