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Stolen Generations

The Stolen Generations is a term used to describe the large number of Indigenous children forcibly removed from their families and communities throughout much of the twentieth century. Many of the children affected by the ‘assimilation’ and ‘protection’ laws and policies that governed these removals were placed in children’s institutions, such as orphanages, mission dormitories and children’s Homes.

Members of the Stolen Generations, Forgotten Australians (those who spent time as children in institutional ‘care’ before the 1980s, also known as Care Leavers) and Former Child Migrants are different – although sometimes overlapping – groups, and came into the ‘care’ system as a result of distinct government policies. Although each group has specific concerns and has faced unique challenges, it is clear that the members of these broad groups also share many experiences and characteristics as a result of being separated from family. These children often lived together in the same institutions, regardless of the circumstances of how they came to be in ‘care’.

The Find & Connect web resource contains information that is relevant to anyone who experienced out-of-home ‘care’ in Australia, including members of the Stolen Generations, foster children, child migrants, wards of the state and adopted children. It also contains information about disability Homes and some mental health facilities and prisons that accommodated children at different times.

This website has entries about children’s institutions in every state and territory of Australia. Some of these institutions were primarily for Aboriginal children. Others accommodated Aboriginal children together with child migrants or non-Indigenous wards of state. Find & Connect also contains contextual information about the laws and policies related to the Stolen Generations, and information about what records exist, and how to access them.

There is a lot of content in the Find & Connect web resource and knowing where to begin can be difficult. These links take you to pages on Find & Connect about the Stolen Generations in each state and territory. They include a brief history of the removal of Aboriginal children from their families in that jurisdiction. From these pages, you can find links to relevant organisations, Homes and information about records.

Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
South Australia
Western Australia

Organisations who can help

Every state and territory (except the ACT which was covered by NSW laws) has a Link Up service which helps members of the Stolen Generations find information about their family and locate their family members. See this list of Link-Up services on the AIATSIS website:

The Find & Connect support services around Australia can also help members of the Stolen Generations and their families:

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Useful resources

Bringing them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families is the report of the groundbreaking inquiry conducted by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) from 1995 to 1997. This report brought the stories of the ‘Stolen Generations’ into the public domain, and contained many accounts of the impact and legacies of past policies that resulted in Indigenous children being removed from their family and community. The Bringing them Home report traces the laws, practices and policies in each Australian jurisdiction which resulted in the separation of Indigenous children from their families.

Stolen Generations Testimonies is an online collection of testimonies from Stolen Generations Survivors.

To Remove and Protect is a digital collection of legislation from around Australia, compiled by AIATSIS.

The interviews from the Bringing Them Home oral history project are available through the catalogue of the National Library of Australia.

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