Time to remember the Stolen Generations

13 February 2015

Time to remember the Stolen Generations

Today's seventh anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations is a time for all Australians to reflect on the history and continued needs of Aboriginal people who were removed from their families on the basis of race, according to the New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC).

NSWALC Chairman Craig Cromelin said many Aboriginal families in Australia were affected by the practice, which began in 1910 and continued right up to the early 1970s.

"For many members of the Stolen Generations their experiences are a nightmare that never stops. When these children were taken from their families they also lost their culture, language and connection to country," he said.

Mr Cromelin recalled a conversation he had many years ago about a friend who spoke of their own personal nightmare that never stopped.

"When these children were taken from their families they lost their connection to their culture, language and connection to country - but most importantly their identity," he said.

Mr Cromelin recalled that when a friend returned to the community, it was a very bittersweet occasion.

"Whilst there was a welcoming home by the family, the most significant absentee was his mum - she had passed before the friend returned," he said.

NSWALC Deputy Chairman Roy Ah-See said that involvement in Local Aboriginal Land Councils has helped Stolen Generations members, their descendants and communities to regain their connection to country.

"Land Councils are vital to the healing process because we can use land to reconnect people to culture and country and help break the cycle of trauma that has damaged our people for generations."

Mr Ah-See said that unlike Native Title, Aboriginal people don't have to have had a continuous connection to country in order to claim land under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

"So for members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants, the continued ability to be able to claim Crown Land that is not being used, occupied or needed will be vital to their healing," Mr Ah-See said.

Mr Cromelin said there were many Stolen Generations members who are also members of Local Land Councils.

"These people who were taken away as boys and girls are now among the Elders of our community.  For our mob, today is a chance to let them know that they belong with us and that we respect them and will always support them," Mr Cromelin said.

Media contact: Andrew Williams on 0429 585 291