Aboriginal timeline: Stolen generations

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1869

  1. Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines is established. The Governor can order the removal of any child to a reformatory or industrial school. The Protection Board can remove children from station families to be housed in dormitories. Later similar legislation is passed in other colonies: New South Wales (1883), Queensland (1897), Western Australia (1905) and South Australia (1911). 

  2. The Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance makes the Chief Protector the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ person under 18. Boards are progressively empowered to remove children from their families.

  3. Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines is established. The Governor can order the removal of any child to a reformatory or industrial school. The Protection Board can remove children from station families to be housed in dormitories.

    Later similar legislation is passed in other colonies: New South Wales (1883), Queensland (1897), Western Australia (1905) and South Australia (1911). The Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance makes the Chief Protector the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and 'half-caste' person under 18. Boards are progressively empowered to remove children from their families.

1881

  1. A Protector of Aborigines is appointed in NSW. He has the power to create reserves and to force Aboriginal people to live there.

1883

  1. The Aboriginal Protection Board is established in NSW. Aboriginal people at Maloga Mission on the Murray River are moved to Cumeroogunga. By the end of the 1880s several reserves have been established in NSW. Reserves are set up far enough from towns to limit contact with Europeans. Segregation is a key part of Aboriginal protection policy.

  2. ‘Mission’ schools are set up on reserves with untrained teachers (mostly Managers’ wives): 13 Aboriginal schools by 1900, 40 by 1930. They are often the only option for Aboriginal children who were excluded from public schools. ‘Aboriginal’ (‘mission’ or reserve) schools were only set up where there were sufficient numbers to justify the expense.

1887

  1. 7 April

    The Parramatta Girls Home opens (also known as the Industrial School for Girls, Girls Training School and Girls Training Home). Closing in 1974, it became Australia’s longest operating state-controlled child welfare institution, located in Parramatta, NSW. The population of the girls home includes many Aboriginal girls, mostly those who belong to the Stolen Generations.

1897

  1. The Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act (Qld) allows the ‘Chief Protector’ to remove local Aboriginal people onto and between reserves and hold children in dormitories. From 1939 until 1971 this power is held by the Director of Native Welfare; the Director is the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children, whether or not their parents are living, until 1965. The legislation is subsequently imitated by South Australia and the Northern Territory. Under the legislation, Aboriginal people are effectively confined to reserves and banned from towns. Reserves are administered by government agencies or missionaries and every aspect of life is controlled, including the right to marry, guardianship of children, the right to work outside reserves and management of assets.

1905

  1. The Western Australia Aborigines Act is passed, making the Chief Protector the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ child under 16 years old. Reserves are established, a local protector is appointed and rules governing Aboriginal employment are laid down.

1908

  1. The United Aborigines Mission establishes the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children's Home in Nowra, NSW, after several orphaned children come into the care of the mission. The home is often referred to as the 'birthplace' of the Stolen Generations in New South Wales. Up to 47 children live at the home. It closes in 1988.

1911

  1. The South Australian Aborigines Act makes the Chief Protector the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ child under 21 years old. The Chief Protector also has control of where the child lives. The Chief Protector is replaced by the Aborigines Protection Board in 1939 and guardianship power is repealed in 1962.

  2. The Aborigines Protection Board establishes the Cootamundra Girls' Home (also known as Cootamundra Domestic Training Home for Aboriginal Girls) in a former hospital. It is maintained by the Aborigines Welfare Board until 1968 and closed in 1974.

  3. Federal government passes the Northern Territory Aboriginals Ordinance. The Chief Protector is made the legal guardian of every Aboriginal and ‘half-caste’ child under 18 years old. Any Aboriginal person can be forced onto a mission or settlement and children can be removed by force.

1914

  1. Beginning of WWI. Approximately 400 to 500 Aboriginal children continue to be removed from their families during the period 1914 to 1918, including children whose fathers are overseas at war.

1915

  1. The NSW Aborigines Protection Board is given powers to remove Aboriginal children without a court hearing. This power is repealed in 1940, when the Board is renamed the Aborigines Welfare Board.

    Four generations of my family went without parently (sic) love, without mother or father. I myself found it very hard to show any love to my children because I wasn't given that, so was my mother and grandmother. — Carol, personal story in the Bringing Them Home Report

1923

  1. The Aborigines Protection Board builds the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys' Training Home, near Kempsey, to train in farm labouring older Aboriginal boys who had been removed from their families. Later it becomes a home for school-aged boys who had also been removed. There were between 30 and 50 boys at the home at any given time. It closed in 1970.

1935

  1. The introduction of the Infants Welfare Act (Tasmania) is used to remove Indigenous children on Cape Barren Island from their families. From 1928 until 1980 the head teacher on Cape Barren is appointed as a special constable with the powers and responsibilities of a police constable, including the power to remove a child for neglect under child welfare legislation.

1939

  1. Aboriginal children continue to be removed from their families during the period 1939 to 1945, including children whose fathers are at war overseas.

  2. The Aborigines Protection Board in South Australia is established.

1960

  1. The Western Australian Department of Native Affairs ceases forcefully taking Aboriginal children from their parents and sending them to missions.

Harvard citation

Korff, J 2019, Aboriginal timeline: Stolen generations, <https://www.creativespirits.info/aboriginalculture/history/australian-aboriginal-history-timeline/stolen-generations>, retrieved 25 April 2019

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