The Bringing Them Home Report(1997) was the result of a national-level inquiry. Its purpose was to highlight the truth of Australia’s dark past. Australia, which is now one of the best places in terms of living conditions and facilities, was not the same always.
Australia is no exception to the harsh reality of discrimination. Discrimination is something that almost the entire world has experienced at some point or another.
This report consists of the stories and demands of the generations of native Australian children and their families. It is a national apology and a tribute to the families that lost their children.
The report discusses the hardships that native Australian families went through for many years. They lost their rights because they were not seen as cultured or as important as white people.
1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities
Australia’s native population belongs to two different cultures, primarily made up of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. But, there is great diversity within these two groups.
These are the broadly described groups, which are further divided into over 250 different language groups. These were the groups that suffered the most due to forced displacement policies that had been carried out for decades.
2. Background of the Bringing Them Home Project
A dark practice occurred in Australia during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Children from the native Australian communities were forced to leave their houses.
They promised the parents that their children would get a good education and opportunities. Children as little as three weeks old were taken away from their families. Many of them never got a chance to meet their birth parents ever again.
2.1 “Stolen” Children
These families did not know they would never see their children again. The children were robbed of their human rights in the name of education and opportunities for a good life.
Often, these children are called the “stolen generations.” They lived like animals bred to serve humans and help them in their work practices. They had to work hard without any thought of freedom and accept the beatings of their “owners.”
These children were no less than the slaves who had to give up their identities to survive. Many were kept chained in groups of tens or even hundreds and forced to live in foster homes.
They were tortured, drugged, and even raped as kids so that they would do their assigned tasks and obey their masters. These families and their children were never told that they would not be allowed to meet each other again.
2.2 The So-Called Education and Better Life
They were not allowed to go back or do anything on their own. They were not allowed to know about their cultures. The education they were getting was to make them forget about their culture and copy the traits of their “owners.”
2.3 Change in Confidentiality Laws for Foster Homes
Some of the children who were a bit lucky had a chance to be adopted by some good people. But again, there was no way for them to know their birth parents. Because they did not have access to the old records of the foster homes where they lived.
Only in the early 1990s did the confidentiality laws for foster homes change. Now, people can access old records to know more about their birth parents.
2.4 Motive Behind the Forced Removal Policies
These policies aimed to end the entire native population of Australia. Since their population declined after the arrival of whites, they were assumed to be weak and unable to survive.
Therefore, these families’ children were stolen and never brought back home.
They were being trained in ways in which they would never know anything about their families. It was thought that they would marry white people, which would make the darker-skinned Australians disappear.
This led to severe traumas that the people of the “stolen generations” could never forget. The memories of these traumas led to the Bringing Them Home Project Report (1997).
3. The Objective Behind the Bringing Them Home Report
In 1992, the then Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating, made a national apology in his famous Redfern Park speech. It was the first national-level acknowledgement made that accepted that children were taken away from their mothers. This was one of the first steps toward forming the Bringing Them Home Project Report.
More than just a document, this report contains the demands of minority communities. These people suffered due to the decisions made by the past governments. It encouraged the victims to speak about what they had to go through.
3.1 Consequences and Trauma:
As expected, many people were unaware of where they came from. They did not remember anything about their pasts. All they knew was they were forced to become someone they were not.
Many of those who came out to speak about their childhood could not think of a single event of being treated with love. They did not know anything of a parent’s love.
Therefore, they could not show much love towards their children. Some even shared the memories of beatings and the sexual abuse and assaults they had to undergo.
This project focused on empowering native families and individuals in these communities. There were community-led workshops and even therapy sessions to help the victims.
4. The Recommendations of The Bringing Them Home Project Report
This final report, along with many facts and past events, also contains 54 recommendations aimed at helping those affected. Though there cannot be compensation for lost childhoods, these recommendations were the bare minimum they could ask for.
Some of them were:
4.1 Recording Statements
The Australian agencies should provide the Stolen generations with support and funds. This should be done to record and preserve the statements of those affected and make them available for future generations.
4.2 Procedure for Implementation:
The Australian government appointed a working team to implement the recommendations provided in this report. This team had to provide proof of the progress related to the message.
In addition to this, national-level campaigns and awareness programs should be organized to bring the truth forward.
Attempts for repayment should be made for all who suffered because of forcible removal policies. This includes:
- Individuals who suffered because of the guidelines.
- Families of these individuals had to live in poverty and abusive lifestyles because of those policies.
- Communities who were deprived of their rights to teach their kids about their culture.
- Their children suffered from a lack of knowledge of their history because of the forcible removal policies.
5.1 Acknowledgment and Apologies
The Australian government should provide acknowledgement and formal apologies to the indigenous people. Priority should be given to recognizing the historical trauma that these people had to go through.
All the responsible authorities should make public apologies for the roles.
Churches and other non-governmental organizations should accept their roles forced in the removals. They should also issue public and official apologies for the same.
5.2 Surety Against the Repetition
Since the trauma was extreme, the people should be assured that nothing like that would ever happen again. Also, people should be made more aware of their human rights. They should be able to stand up for themselves if anyone ever tried to harm them.
5.3 School Education
The government should ensure that schools’ syllabi include relevant models on the “history and continuing effects of forcible removal.”
The Commonwealth should fund the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies to develop these models.
5.4 Cultural Centers
Cultural centres which provide cultural knowledge about the history of the native people should be opened. Historical education should be provided to native Australian children to make learning about their families easier.
