A Brief History of the Stolen Generations in Western Australia.
During the 20th century large numbers of Kimberley Aboriginal children were removed from their families by the Government and put into institutions or foster homes. Because of this policy many people lost contact with their families and their country and became known as the stolen generations. The Link-Up service has been set up to help people who were taken away to find their families and to meet up with them again.
When Europeans arrived in the Kimberley with their sheep and cattle Aboriginal people were often driven away from their own country, killed or gaoled for killing stock, or forced to work. Many people had nowhere to go. The government's answer was to set up ration stations like Moola Bulla and Violet Valley where Aboriginal people could be sent to live and work in return for food and clothing.
With the idea of protecting Aboriginal people from some of the worst abuses, the churches began to set up missions where people could live and work and learn about Christianity. The government encouraged the missions in this work.
Under the WA Aborigines Act of 1905 it became illegal for Aboriginal women to live with non-Aboriginal men, and any children of mixed race could be taken to institutions and missions. By 1958 about 25 per cent of all Kimberley Aboriginal adults and 45 percent of all Kimberley Aboriginal children were living in missions.
In the late 1950s the government set up town hostels for Aboriginal children where they could stay while they went to school. Those children who were considered to have a suitable home were allowed to go home during the holidays. Other children lived permanently at the missions and hostels. This system continued in the Kimberley until the 1970s.
Many Kimberley Aboriginal babies were adopted or fostered by white families all over Western Australia.
In 1995 the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity commission held an inquiry into the separation of Indigenous children from their families. Members of the commission came to the Kimberley and over 400 people attended hearings in Broome and Hall's Creek. As a result of the inquiry Stolen Generation working groups were formed in each Kimberley town.
In 1996 the Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee was formed with representatives from all the working groups. The committee was incorporated in 2001 as the Kimberley Stolen Generation Aboriginal Corporation. The corporation has carried out activities and projects that acknowledge the experiences of members of the Stolen Generations and help them come to terms with it. The KSGAC Link Up Service also helps Aboriginal people of the stolen generations to search for and find their families.