The Stolen Generations

The Stolen Generations

The Aborigines Protection Board oversaw the mass dislocation of Aboriginal people. In 1869, the state of Victoria passed the Aborigines Protection Act, allowing the government to remove indigenous children from their families and place them in reformatories or boarding schools (a reformatory is modern day youth detention centre) . In 1905, Western Australia passed the Aborigines Act, establishing a Chief Protector to be the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children under the age of 16. In New South Wales, the Director of Native Welfare was the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children, regardless of whether their parents were living or not, up until 1965.

All other states in Australia quickly followed suit, enacting laws that gave a Chief Protector the authority to control nearly every aspect of Aboriginal life, including whom they could marry and where they could live and work. Aboriginal girls were sent far away from home to be trained for domestic service. The Aborigines Protection Board could take Aboriginal children from their families, without parental consent and without a court order.

The removal of children remained legal for about a century, until the last state repealed it in 1969. It is not known precisely how many Aboriginal children were taken away between 1909 and 1969. Poor record keeping, the loss of records and changes to departmental structures have made it almost impossible to trace many connections.

Almost every Aboriginal family has been affected in some way by the policies of child removal.

(Source: Adapted from


The Stolen Generations is a complex and painful topic. On this website you can find two resources relating to the Stolen Generations.

  • Two songs about the Stolen Generations.
  • Materials to work with while watching the film “Rabbit Proof Fence”