2008-02-14 07:56:44 UTC
This phrase "stolen generations" was coined by Professor Peter Read, who suggested some 100,000 children may have been taken from their families. But in a speech in London eight years ago, he named just two of them -- former ATSIC chairwoman Lowitja O'Donoghue and Aboriginal leader Charlie Perkins.
Already you see the problem. Neither, it turns out, was stolen. Perkins was the son of an Alice Springs woman who was deserted by her husband after giving birth to her 11th child, and who begged a priest to at least give her brightest boy an education. O'Donoghue was sent with her siblings to South Australia's Colebrook Home by her white father when he'd decided he no longer wanted them or his Aboriginal wife.
Read later cut his estimate of stolen children to 50,000, consistent with the guess of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's Bringing Them Home report of 1997. But that infamous report relied on anonymous and unchecked claims which collapsed whenever they were tested. It has been criticised as "greatly exaggerated" even by Professor Robert Manne, a stolen generations propagandist who was given a $50,000 grant to "expose" our great crime. Manne, in his book In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right, now claimed the true figure of "stolen" children was no more than 25,000. But he could only find and name four!
In fact, only one of his four cases seemed to involve the tragic theft of a girl, but it occurred back in 1903. His other examples included a boy who was actually taken from his widowed father with that drunk's consent, after a court heard the boy was running wild.
And then there was Lorna Cubillo. Cubillo had by then begun a test case in the Northern Territory with Peter Gunner, asking the Federal Court to compensate them for having been "stolen". That hearing cost the taxpayer at least $10 million and ran for a year, talking to all kinds of witnesses. It was the best investigation we'd get into the worst area for child stealing.
But the findings? Peter Gunner's mother had in fact signed a form to permit her son to go to a home in Alice Springs and get some schooling. Cubillo couldn't be said to have been stolen either, not least because her mother and grandmother had died, her father had vanished, and it was hard to tell who in the hard bush was actually looking after the little girl. But more than that, the court said it hadn't found anyone who'd been stolen in the NT, and the "evidence does not support a finding that there was any policy of removal of part-Aboriginal children such as that alleged by the applicants".
It was the same story in Victoria when the Bracks Government's Stolen Generations Taskforce last year admitted it couldn't find any "stolen" children either, adding there had been "no formal policy for removing children" from Aboriginal parents here.
On to Western Australia, where a royal commission in 1936 had already heard from the Protector of Aborigines that children weren't taken unless they were in danger. Manne has claimed this protector, A.O. Neville, had "genocidal thoughts", but last year finally conceded "it didn't affect the outcomes for the children". The film Rabbit-Proof Fence insists that it tells the "true story" of three girls being stolen but the records of that incident show this "true story" is false.
Then to New South Wales. Only one "stolen generations" child has gone to court there -- activist Joy Williams. But her case, too, failed, after the court found she'd been willingly given up by her mother. In fact, it's odd that not one single example of a "stolen" child has ever been proved genuine.
Cathy Freeman's grandmother was not stolen. Our first Aboriginal author, academic Mudrooroo Narogin, was not stolen either -- and is also not really Aboriginal. Nor were the four "stolen generations" Aborigines who gave evidence for Peter Gunner truly stolen, as they admitted to the Federal Court. One said his family paid to send him away to school, and he'd called himself "stolen" because "we're going to get compensation".
These aren't claims. They are FACTS that cannot be denied. The "stolen generations" is a myth! We are being fed a lie!
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