All professionals should be given training to stand against any discrimination in their workplace.
All the students in undergraduate training should be taught about the history and consequences of forced removal policies. So that nothing of that sought ever happens again.
5.5 Genocide Convention
According to the Genocide Convention, the forced removal of children comes under genocide. Therefore it must be treated as one. The Commonwealth government must provide all the necessary compensations with immediate effect.
Compensations like financial support, educational support, and access to healthcare and mental health facilities should be provided to those affected. The bare necessities of life, like food and education, become easily accessible to them.
Provisions and resources for tracing and re-unifying these families should be available. This includes allowing the foster homes to provide the details of the birth parents to people who want to meet them.
5.7 Healing and Mental Help
The government should recognize the mental trauma of the victims. Proper mental help should be provided to them. These services should include trauma cure centres and various other mental health facilities.
Attempts should be made to make them aware and capable enough to make the right decisions. They should be trained and taught to fight against any discrimination.
They should be assured of the protection of their rights as humans and citizens of Australia.
6. A History of Generational Trauma
These experiences remain with many members of native families and the stolen generations. Most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been affected by the dark past in one way or another.
The trauma is passed down to their children and grandchildren. This has contributed to many issues faced by present generations and the stolen generations members yet to follow. These issues include instances of family violence, substance abuse, and self-harm.
It is believed that one out of three native families have been the victims of such kinds of displacements. People who come out to tell their stories can never control their tears while talking about them. One can think of what they have been through.
7. Stories That Came Out After the Bringing Them Home Project
These stories recount the horrors of the stolen generations that echo throughout Australia even today.
7.1 The Rotten Mother
A lady who is now a mother was asked about her experiences and the kind of parent she is today. Based on the type of treatment she received during her childhood, she said something which was incredibly heartbreaking to hear.
She said she is a “rotten mother” who cannot cuddle her child. This is because she was never loved or nestled in her childhood. She added that the closest experience she has ever had to cuddling is when she was raped. Yes, that’s how harsh her life was.
7.2 The Fearful Nights
Another person talks about the fear each one of the children who lived with him in his foster home had. They feared a white guard who came to their room every night. They used to rape little kids every night. All of them were afraid that they were going to be the next.
They did not have anyone to complain to. They were even taught to think they were wrong and deserved what they got. That is how they were treated.
Another man told about how he was beaten so brutally that he was not able to sit for three months. It was just because he had mistakenly broken a glass window.
Also, the pain it brought upon these families can not be imagined and can never be reduced. The most can be done to ensure that things like these never happen again.
These are just a few of the instances that the victims talked about. Many could never gather the courage to speak about what had happened to them.
8. The Current Situation
Although a long time has passed since this issue was first discussed, many recommendations are still not implemented. Even today, many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community children are suffering in one form or another. These people are still not treated equally deep down within society.
After decades of sharing their disturbing experiences, minority communities are yet to get the justice they deserve.
Governments come and go, and each of them does its part in making them feel comfortable with the present-day scenario. But, the damage is too extensive. It will take a long time for both the native and non-native populations to move forward from memories.
According to many reports, dark-skinned Australians still face much discrimination at the ground level. The bully mentality that has flourished so long is brutal to wipe out immediately. Even today, people with this ideology think of darker people as inferior.
However, no effort made today seems enough to recover what they lost. Still, the progress and effect that the Bringing Them Home project has made is a massive step towards the revolution.
One day, hopefully, there won’t be any discrimination in the minds and hearts of the people.
9. Future Aspects
The Bringing Them Home project is essential in speaking and bringing the truth to the public. The researchers conducted thorough studies to form this report. They also interacted with affected people and communities.
Based on their findings, they came up with 54 recommendations for this project.
Even 25 years after its first acknowledgement, many of its recommendations are yet to be implemented. Attempts are being made to compensate for the loss they have faced. But, one must never forget that no amount of money, resources, and “sorry days” can bring back what they have lost.
Though it has been more than twenty years since the final report was published, this project remains significant today—the information talks about the things that take a lot of courage.
From the stories of cruelty to the attempts to compensate for the “lost” childhoods. It is a book in itself that contains a lot of solved and unsolved mysteries.
Many members of the native Australian families still have to go through similar kinds of removals. Many darker-skinned Australians still face discrimination around the world.
We should remember that change does not come overnight. Many of the report’s recommendations will take a lot of time to be implemented. It is a slow process. So, instead of criticizing something, we should improve our society.
10 Conclusion – Bringing Them Home Report
It is the duty of everyone who sees any discrimination to report it to the concerned authorities. This would make the criminals pay for their actions. Small steps matter; individual efforts, when combined, can have a significant impact.
Therefore, we should recognize the critical importance and celebrate the small steps. We should also try to do as much as possible to make things happen on ground levels.
The discrimination monster can only end for good if the general public takes action against it. They should decide never to let it take over the best of them.
Note thatdiscrimination is always harmful to the development of a flourishing society and should be ended. A good community is one where every citizen is treated with equal respect and rights.
Also, they should provide equal contributions towards its encouragement. It is essential to go along with the government to achieve the goal of being an ideal society. The citizens should take steps forward toward their combined good.
I am a physics graduate who loves to travel , explore and learn new things. Through my knowledge of physics, and sciences in general I am able to relate various things that the general public can’t. I share my experiences with the world by writing them as blog posts and articles. Being a keen observer ,I often write things that many people fail to notice.